If I could sum up in one word what was the overall theme of today’s Leadership Kenosha is would be: communication. And secondly, multigenerational communication. We all are able to do communicate, but capable is another thing. After touring the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, it was very evident that the fantastic group of individuals spearheading that organization utilized it and took action to better help those they serve. For instance, polling parents to discover that kids were not attending the club simply because they cannot physically get their child there after school which lead to fundraising efforts allowing the expansion of a busing system from local schools. Talking to the kids about their interest and observing their activities in their down time lead to the exciting creation of a new music recording studio and a dance/performing arts space upstairs to not only provide kids with an immediate outlet now but even potentially inspire them to pursue careers in these areas.
Some of us may need more guidance honing communication skills and for others it may be more natural, but sometimes poor communication can just be a result of not talking to the right people or presenting the right details to get the message across. As we discovered in Tedi Winnett’s presentation, generational differences are huge in how messages can be perceived and accepted. With people living and working longer, many workplaces have upwards to five generations (Silent, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z) under their umbrella – that is a huge challenge as each generation has been influenced by a certain set of values and life experiences which can influence how they communicate and can be communicated with. Especially as culturally we have become more and more diverse every generation. Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian further articulated the importance of communication and how inefficient communication can lead to troubles with community projects and initiatives. Most important, he said, is communicating your vision (which connected with “Truth Four – Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart” presented today by Trisha Camosy) so that you can bring people along and create a team to bring the vision to fruition (connecting to “Truth Five – You Can’t Do It Alone” presented today by Renee Young-Trego). Accepting compromise and having patience with projects is also critical in the public sector (can be long, slow process), but he emphasized to always make sure everyone knows exactly what you plan to do and more importantly, why. Change is hard for some people, but everyone needs to be able to change as it is a part of life.
Later, we visited the ECLA Outreach Center to hear about their organization as well as the United Way of Kenosha. While there, Jordania Leon-Jordan of UW-Parkside gave us a workshop about project management to help us as the Leadership Kenosha teams begin to move forward with their community projects. Creating documents such as a Project Charter and Communication Plan help ensure that your team, project partners and others who will benefit from your project know exactly the who, what, when, where, why and how the project. As Jordania said, “95% of success is communication.”