Ignite's Summer Intern: Leadership, Teams, and Communication


You have probably heard the story of President JFK visiting NASA in 1962 and he noticed a janitor with a broom. He interrupted his tour and walked toward the man and asked him “what are you doing?” The Janitor replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon”. 

I see three lessons learned from this story: one that a leader, president JFK, paid attention to someone who wasn’t part of his immediate team or tour, in fact, the janitor was doing the job that might be easy to ignore or overlook. Second, the janitor took pride in his contributions, no matter how small, to NASA’s historic project of putting a man on the moon. Third, the importance of team-building behind the scenes and the different responsibilities that each of us need to fulfill together to accomplish the same goal – JFK and the janitor understood their purpose. 

What does it take to be a good leader? 

There are many definitions for being a good leader. To me a good leader is the one who not only knows the objective, but also is able to coach their team and build strong relationships to achieve that objective. I can relate this to our company, we have a Managing Partner with a strong sense of vision for the Company. He encourages us to think outside the box and come up with our own ways of figuring out best practices that help our clients' organizational change. This summer, we have a new intern, my 16 year old son. A young man who is inquisitive, enthusiastic, and energetic. On his second day of work, he began setting up our social media accounts and how we deliver our messages to them. He was given a general direction by the Managing Partner but allowed to use his own understanding and skills to help us toward the big picture goal of becoming more active on social media as a company. Not only that, but he taught the Managing Partner how to set up his personal Instagram account so he can understand the new platform, follow his company, and begin to engage with our audience! 

Do you understand the big picture of your small task? 

Back in 1998, I recall printing materials and putting them together in binders for a workshop on Environmental Studies to be discussed at Harvard Institute for International Development. The topic was climate change and I got caught up reading the contents and could not wait to attend the first day of the workshop. During the workshop I learned to build the skills for policymaking and messaging. When my husband decided to start his own company, I was able to use that experience to help him with the logos, brochures and printouts as well. I was able to focus on my specialty which would have been the less desired tasks for him to work on. Our blend of different skills helped us grow our company and eventually my responsibilities – I’m happy to say that my initial tasks and skills continued to grow until now, where I now hold the title of Director of Ignite Consulting. 

Do you build your team with good communication? 

Communication is key to establish personal relationships and learn about one another. By JFK asking a question to the janitor, he learned quite a bit from the man. He got a sense of his perspective – sweeping the floors of a bathroom made the facility better, and with a better facility, other roles could be performed easier. At first it may not look like it, but he assisted the people of NASA in putting a man on the moon. We all have different roles, skills, talents and experiences. Asking questions about our team members will helps us learn about their thoughts, plans, and the ways we can have a growth mindset and work together. Communication is successful when we include all members from top to bottom. This morning, we had a good communication within our company between the Managing Partner and our 16 year old intern. Through that communication our intern was able to understand the task and use his strengths to jump right into his first work assignments.  

How well do your teams function? Is communication clear from top to bottom? Do your teams feel a sense of empowerment? If you need help improving productivity, communicating, or generating buy-in to achieve your business goals, let us know, we will be happy to help.