“The potential to lead exists in you. If you apply your head, your heart, and your courage, you can learn to lead”. Our March class focused around “The Best Leaders are the Best Learners”. Upon arrival at the Gateway Technical College Horizon Center, we were welcomed by Zina Haywood, Executive Vice President/Provost for Academic & Campus Affairs. We were given a brief overview of Gateway and we took a guided tour of the Horizon facility.
Since our theme was “leadership and learning”, we quickly moved into our review of the book The Truth About Leadership. This chapter focused on developing leaders through being a life-learner, which takes deliberate practice. It requires setting improvement goals, staying open to feedback, working on strengths and weaknesses, and having the support of others. Understanding that leadership is learnable allows you to be open to opportunities that are all around you. As this month’s presenters, Gia, Jackie, and I challenged the class to go beyond their comfort zones, believe in themselves, and don’t be afraid to learn new things.
After our book review, we had a presentation and interactive discussion with representatives and staff from Building Our Future. This non-profit organization is a network of community leaders representing all sectors of Kenosha County committed to improving student outcomes using a collective impact model. Because data allows them to measure their impact and continuously evaluate and improve their processes, we reviewed K-12 and post-secondary educational data and we discussed the trends and commonalities in the data. We then had the opportunity to do an analysis using the post-secondary data that we reviewed. We had to come up a problem statement surrounding post-secondary data and provide “why” statements surrounding the problem. Many of the reasons were due to barriers that could result in a student not being successful. I believe as leaders, we can look at problems that face us either personally or professionally and come up with our own strategies and benchmarks to ensure a more positive outcome. The important piece is to look at your problem for what it is and come with your own “why” statements which could direct you in the overall solution of the problem.
During our group lunch, we had the opportunity to meet with Tarik Hamdan, Chief Finical Officer with Kenosha Unified School District. Mr. Hamdan provided financial overviews and funding processes for K-12 education. I think the class enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about public school funding through open dialogue. The class didn’t hold back on their questions and Mr. Hamdan was open about funding and how if affects not only the teachers, but all stakeholders.
Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, we wrapped up with H. Muir, a consultant from Chicago, who shared with us how to build our personal and leadership brand. Prior to class we all took the Strength Finders test, which provided us with our top five strengths. As Mr. Muir revealed our class members’ overall strengths, we had the opportunity to understand the benefits of not only our strengths, but how our strengths can also be draining our energy and can have a negative impact on us progressing as a strong leader. It was very enlightening for each of us. We walked away learning a little more about ourselves as leaders. We also had a chance to do a deep dive and learn how to brand ourselves using our strengths. We reviewed the 4 P’s of marketing yourself a leader:
POWER – Who you are as a leader?
PURPOSE – What do you contribute and to whom?
PITCH/POV (point of view)- Who are you? What do you value? What do you expect from others and what do they expect from you?
POSSE- Have your coaches, mentors and team of people around you for support and guidance.
By the end of the session, we all learned how to brand ourselves as leaders. Overall, the entire day was engaging, educational, and reflective. I feel I can take the next steps on my leadership journey. I know that no matter what path my journey takes me, I must be intentional, deliberate, a life-learner, and focused-driven; always ready to learn something new. Today, I know each of us learned something new.
—Tamarra Coleman, LK Class of 2020