The Emerging Leadership Academy can be summed up for me in two words: strengths and collaboration.
We learned that to be successful we should focus on the skills that challenge and engage us. That, I think, is the key to the ELA’s success: we learned to develop strengths we already have. In doing so we learned about the strengths and skills of the people around us. This was never clearer to me than in the discussion of our Strengths Finder test. The importance of the assessment was not that it pinpointed our motivating factors, but that we saw how those factors have played out in our past achievements.
Learning my own motivational drives fostered a curiosity about the people in my life: what drives them? What different skills do we each bring to the table? In short, I became conscious of what steps to take to create positive partnerships and leadership.
In ELA, collaboration is the cornerstone for success. Many of us work for organizations that rely on outside partnerships. Working in the public sector means that many projects cannot be achieved without partnerships. Meanwhile, our daily work is a series of collaborations with co-workers, employers, and clients to succeed in a shared goal.
The discussion of collaboration was my favorite class moment. To learn about collaboration, we were divided into groups based on similar collaboration styles and asked to decide how we would survive a very specific disaster scenario. We engaged the problem as a group, we had fun, and we found a solution we all were happy with. It served to remind me that we are rarely the only person responsible for our projects or achievements. Sharing the work with equally motivated people creates a better work environment.
In the same class we learned that people will more than likely sit in a building that may be on fire just because others refuse to leave the building. While it seems ridiculous, learning that was an important reminder that we collaborate best when we bring our individual thoughts and experiences to the table. It is tempting at times to just agree with the group, but collaborations succeed when we each engage at our highest levels. But seriously, if you’re in a room that suddenly fills with smoke: just leave no matter what other people are doing.
I look forward to whatever collaborations come from within this group. Everyone involved in ELA has great minds, great senses of humor, and, as the portfolio presentations proved, great accomplishments. Knowing each other, Noel, and the ELA’s guest speakers, I’m sure these collaborations will create long-lasting positive impacts on our communities.