The Leader's Journal

Mike sat quietly looking at the brown leather journal on the table. It was worn and faded in some areas and you could tell that it was frequently used by its owner. Pages were earmarked and some had sticky tabs on the side. Besides a few family pictures, a telephone, and a computer screen; the journal was the only thing on the desk. Mike took a deep breath and wondered what to expect from this meeting.

He had been with the company three weeks and this was his first one-on-one with John Fischer, his new boss and the company’s CEO. He had met John briefly during the hiring process and had only seen him in team meetings or in the conference room with clients since that time. John seemed nice and around the office others spoke highly of him. They all said that the first one-on-one was an important meeting and that it would be very beneficial to Mike. This made Mike a little nervous.

Once again, Mike found himself looking at the journal. The journal never seemed to leave John’s side. It was with him in meetings, as he walked the halls talking to employees and managers and it was always in his hand when he arrived each morning. Once Mike saw John in the break room drinking coffee while reading the journal and he noticed that John appeared to be meditating over it. No one else seemed to mention the journal and so Mike kept his curiosity to himself. Today would be different though for the journal would obviously be a part of their meeting.

John walked into the room and greeted Mike, thanking him for taking time out his day to meet and asked if he wanted some water or tea. “Water, please”, Mike responded. John then asked Mike about his family and how they were doing. It surprised him, not that he asked the question, but that he remembered his wife’s name and the names of his two daughters as well. They talked for a while about family, the company’s history, how Mike was doing getting to know his fellow employees, and even what they both liked to do away from the office. As the conversation started to come to an end, John asked Mike if there were any questions he had for him or anything he wanted to know about the company.

Mike pretended to think for a moment, knowing the question he would ask; “What is inside your journal? I see you with it all the time.” John looked at Mike and smiled. “I’m so glad you asked that question, Mike. Let me show you.”

John then proceeded to walk Mike through, what he called, his Leader's Journal. It was a history of John’s experience as the leader for the company. It included journal entries, pictures, and notes from strategic meetings. John also shared a few journal entries from some of the most challenging times the company faced. There were notes in the margin where John explained key lessons he learned, prayers that were answered, and the names of people that helped John through those difficult times.

John also showed him the original vision statement that he wrote for the company almost twenty years ago. It was tucked into a section of the journal that looked as if it was visited most. The vision statement and journal had notes, highlighter marks, pictures, and diagrams all over it. You could tell it was a living document placed inside a journal that gave this leader new life each time he read it and wrote in it.

John then briefly showed Mike a few pages in the journal that had fellow employee names written across the top. They were profile pages that included that employee’s strengths, weaknesses, family information, and opportunities for growth in the company. There were the key takeaway notes from the one-on-one meetings that John had with each employee. It was impressive.

John then looked at Mike and said this is your page. It had Mike’s name across the top and included information on his family. It was almost entirely blank though and Mike laughed and nervously asked if it being blank was a bad thing. “No.”, John said “It is a page that you and I will write together as our relationship grows and as you develop into your own role at our company.” Mike was blown away. He’d never seen something like this before.

When the meeting ended and Mike walked to the door, John handed him a new brown leather journal. John shook his hand and encouraged him to spend time writing down his thoughts, successes and challenges as well as the lessons that would be learned and the prayers that received answers throughout his career. Mike thanked John as they said goodbye.

As Mike drove home he looked at the journal on his passenger seat. He already knew what his first entry would to be in his new Leader's Journal.

Question: Are you journeling your experiences as a leader? If so, how do you record the key moments in your leadership story?

Make it a great day,

Coach Dan