Lessons in Leadership Learned from our Incentive Trip to Seattle


Dan Gitto – Hatch Leadership Graduate 2019



One might ask how you can learn leadership principles while on a Leadership Incentive trip / vacation. To start, the idea of being a leader is just that. The idea that being a leader isn’t just while you are at work, school, or home. It’s a lifestyle of realizing that you live a life of impact wherever you go and it’s how you utilize those opportunities that counts as well as what type of leader you choose to be.

That leads us to approximately one year ago when I was asked to be part of the leadership training series at Hatch. I had been told from a young age that I had a strong personality and needed to harness that energy into something productive, which was true. The leadership series at Hatch has helped harness that energy into something useful and allowed me to not only be developed myself but learn how to lead others to use their potential to their best and fullest ability.

It started the minute we got on our plane, having to navigate and make decisions on how we utilize our time and figure out how to get where we are going. Do we use the train? Bus? Uber? What did Lauren think we should do and how did we communicate what we thought would be the best option?   We traveled separate from two of our team members.  How often should we communicate?  What type of communication should be used?  Communication is such a critical part of leadership.

We had a scavenger hunt that was set up for us as a challenge during the three days we were in Seattle. There were items we individually gravitated to, wrote off because we didn’t want to do them, and others we encouraged or “delegated” to someone else. We had to use time management and planning to make sure destinations were reached and we were prepared to check that activity off our list. We both needed some reminders to check the list as we might need to complete a task that we were close to at different points in our journey.


Although there were many lessons learned over our three days, here are a few of my favorites to share:

  1. Encourage/help your team – There were times that each of us were able to encourage our teammates on the trip. Catching the flying fish at Pike’s Fish Market was one that my team encouraged me to do (despite my poor track record of catching things) and I was able to do it! Encouraging your teammates and showing them that you care and have their back will lead to better relationships with them and result in quality work.
  2. Know your team – Know their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, needs, and motivators. Knowing these will make for a happier, more engaged, and productive teammates. There were times my strength of positivity was a good thing and others where it was unrealistic and had to be challenged! Planning and executing a trip like our Seattle one required our team to be aware of all those things…and they did a great job at planning/executing it based off knowing us as the newest graduates of our Leadership Training program.
  3. Hard work – We learned during a whale watching tour how far gray whales travel every year and their strategy for food. They can’t all go to the same places for food or it gets depleted. That means the whales must branch off to find new sources of food. The bays off the coast of Seattle are one of the most plentiful areas for food for the gray whale and not a whole lot of them know it is there or come to feed. Translating it to leadership is the value of getting creative and sometimes going off the beaten path to find the goldmine, not just doing something because that’s the way you’ve always done it.

Overall, I was excited to note these big picture leadership principles on our trip and throughout the training course.  I am hands down much more equipped to be a good leader because of the investment Hatch has put into me and this course. I am excited to succeed in areas I haven’t yet and learn from my failures that will be coming down the road knowing I’m equipped to learn from those and make changes.

What does leadership mean to me? I take it personally and professionally. I want to wake up every day with the purpose of putting others first, developing others, valuing others, and challenging others to be better. I know I have the skills and leaders/support system available to me to succeed in this every day.