It has been my honor to participate in the Leadership Durant class of 2017-2018, sponsored by the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce. Our Leadership class consists of 20 professionals who, with their employers’ support, have dedicated themselves to becoming better leaders and citizens.
It has been an enormously rewarding experience. It’s also been difficult, frustrating, inspirational, informative, challenging, and at times, hilarious. Throughout the year, our class has grown personally and professionally, through challenges and activities I would never have otherwise experienced.
You have to want it.
Expectations were set during the very involved application process, and reinforced during our orientation:
- You must have the support of your employer. The program takes time and energy.
- You must want to participate. No one is going to make you.
- If you don’t participate, you won’t gain from the program, and you likely won’t graduate.
You can’t grow inside your comfort zone.
The culture at Staff One HR is one of learning, rather than “knowing,” and our leadership strongly encourages professional growth and learning opportunities, and the result is a team of people who aren’t afraid to take chances, and who constantly push their limits. My boss immediately endorsed my application for the Leadership Durant program, and has been unfailingly supportive, checking on my progress and the group’s activities.
Our first Leadership day consisted of a ropes course, complete with a 30-foot leap from a “power pole.” The sun was beating down, we barely knew each other, and the tasks were physically and mentally challenging. As we worked together to overcome each obstacle and succeed as a group, we bonded. We encouraged each other through frustration and sometimes, tears. We laughed at ourselves, and we quickly developed a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Do the work.
As the weeks passed, we did exercises to help us better communicate with each other and understand our own communication styles. We laid plans for a major fundraising event. We toured medical facilities, waste water treatment plants, and large local manufacturing facilities. We went on ride-alongs with police officers and highway patrol troopers. We attended City Council meetings, civic club meetings, and school board meetings. We logged volunteer hours and asked hundreds of questions.
We sold circus tickets, directed traffic for parades, did radio and TV interviews, went to town hall meetings, and supported local businesses at ribbon cuttings…in addition to holding full-time jobs. We organized and hosted Taste of Durant, an upscale event with more than 350 guests, a band, and food from 18 different restaurants, handling everything from booking facilities and entertainers to decorating, securing sponsorships, and selling tickets.
Finally, each Leadership student is required to deliver a presentation to the class on a subject about which he or she is passionate. Public speaking can present a challenge, but one by one, we stepped up to the plate.
Develop more than leaders.
When our class visited the Oklahoma State Capitol and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, it was a serious and somber day. When we visited Washington, D.C. and New York City, it was an absolute whirlwind of information, experiences, and growth.
I’m so proud of my Leadership class – not just the class, but the individuals in it. We’ve worked hard, supported each other, held each other accountable, and developed skills and knowledge we can take back to our employers and our lives. Many cities and states offer Leadership programs, and I encourage anyone who is interested in personal and professional growth to seek out these opportunities.
I’m also proud of Staff One HR, for without our culture of learning and the support of our leadership, I would never have had this formative experience. If you’re looking for a rewarding career with a growing company, check us out. I celebrated 20 years with Staff One HR in April 2018, and I wouldn’t trade a minute.
Contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.