Monday, May 7, 2012

Leadership Lessons from a Tour Guide

I recently returned from a trip to Israel where we spent 9 days touring the country.  The group of 28 was led by a wonderful tour guide named David.  As I watched David I saw a number of qualities in this man that made him not only an excellent tour guide, but an excellent leader as well.

1. Leaders Serve
The Law of Solid Ground from John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, says “Leaders add value by serving others.”  David was our tour leader but he saw himself as a servant as well.  He added great value to our group.  He was available to help with any need anyone had during the entire trip.  He spent many hours going the extra mile to make sure that we had everything we needed and/or wanted.

2. Leaders Know the Way
The Law of Navigation says, “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.”  Being a first time guest in Israel, I could have never led our group of tourists to the various sites because I didn’t know the way.  David knew the way to every site and knew which sites to see first to make the most efficient use of our time.  As we traveled he would point out landmarks along the way.

3. Leaders Strive for Excellence
Our guide knew his material.  He knew the history, the facts, and the details of each site.  He gave more and shared more than was required.  After a full day of touring we would all retire to our rooms for a good nights rest.  David would spend time reviewing the schedule and reviewing his notes so that he would be well prepared to teach us the next day.  David spent many years studying and preparing to be the best tour guide he could be.  This was seen in his performance.

4. Leaders Connect with Others
The Law of Connection states, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”  David shared many personal stories that touched our hearts.  At the end of the tour, all 28 of us felt as if David was our best friend.  Each person felt that he had their best interest at heart.  We would follow David anywhere he wanted to take us.  David made a connection with the entire group.

5. Leaders Communicate with Excellence
David was an excellent communicator.  David told many stories: some that made us laugh and others that made us cry.  His humor was timed just right to perk us up when we were exhausted.  He sang.  He demanded.  He answered questions.  He asked questions.  He taught.  David talked all day everyday and we never got tired of hearing him.

As I watched David throughout the trip I saw in him the qualities that are the marks of good leadership.  We are planning another trip in two years.  If it is at all possible, David will be our tour guide.