What kind of guide are you?

Prague is a beautiful city. I charged out of the hotel moments after dropping my bags and headed…away. I’m pretty good with directions, but after wandering from building to interesting building, eyes pointed upward, I had no real idea which way the hotel was.

In Europe, old cities tend to have streets running in many different directions, curving, narrowing, and backtracking on themselves. Apparently, no one had a ruler when they mapped out streets.

And let’s face it, walking around with your eyes glued to a map on your phone is a good way to get run over by a bus.

Well, I made it back to the hotel, but on Day 2 my wife and I headed out with Petr, our guide. Over a four-hour period we wandered through old town, the Charles Bridge and looped into the Jewish Quarter. Once again I was disoriented, but Petr was not, leading us along while doling out tasty stories about political changes, architecture, and history.

Not one of us was worried about arriving in the right place because we trusted the guide. Why?

  • Rapport: Petr spent time getting to know each person on the tour during a meet-and-greet the night before.
  • Relatedness: Interesting facts were often connected to something we could relate to in Canada. He knew where we were coming from.
  • Answers: Every question, no matter how trivial (“Why are there pine cones on top of fence posts?”) received an answer
  • Destination: At each pause along the way, Petr told us where we were going next.

Some tour guides are terrible. They’re boring or tell dumb jokes. The journey is drudgery.

Petr was phenomenal. Yes, we were tired, but also happy! We weren’t just going somewhere. We were experiencing something.

Factual memos and the same old type of training may drive compliance, but will never inspire commitment to a new direction. To lead we need to make the journey an informative experience with good stories and time for a pint along the way. Thank you Petr!

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff Skipper