By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
Do you know what makes some leaders more successful than others?
If you think attitude, drive, passion, commitment, empathy, or other similar descriptions, you’re right. But there’s something even more strategic that great leaders do. They realize the importance of investing time and money to ensure that they themselves – and all leaders within their organization – are constantly learning, growing and improving.
In today’s world, many business leaders are regularly operating at a frenzied pace and believe they are simply “too busy” to attend a class/seminar/training/workshop, to read an educational report or book, to watch training videos, etc.
But smart leaders realize they can’t afford not to do those things. These leaders realize that being a well-rounded leader who is always seeking to grow and improve will save them considerable time and money by:
All of the above build stronger teams, which sets the foundation for stronger, more successful companies and organizations.
Investing in leadership training of any kind is always a wise investment unless... the leaders don’t buy in to it. You might be throwing money out the window if you force someone to attend a training they aren’t interested in. If that happens, it could be a sign they simply aren’t interested in becoming a better leader (in which case it might be time to let them go lead someone else’s team), or, you aren’t asking them what they want or where they feel they need to grow.
That’s another secret of great leaders – they openly communicate with their people and aren’t afraid to ask, “What can I do to help you be more successful?” You may think you are doing a good thing by suggesting a couple of your leaders head off to a retreat center hours away for several days of training on a variety of topics. While one of those leaders may be excited and energized by that opportunity and come back a better leader, the other may dread it and spend the training time wishing he was anywhere else, like back in his office taking part in an online training opportunity that targets a particular leadership skill he feels he is lacking in. It’s tough to get buy-in on a training opportunity that is “mandated.”
Talk to your people – ask what they feel would make them better leaders, and offer them those opportunities. They, in turn, will be more loyal to you, because that’s what happens when a leader takes a genuine interest in developing their team members.
But don’t forget about yourself in the process. You are sending a strong message when you are constantly encouraging your team to learn, train and grow, yet you yourself don’t take time to do that. The message you are sending by your actions can quickly overshadow the opportunities you are offering!
The Alexandria Chamber graduated 15 more leaders from its Leadership Alexandria 2.0 class on March 6. Leadership Alexandria 2.0 was designed as a follow up to the Chamber’s popular Leadership Alexandria program, which has been running for 27 years. Graduates of Leadership Alexandria have the opportunity to participate in this five-month program that delves deeper into the “5 Voices” of leadership styles and how that leadership can impact the future of the entire community. The Chamber partners with Scott and Michelle Wiethoff of GiANT Worldwide for this program.
For more information on Leadership Alexandria 2.0 or Leadership Alexandria, contact the Alexandria Chamber at 320-763-3161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 Leadership Alexandria 2.0 graduates include (back row, left to right) Todd Emmons, Innovative Builders, Inc.; Greg Bowen, Brophy Lake Resort, Bowen Contracting, LLC; Mike Doyle, Heartland Orthopedic Specialists; Terry Anderson, AFLAC/Terry Anderson Insurance Agency, Inc.; (middle) Jess Ptacek, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce; Missy Doebber-Brever, Alexandria Technical & Community College Foundation; Christina Mohr, Zimny Insurance Agency; Rebekah Summer, Alexandria Technical & Community College; Diann Drew, Echo Press; Erin McCoy, Alomere Health; (front) Crystal Christianson, Studio C Salon; Scott Wiethoff, GiANT Worldwide; Sara Beattie, Geneva Capital; Vic Dale, Neighborhood National Bank. Not Pictured: Nate Zieske, Alexandria Industries; Tim Schoonhoven, Widseth Smith Nolting & Assoc., Inc.