I’m just back from a super holiday in the Faroe Islands. This archipelago in the North Atlantic is a beautiful collection of mountainsides, fjords and the occasional village, with twice as many sheep as people! It’s a picture to look at, especially if it’s not raining (the usual situation). Despite being a part of the Danish Kingdom, the islands have their own language (more like Icelandic than Danish), their own culture and their own traditions, and also their own international football team.
Part of our fly-drive holiday was an excellent evening of Faroese food, music and dancing. Arriving at the venue we were greeted by Niklas Hjallnafoss (pictured with Mark McKergow), smartly dressed in his Faroese national dress and acting as the host for the evening – Faroes style. He offered us each a shot of local akvavitt (liquor) to knock back – from the same glass! This is how it’s done in the Faroes – everyone drinks from the same glass on arrival. Niklas told me that this is partly to symbolise togetherness, and partly because in the old days there were very few shot glasses to go around!
As the evening went on, we were told that the role of the Host in the islands is taken not by the person giving the party, but by a close friend or family member. That person welcomes everyone (with a drink) and then goes around offering people more drinks and getting them involved – and also making sure that they don’t have too much! This leaves the party-giver free to enjoy themselves, knowing everyone is in good and trusted hands.
In leadership terms, there is a clear lesson here about the possibilities of shared hosting. The ‘host’ doesn’t have to be the lead person – it can be someone else charged with the responsibilities for a specific event. When might be a good time for you to offer a hosting role to someone you trust? Who might it be? When can you ask them?