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I had an energizing chat with my friend, the anthrocubeologist, Shirley Rivera (@anthrocubeology), about her transition into a new phase of her life.  She described it as a journey of discovery.  After her explanation, I described it as an “archeological dig.”

An archaeological dig is an excavation of ground to discover what is already there and has been there for a long time.  At times, the archaeologist has an idea of what they are looking for, but are often surprised by what they find.  If the dig is for bones, the findings often only provide a partial picture and new and modern material has to be added for the display in a museum or exposition to complete the form.

I’m convinced that Shirley is going to find a treasure trove of experiences, relationships, skills, strengths, passions in her archaeological dig to then create the next phase of her life. Then she’ll get the thrilling task of adding new “material” (new skills, new knowledge, new relationships, etc…) to complete the picture.

This metaphor got me thinking about us as leaders and the archaeological dig that we are on with our people and resources available in our leadership endeavors.  This is a two-step process:

  1. The Dig –  The dig is to unearth the gifts, talents, strengths, values, skills and worth of what we already have.  In some cases, this treasure is right in front of you or right below the surface.  In other cases, we have to do the hard, yet delicate, work of bringing to the surface everything that makes our folks unique and able to make an extraordinary contribution to the organization and the world.  Some of the tools of “The Dig” are listening, asking powerful questions, coaching, positivity and love.
  2. The finish work – This is the stage where new skills are added to natural talents.  It’s where encouragement and energy are added to dormant strengths.  It’s where a personal connection is made with the right, new person to round out an idea that has been stagnant.  As a leader, we have the thrilling opportunity to create the environment where a person can shine and all of the person can be on display.  The tools for the finishing work are often the same as “The Dig” and also include vision and creativity.

Learn the skills of a archaeologist-leader.  Your people and organization depend on it.

What team or group in your leadership endeavor is primed for “the dig?”

How much time will you dedicate today to either “the dig” or “the finish work?”

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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