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Leadership lessons from my trip to Newfoundland

I spent the first two weeks of July on vacation in Newfoundland. It was my first time on the Island, and I loved every minute there. It’s a special place to visit due to its kind-hearted locals and exquisite scenery. 

Newfoundland only joined Canada in 1949 and has a unique culture. 

During a trip to Newfoundland, I learned leadership lessonsWhile immersed in the culture and surrounded by breathtaking ocean-front vistas, I learned a few life lessons applicable to leadership. They are: 

  1. Generosity matters
  2. Human interaction matters
  3. Downtime matters   

Generosity matters

I kept receiving free things in Newfoundland. 

On one occasion, I asked the woman working at a coffee shop, “How much for my tea?” 

She responded, “Ah…don’t worry about it. It’s just water. No need to pay.” 

You should have seen my jaw drop! 

A few days later, we finished breakfast in the only restaurant in a tiny town. 

We asked for the check and were told, “The other couple in here already paid your bill.” 

My jaw dropped again! I was overwhelmed by the extreme generosity of the locals.

So, what does generosity have to do with leadership? Well, generous leaders actively grow, develop and support their teams. They understand how important it is to give others their time and energy generously. Generous leaders don’t only focus on developing their team, but they empower and acknowledge people across the business for their contribution. 

When you are generous towards other people, you help them to feel cared for and valued.

Human interaction matters

The people of Newfoundland take the time to develop relationships in an unparalleled way. People would repeatedly stop what they were doing and chat with us. In one case, a restaurant owner pulled up his chair, grabbed a beer, and chatted with us for an hour. Then he gave us free banana bread (yes…more free stuff!!) In another situation, I started talking to the woman cleaning the hotel rooms. At the end of our lengthy conversation, she invited us to go fishing on her boat! 

These situations, and many others like them, were a great reminder that connecting with others is good for the soul. 

As a leader, you can’t be task and goal oriented all the time. You have to find a balance between being both task and relationship oriented. This doesn’t mean that you need to waste time with idle chit-chat. Rather, it reinforces the necessity to get to know your team. Find out what matters to them and take the time to discover your shared interests. Teams with high trust and strong relationships outperform their competition. So plain and simple, human interaction is good for business. 

Downtime matters

Newfoundland is a vast province that is sparsely populated. When driving from town to town, you are often on remote roads without data or wifi. As a traveler, you have no choice but to turn off your phone, look out the window and talk to your travel companion for hours. Research indicates that the average couple talks for seven minutes a day!! But in Newfoundland, we had lots of time to chat, connect and reflect. Without access to our phones, we really had the time and space to think, let go, and recharge. 

Leadership requires thought and reflection. If you want to be strategic and innovative, you can’t spend all your time in the weeds or putting out fires. Rather, you need to carve out time in your schedule to think, plan and re-assess. 

Also, to be the best version of yourself at work, you need to unplug. I’m not talking about a vacation where you work half days! Nope! Instead, take two weeks off the grid. You’ll return to work recharged and ready to support your team and business. 

So, I hope you will take the time to connect with your team, be generous with others, and most importantly, give yourself some time to rest!

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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