When I signed up for the emerging leaders program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined our first day would be like a lecture, that we would listen to speakers, and take notes on leadership. But to my surprise, it turned out to be so much more than that.
I arrived at our cohort’s first session, a few minutes late, and was a little nervous about it. However, I was immediately greeted by Mel, one of the hosts of our session, who didn’t seem in the least bit upset about it. In fact, she greeted me warmly, and even asked me about my business, American English TEFL, which I was surprised that she even knew about since it was our first time meeting. But it really showed the extent that the emerging leaders program went to know its participants.
I’m not sure if it was because I got the luck of the draw in terms of cohort members, Mel and Monica moderating an environment that felt safe enough to open in, or if it was because on some level, as professionals in a program to advance our leadership skills, we understood that part of being a leader is standing in our truth, and hearing the truths of others. That building authentic community relationships meant whether we agreed or disagreed on a topic, we could seek out the nuance of our interlocutor’s perspective.
Since coming to Grand Rapids three years ago, I’ve been looking for opportunities to make connections. I think I’ve finally found the place that I’ve been looking for.
Tea is a part of our first Emerging Leaders Series Cohort of 2022. Interested in our second cohort? Learn more here.