I’m often asked by leaders how they can harness the collective energy of a group of people to achieve great things. It seems to be a point of frustration and stuckness for many, so I thought I’d share a story about a meeting that I was lucky enough to be a part of last week. I reckon it might help to answer that question.

I was working with a group of senior leaders from a New Zealand government agency. It was the beginning of a two-day workshop, and everyone had been asked to bring along and share their leadership taonga. For the uninitiated, taonga is a Maori word that means an object or resource that’s highly prized. It’s something that holds a great depth of meaning to a person or group of people. In our context, the leadership taonga was something that represented something that has shaped participants’ approach to how they showed up and led.

Everyone took their turn to share their taonga. Some brought photos of an influential family member or role model, others brought a book that had a significant impact. Some brought a saying, or a symbol. One person even brought a mirror. Everyone elaborated on the story behind their taonga, and what it meant to them. It wasn’t rushed. People listened intently. People showed huge vulnerability. Some people cried.

As the sharing continued, you could feel the energy in the room shifting. That might sound weird, right? However, I could feel the deepening of connection between all 17 of us. It’s difficult to describe. My best attempt is to say that it felt like an environment of trust was being built before our eyes. For us, by us.

Have you ever been asked to share a bit of who you are and what you’re about in front of a group? Can you do so in an authentic way that shows a little (or a lot of) vulnerability? When you do, you can’t help but move your audience. And when everyone in the room does the same, you move the room.

There’s a side benefit too. When it got to my turn to share my taonga, the act of telling a little of my own story helped me reconnect with my own sense of purpose – why I do what I do. I grew a little more in that moment, I reckon.

When the road ahead is uncertain, people seek certainty. And what more certainty can you give them than to show that you’re human too, and we’re all figuring this out together.

Go move a room.


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