FIRE AND EMERGENCY MANUFACTURERS AND SERVICES ASSOCIATION

‘Show Your Ink’ and Be Authentic

Dr. Todd Dewett, Opening Keynote

by Scott Weishaar

Dr. Todd Dewett kicked off the 2019 FEMSA/FAMA Annual/Fall Conference in Toronto with a keynote that offered great perspectives and tugged at emotions. His presentation was both thought-provoking and practical – he challenged members to ‘show our ink’ and realize that more is possible.

His underlying message was very simple and pure – we must be authentic in our approach to leading and how each of us need to be real and honest in our daily lives and interactions.

His points were broken into four key points. First, he emphasized the importance of being authentic and not pretending to be someone else. He stated that it is important to manage impressions and that perception is key. To illustrate this concept, he used the example of running into an old friend for lunch while dressed in a sportscoat and proud of his success. He said that his friend quickly saw through his mask and asked if he was happy in what he was doing. That was one of the last times he wore a coat and did not “show his ink.” As leaders, we cannot try to be something we are not – our teams will see through this mask and will not buy into what we are asking to be done.

The second key point discussed was learning to get over ourselves. We need to get off any preconceived pedestal and avoid telling our teams what to do but rather, listen, observe and advise. True leaders show appreciation and build a strong rapport throughout the organization. Dewett shared the story of a manager trying to attempt to show his appreciation unsuccessfully to his team with a happy hour and a canoe trip. He realized this team was into professional wrestling and used that as an opportunity to build the team dynamics and show his appreciation for their effort. He noted that leaders must use their knowledge to help others be better versions of themselves and simply understand and communicate.

For his third point, Dewett elaborated on how leaders should balance their project intelligence while still showing we can and will make mistakes. He shared his example of losing a basketball game as a young man and his mother’s advice to not have a pity party, get over it, learn from it and make a choice to do something about it. Dewett shared a story about ‘falling on his face’ at a State Farm conference, unprepared and only shared charts and graphs to an audience that wanted to hear stories and examples from him. He made a choice to learn from this experience, do something about it, learn and focus on self-improvement and to be ready for his next engagement.

His fourth and final point was on perspective and taking risks knowing that not every aspect will work. He shared a story about his father, his life experiences and how, after time, they rebuilt their relationship. People can sense insincerity and lack of being honest; avoid these pitfalls at all costs. Make the choice to be positive and authentic every day. Many leaders are concerned with being liked and expect to be respected. As leaders, we must shift our mindset and focus on being real and honest. Respect will be the result of these actions.

In summary, Dewett ended with: “Roll-up your sleeves, show your ink and remember people like real – be authentic in our daily decisions and actions. People like ‘real,’ live every day with integrity and honesty, this will result in a positive and strong life.”

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