While I profess to being a bit of a leadership and execution guru, I have to admit that I don’t get many chances to take the reins and lead very often. I mostly advise and coach leaders on leading. But the past several months I’ve lead a group of volunteers, organizing and executing a fund raising event for the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, a Family Fun Ride to raise money and awareness to help homeless families.

And looking back on it I realize I really did practice what I preach to my clients and in my blog. The first time event was a great success, surpassing our goal of $5000 by over a $1000. The rest of this blog is a summary of some the principles I realize I followed in making this happen.

First Who Then What–I really focused on getting together a team of sharp volunteers together, who were both experienced in other fund raising activities and who were culturally committed to the mission. Then I laid out my idea for a bike race for serious bike riders. As committee we chewed on it quite a bit then agreed that it would easier and probably more productive to do a “for fun event” emphasizing families. What great advice. And that’s the direction we took. Later the same team suggested a substantial change in the layout of the course, again a serious improvement over my original idea. The Hedgehog Concept in practice.

Get the Right People in the Right Seats –At this point I knew I had most of the right people. I only had to get them into the right jobs. Some by self selection, some by cajoling. And as a group we helped frame out the objectives for each area of responsibility. And recruited what was missing. Then we got moving.

Create a Shared Vision–I spent more time talking about the outcomes we wanted in each area of the event, rather then defining how to do it. I let each person bring there expertise into play. And do it their way as long as it was moving forward towards the goal. Lots of times people asked me what to do. I usually pushed it back to them by saying, “can’t see a reason not to do it that way, what do you think.” and also giving advice on how to proceed but not taking over for them.

Get Out of the Way–and spent lots of time encouraging the team. Saying “Well Done” quite a bit.

Good Meeting Rhythm — Early on we had monthly meetings, each person reporting on their to do lists and brainstorming on how to improve what each other was doing. Making suggestions giving group encouragement. Basically making sure the essential talk time occurred that let us make corrections and improvements and forward progress. In the last six weeks we had weekly meetings. Doing more of the same. This really made things come together. This engendered lots of collaboration across areas of responsibility. Execute, execute, execute. I wanted to suggest daily telephone huddles but thought it would cause a revolt. But lots of telephone calls, and emails kept me on top of things. And I made damn sure we didn’t waste time in the meetings.

One Rock at a Time, Metrics on each Rock–While we worked on all the priorities at all times, I made sure we focused on one major item at a time. The first focus was on sponsorships, When that was done, we shifted to publicity and ridership, then on logistics and execution. We had goals or checklists that we could turn into measurements in each area. This helped a lot as when the ridership we wanted wasn’t coming, I was able to hold the line on expense to make sure we reached our financial objectives.

Celebrate — Lots of Well Dones. And I jokingly mentioned that one volunteer earned the “Volunteer of the Week” and everyone else seemed to want to be named the same. So I started picking out one each week. Didn’t get everyone into it, but most everyone. We’ll be celebrating in a week or two in debriefing party to start planning for next year. And I decided to join the band in singing “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” at the event as my celebration.

On the Monday morning after the event, I have been reflecting on the success and have found that for the most part I practiced what I preach to my clients. I’m glad I did. This stuff really works and usually makes a bigger difference than we care to admit.

What do you think?