Makarios Consulting Blog

The Family Vacation: A Lesson In Leadership

My step-daughter is a serious planner.  Everything is written down, prioritized and carried out with the authority of a seasoned drill sergeant.  So it was no surprise that our family vacation to Disney this past January was scheduled out to the last detail.  Ten family members were involve in this adventure, the only children being my two lovely and active grand daughters, five and seven years old.  Approximately one week prior to leaving we were each given our “agendas” which included daily theme park choice, dining arrangements (to include breakfast, lunch and dinner), and a concise time table for each day.  In addition we were informed that it was not necessary for us to include ourselves in all of the plans.  We were free to go off in our own direction should we so choose.   And, as a final note, we were told that the purpose of this trip was to give my grand children memories that would last a lifetime.  Therefore rides, special events, and meal choices would be geared towards the children.  Of course as adults, accustomed to planning our own lives, we assumed that she had temporarily gone off the deep end and would come to her senses when we arrived in Florida.  After all this was supposed to be a vacation, wasn’t it?

As it turned out she didn’t need to come to her senses, we did.  She had done her research.  She spoke with friends who had been to Disney, read as much information as she could find and knew what to expect.  Because of this detailed planning we had an extremely enjoyable vacation.  The children received their lifelong memories and Disney lived up to its reputation as being “The Happiest Place in the World”.

Looking back on the experience I reflected on what my step-daughter did right and how I could use this everyday example to help my clients to understand the need for proper planning.  Here is what I convey to them:

1.  My step-daughter had a mission/vision – she wanted the children to have a fabulous experience that would lead to a lifetime of memories.

2.  She had a detailed plan (process) to achieve that mission/vision – her “agenda” was well thought out and researched for optimal success, and we fully knew what to expect along the way.

3.  She received buy-in from all participants –  although we first thought she was a bit of a loon, we understood her passion for the mission/vision and agreed to get on board for the ride.

4.  She clearly defined our individual roles and responsibilities – it was our choice of whether to join the children in their various experiences.  But because we had all bought into the mission/vision there were few instances when we went our separate ways.  When we did it was pleasant and non-confrontational as it had been agreed to ahead of time.

The results of this trip speak for themselves.  We had a wonderful vacation.  Not only did the children receive memories that would last a lifetime, so did the adults!  My step-daughter did a terrific job of leading us all in the right direction and keeping us on schedule.  Do you think I can now get her to organize the airlines so that they’re on time?!