Leadership and Collaboration… Thanks Tom

Our personal and professional lives intersect with many great people. Each person brings new learning experiences or ways for us to gain information, knowledge, identify talents or acquire new skills. Most often we store away bits of things we’ve learned and apply them when most needed. Sometimes we take these intersections and their relationships for granted. This post is more personal in nature and I hope you find some new insights on how collaboration affects our leadership.

Some months ago, I was invited to guest post for On Product Management. The topic I explored at that time was Stop, Collaborate and Listen. At that time, I used this image, a cleverly altered stop sign bearing this message. Recently, I drove past this sign and had time to reflect on how small ideas and passions open new avenues for collaboration.

Dr. Thomas C. Clark was a noted authority on communicative disorders and deaf education worldwide. While working at a state-run school for the deaf early in his career, Dr. Clark witnessed a two-year old child being separated from its parent in order to enter the school. He knew the child should be educated, but at the expense of removing it from the safety of its parents? What could one man do to change this? It took Dr. Clark several years, but he took that idea, socialized it and collaborated with many others who had the management, administrative and teaching backgrounds to create SKI-HI Institute. Dr. Clark found others who contributed in helping him learn the process of grant writing, building a business, gaining state and national support, and creating a team of professionals to bring deaf education to where it belonged, in the home where parents could be trained and involved daily with their children.

When you think about your leadership style, is it collaborative and open? Do you have a seek the advice of others and openly take their experiences and quite often criticism into consideration when moving ideas forward? If so, I believe our leadership boundaries are limitless if we are willing to be open and collaborate.

Dr. Tom Clark was a friend and also my father-in-law. In the eyes of his colleagues, students, family and friends, he was the “great collaborator” who was fearless in his convictions, conversations and passionate about his work with the deaf. 

Thanks for all you taught me Tom. Your zest for life and learning will be missed by your family and all those you’ve given too.    

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