From the Heart: LEAD Program Experience
Over the last two years, I have learned too many leadership concepts, developed too many skillsets, and have been introduced to, and have shared memorable moments, with far too many people to cite. In an attempt to make my capstone article more captivating to you, the reader, I have opted to go about this in a roundabout way.
It is the people, both my fellow prospective graduates and Wright Service Corp. (WSC) support staff, that I have learned the most from. It is the people that I will never forget.
The moment I walked into the room on the first day of class, I felt a connection to the people around me. This connection wasn’t based on the happenstance that these were my colleagues, or that these fellow, now graduates, were put together in a room and asked to share ideas, experiences and learn together as a group.
The connection I felt was deeper than this. These are the future leaders of the WSC family of companies. These are the future leaders of the ranks upon ranks of employees who, for many, will dedicate the majority of their adult waking lives to their respective companies, and who will ultimately dictate the success of the organization as a whole. These people are accountable, ambitious and driven to succeed. These people are like me. It is in this notion that I felt an instant connection and sense of inclusivity to these people whom I had never met before.
An anecdote to convey my point. During my visit to Des Moines for the second in-person LEAD Program session in the spring of 2019, a number of the graduates, including myself, explored the city after our second day of classes had ended. We first met for dinner, and then proceeded onto a local establishment to network and get to know each other. I learned how to play a Des Moines favorite, ‘cornhole’ (yes – this is actually the name of the game for those of you who are not familiar with it – so I’ve been told), and conversed with my fellow classmates as if I had known them for years.
As I boarded the plane the next morning to fly 1,500 miles home to Prince George, Canada, I remember thinking to myself, it is these moments, the moments you share with other people, that really matter. It is these moments that you’ll never forget, and it is these moments that make you realize that it’s the people that matter more than anything else.
This was by no means an epiphany; I’ve always recognized that it’s the people that matter most, yet it’s easy to let this recognition drift to the wayside as one navigates the upstream rapids of their day-to-day responsibilities and duties. This appreciation and acknowledgment were simply trampled upon and buried just below the surface of my consciousness as I found myself focused on numbers and names, and not the people that ultimately drove my success as a manger and the success of the company.
In saying this, this is the single most important thing that I’ve learned to remember throughout my time in the LEAD Program. Understanding personality types and knowing how to structurally lead your team is only the start. You need to be able to genuinely connect with the people you interact with, whether that be clients, peers, or the people that follow you and look to you for leadership. The relationships and experiences that you share with the people around you enable you to apply and develop the leadership concepts learned in the classroom in an organic and spontaneous way.
It’s the people that matter most. The success of the company rides entirely upon them. As a leader, you need to recognize that there is nothing without them but empty trucks and vacant offices.
I am humbled by the effort, logistical feat and sheer monetary investment that the company has devoted to my graduating class over the last two years.
I am especially thankful to members of the corporate office, including Jacqueline Mitchell from the Training and Development Department and Maryna Rath from the Marketing and Communications Department, and to all of the other support staff that have made my experience truly special and memorable. I’d also like to thank Randall Miller, my LEAD mentor, for an
unforgettable job-shadow experience. I could easily spend another 1,000 plus words recounting the experience.
Lastly, I’d like to sincerely thank the WSC executives for allowing me to participate in the LEAD Program. This investment has, and will continue, to pay dividends.