Learning and Leading

Learning and Leading

Last week marked the second to last session for our Emerging Leaders 2022 Cohort. I am already feeling its positive effects on my lifetime leadership journey.

Early on, we learned to Lead in Place, engaging us to think about how we use our current position to wield positive impact, regardless of our title and number of mentees. We can constantly learn and grow, bringing others along with us, rather than needing to set ourselves apart.

Moving into future sessions, we covered topics like Our Community and Finding Our Strengths while continuing to make connections both with speakers and peers.

In Leading in Different Ways, we learned that leading can look like the more traditional definition: providing guidance and structure to a meeting or being responsible for people who report to you. It can also look like advocacy and allyship, spreading knowledge and wisdom, making change to flawed systems and processes, providing resources, enhancing motivation, setting a good example, and/or making connections. One size does not fit all, and our range of speakers demonstrated this.

In Finding our Strengths, Meg Derrer lead us in board prep training content. We not only covered the basics of non-profit board structures, purposes, and responsibilities, which I’m confident I have been challenged to find through other avenues, but also took a deep dive into examining if/what board might be a good fit for each one of us. We broke down our core values (the why), asset reflection (the how), focus area (the who) and how all of that is brought into an impact statement. My impact statement read:

“I bring to my community my adventurous personality, creative problem solving skills, and sustainable thinking. I am making the world a better place for those in moments of transition.”

I intentionally left Moments of Transition vague and open ended. I don’t have a passion for particular demographic, but rather a mindset: a growth and development mindset regardless of where one is in their life journey. Through both studies and personal experience, users experiencing transitions have the highest probability to both feeling lost and be the most open to change—positive or negatively. These transitions could be anything from graduate high school or college to starting a full time job or starting the care of a child. It could be getting married, moving from homeless-to-homed, losing a close family member, changing jobs, moving countries, returning from a life changing experience like war. It could be as simple as an impactful birthday.  To me, interacting with individuals whom are also in these usually messy times throughout their life feels like my opportunity to have the most impact.

In a totally different form of leadership, Natalia Kovicak, President of the Economics Club of Grand Rapids, spoke to us about the mission and opportunity of this local economic organization. Natalia is both the traditional form of leadership as she manages an entire organization, but she also leads through sharing knowledge and making connections. She is sets a prime example of a role model through the more indirect ways she leads. She invited all of us to be guests at this week’s Economic Club event of which I was able to attend. I saw many familiar faces from different points of my professional career as well as met new people. Natalia effectively made connections for us through a simple invitation. One of the speakers on stage at this event, Carlos Cubia, Chief DEI and Sustainability Officer at Corewell Health, had a fantastic quote:

“Your mind is like a parachute. It only works if you open it.”

Through this Emerging Leaders experience, I’m challenged to understand that I don’t have to be the traditional definition of a leader. And I don’t have to be only be one type of leader either. Coordinating with my strengths, I can lead in many ways, starting today.

I’m learning my why. The ladder I’m climbing is worth the climb.
I’m learning to make my mind a parachute.
I’m learning how to make an impact.
I’m learning how to help others make an impact.


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