(Janice Crawford, MWV Chamber Executive Director and Heather Clement, Chalmers Account Manager)
There is much I will take with me from my experience with Leadership MWV. One of the first things is that recognizing that although what you say is important, the way you say it has even more of an impact. After attending several town meetings, I quickly realized that although my personal philosophies might line up with one member of the town budget committee, if their ideas were presented in a way that I found to be brash and impatient, their message was clouded. When the person representing the other side of the issue spoke articulately and with respect, I was impressed and paid more attention to their arguments, even if my personal beliefs were contrary to their position. There is definitely a place for emotion and passion in leadership, but wisdom learns when and how to channel that passion so they can communicate their vision in a professional and considerate manner.
That said, passion does have a place in Leadership. Having the self awareness to grasp and understand your passion helps you learn what areas to focus your energies on. When pouring yourself into a cause that resonates with the core of who you are, work seems less like work, and more like purpose. Just as importantly, learning what those you are leading are passionate about enables you to align those team members with areas of responsibility that will resonate with who THEY are, and they will be motivated to succeed. Vision without passion is mechanical. Vision with passion is inspirational.
I also learned that Leaders are often born from experience – sometimes we are drawn into a position of leadership simply because the circumstances in our lives necessitate that we take on that role. Often we are asked to lead, or we find something we think we’d be good at and we move in that direction… but there are also times when we find ourselves in a situation where we have no choice but to step up and face an issue head-on. How we respond in those moments says much about our character. I am grateful to have had the privilege of spending some time with Janice Spinney, the director of MWV Supports Recovery. Janice taught me that sometimes the best leaders are not the ones who set out to take the helm, but those who are clinging to the wheel, white knuckled, because they simply cannot imagine walking away. That kind of engagement breeds leaders who are courageous and committed.
Lastly, I am grateful to Leadership MWV for teaching me the importance of having a tribe. We all have circles of family, friends and colleagues – people that come alongside and help us achieve our goals. This course has connected me with people whose paths might never have crossed with mine, and I am thankful for that, because tribes should be colorful. Each individual we come in contact with has unique gifts and talents, and when we rally around a common cause, those strengths can be meshed together and leveraged to effect change and make our community a better place. Expanding our tribe involves listening – and paying attention to others. I’m committed more than ever to taking the time to really get to know those in my tribe – to move beyond surface conversation and find out what makes them tick… to find our commonalities and build on them, but to also learn how our differences can complement one another. Thanks for being part of my tribe.
Heather Clement, Commercial Lines Account Manager, North Conway NH