We often build field visits into our leadership programs. We research, identify and line up a field visit that we think aligns best to the needs of participants. This can be in the same industry or in a totally unrelated industry. These field visits provide access to a current leader and often their team. It also provides an up close experience where you can hear from them and then look at and talk about their enterprise, industry, innovation and future motivation. We think this is really important as it’s difficult for leaders to take the time and find that special person and enterprise that can hit the spot and inspire change. So, when this happens in your next leadership program I want you to grab the experience with both hands and get the most you can from it. It’s much, much more than a let’s get in the bus and go and have a look at a crop or some cattle. Here’s some suggestions to gain the most you can.
1. Search the Internet Before the Visit
As soon as you know where you are going for a field visit, hit the internet and do as much research as you can. Look at three things:
(a) The region – check on the history of the region, what the region is known for, weather statistics, soil information and also recent seasonal experiences.
(b) The enterprise – find out anything you can – history, ownership, industry involvement etc.
(c) The leader – who is it, what’s their story, what’s their reputation, what are they known for.
2. Reflect on What You Want to Focus On
Now you know where you are going for the field visit and who you’re going to meet, take time to think about what topics you want to focus on. Write these down. This process is really helpful in ensuring you’re an active participant on the field visit.
3. Develop some Questions
Get ready to ask questions. Review your topics of interest, reflect on your own situation, experience and leadership and draft some questions that you’d like to ask on the field visit. You may ask them or you might alter than as you learn more on the field visit, regardless, the idea here is to be prepared.
4. Introduce Yourself
You’ve probably experienced this…….bus pulls up, everyone gets off and you stand around and wait for someone to speak with you. Does this sound familiar? Next time, hop off the bus and take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the leader. You’ll know who they are and what they look like from your research. The enterprise leader will really value you introducing yourself quickly. Don’t dominate your time with them, a quick hello and move on.
5. Listen, Listen and Ask Questions About Your Topics
Listen to information shared by the leader. Here’s a trick to avoid overwhelm. It’s impossible to listen to everything, your concentration just won’t let you keep focus for the whole time. So, listen in for the topics that you’ve identified in your research. And then ask the questions most relevant for you and your work / enterprise. Take the chance to ask a question when the time is right.
6. Write some Notes
Jot down some notes when you can. Don’t rely on your memory! Again write down what’s most relevant for you around the topics that you identified. Go one step further and write down any actions you want to take when you return to your work / enterprise.
7. Talk to Others About the Experience
Talk about what’s hit home for you. Talking about things helps get tings clear and apply it to your situation. Talk with:
(a) Colleagues on the field visit with you
(b) Your facilitator / mentor
(c) Your boss, team and or colleagues
(d) Family members and friends
8. Offer Up Thanks
The leader and team you meet have volunteered their time. In addition to this time, they have also volunteered information and experience of value to you. This deserves thanks. Whilst thanks are offered on the day, perhaps a round of applause and or a gift, there’s room for a thank you after the field visit too. Send a message of thanks through the enterprise’s website or direct to them if they gave out their card. Offer thanks for their time and also what it’s meant to you and what you will do as a result of the field visit and meeting them.
Over to You
I hope this post inspires you to take full advantage of the next leadership field visit you go on. It is so so much more than a look and see bus trip! It can inspire change, action and motivate mindset shifts. Good luck. And please feel free to reach out to me here if you think I can help in any way.
Until next time!