Behind the Scenes at RMHC-KC

I recently came back from a national meeting in Florida with fellow RMHC leaders. For three days, we did everything you might expect at a gathering of that type: we shared best practices and exchanged ideas, we learned from and leaned on each other.

Our RMHC leadership group has a strong network. Not only do we have 200+ Ronald McDonald Houses in the United States and Canada, there are 375 around the world. (An RMHC chapter just launched in Egypt!) And we all share the same challenges: issues like cyber security. Growth opportunities for staff. How to find the best board members. How to manage growth while still ensuring that our Houses maintain a home-like feel for families with sick kids. And at our recent leadership meeting, we had the opportunity to share struggles and successes, and get real with each other. 

Me at our RMHC Leadership meeting doing a “Red Shoe Reflection” 

We also delivered some personal leadership talks called “Red Shoe Reflections.” We took turns sharing our own life and leadership stories, with topics like self-care, healthy change and real transformation, joy, and resilience. I shared my own story about gratitude and a series of service projects I completed when I turned 40, as a way of honoring the 40 most influential people in my life. All in all, the meeting was an incredible display of vulnerability, authenticity, and the chance to bring our whole selves to what we do: we learned so much about each other and from each other.   

One of the things we learned is that we’re not in this alone. We’re stronger together, learning and collaborating, in the same room, with our guards down. I’ve never seen an environment quite like it:  extraordinarily strong, smart, skilled leaders, filled with such mutual trust, alignment, and purpose—together not as competitors, but as one united system, committed to serving families with sick children. Quickly it became apparent that the best leadership is not about bluster, bravado, or knowing all the answers. It’s about offering up your own vulnerabilities and story, and actively taking the initiative to support each other. 

At RMHC, our job to lead is both a privilege and a burden. It comes with heavy responsibilities, and great joys. Above all, our job is to give the very best of ourselves—and inspire others to give the best of themselves—to serve families with sick children who are facing the most important challenges of their lives. And as we find our own courage, joy, resilience, hope, and strength, we can help others find theirs.

Thank you for reading this. As the leader of RMHC Kansas City I am always striving to live and lead with authenticity.  And I hope that in your own life and story you find value in choosing joy, living with vulnerability, and giving—and receiving—support to others along the journey.