I couldn’t help but notice two common themes between the group of thought provoking and inspirational speakers during Seminar I of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute Class XI: culture and core values.
Culture is important in our daily occupation and industries we serve. However, it’s important to everyone’s experience in Class XI. The Wedgworth Leadership Institute is well known for its culture built by numerous leaders, mentors, and enthusiasts for Florida Agriculture.
Dr. CC Suarez spoke about the importance of understanding the culture involved in agriculture. One of my most memorial experiences throughout the week was hearing everyone’s unique perspective and story in their industry. Oftentimes we get tunnel vision and focus on one industry without learning what our peers in agriculture are also experiencing. “The Danger of a Single Story,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie does a great job of explaining just how important this experience is.
The culture is the personality of a company or organization. Culture defines the reputation for the organization, and I would say the future of the Florida’s agriculture industry is in good hands with the culture and values Class XI entails.Read More
Aha Moments to Athletic Directors
Life has a funny way of bringing things together, making sense out of the silly things and experiences encountered along the way. Life also has a way of teaching us about the important things, how trust, integrity and self-evaluation is critical if we choose to be effective and great leaders of our time. Nelson Mandela once said “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”, and boy did Class XI learn on day 3 how leaders can rise and fall throughout life.
We kicked off the morning in Austin Cary Forest at the Stern Learning Center with an eye opening presentation on “stress”, and how many leaders go about it all wrong. Did you know that stress can actually be used as motivation, and if managed correctly, can be viewed as a strength? Although stress affects everyone differently, there are techniques to changing our behavior, which changes our thoughts, and essentially the mood we are in, but all closely correlated to the level of stress we are experiencing.
However we choose to deal with stress, it is important to practice mindfulness meditation, avoid burnout at all cost, and always take time to reflect on recent events.
10 Strategies of Reflection
- Making Metaphors
- Role Taking
- Journal Writing
- Peer Leadership
- Fish Bowling
- Quote Response
- Thinking Aloud
- Imaginary Videotaping
- Devils Walking Stick
Class XI had the honor and unique experience to meet one of the greatest legends in the history of University of Florida Athletics. Mr. Jeremy Foley, the UF Athletics Director Americus shared with us his rise and fall as a leader. He expressed that everyone has to have an intentional desire to be a leader, and that leaders are made, not born. It takes work, it takes integrity, you have to be trusted, and you have to show your followers that you care about them as individuals, as well as the task at hand.
Developing culture in a program is the key to a successful organization.”Jeremy Foley
As Class XI wrapped up photo opportunities with the man responsible for 27 National titles in 10 different sports for the University of Florida, spouses trickled in for lunch and the afternoon session.
Have you ever wondered why your spouse carelessly installs the new roll of toilet paper facing the wrong direction, or how he/she can maintain the speed limit in a car while driving, even though you are running extremely late for a very important event? What does the Cyndi Lauper song “True Colors” have to do with leadership? Well, fortunately there are personality types in all of us that are very similarly grouped in 4 colors. Dr. Joe Joyce, gave us all that “AHA” moment as he explained the four personality types in his presentation of “ What Are Your True Colors?”, followed by a strengths discovery presentation by Ms. Megan Stein, Lecturer at the UF Department of Ag Ed and Communication.
Although tired and worn-out from the long day of learning, the excitement of meeting the extended Class XI family filled the room of the Farm Credit of Central Florida building. A huge applause to Mr. Jeffery Spencer, Mr. Zak Seymour and staff of Farm Credit, who could not have been more hospitable, preparing for us one of the finest slabs of bovine we have ever enjoyed.
At the completion of the feast, we each had the ability to share photos of our family and tell stories along the way. Although some were extremely funny, others had us all fighting back tears as we learned some of the health battles and recent losses of loved ones. This night was a defining moment, a huge step in the lifelong relationships we are going to build with each other along the way.Read More
How Diversity Ties Us All Together
One of the greatest limitations I have in my life is that I view things only through the lens of my own outlook. When something occurs in my domain, it is typically viewed solely through the impact it has on me and my surroundings. What if we could view these happenings through a different focal point?
So how does this tie into visits to a hospital, community organizations, a downtown revitalization project, and even an etiquette class? And, why would diversity matter in any of this?
Buckle up for day 2 of Class XI with the Wedgworth Leadership Institute.
Ed Jimenez, UF Health
It’s more about what someone hears than what I say. People don’t always listen, but they always watch.”Ed Jimenez
Ed Jimenez, CEO of UF Health, kicked it into high gear at 8:00 sharp. With a $1.8 billion budget, eleven thousand employees, and a hospital kitchen second to none, he threw out the following leadership nuggets:
- Know your purpose. Leadership starts with purpose.
- The “why” may be very different for everyone
- Have perspective in understanding why each person does what they do
- Managers have “hard skills”. Leaders have “soft skills”.
- Facts, facts, and more facts.
- Informed decisions come from facts
- Know the why, not just data
- Lead by example.
- If you choose management, take responsibility.
- Communicate well.
“If you are not happy with average, do better.”Ed Jiminez
Mr. Jimenez challenged us all to look at those we walk the halls with, serve with, work with, or even our day-to-day employees and understand that what we do on a regular basis affects each person we come in contact with.
After UF Health, we ventured out into the Gainesville community to visit various nonprofit organizations looking to influence the human landscape of their area. This included a homeless resource center, a center to help end sex-trafficking, an organization to help keep the county clean, a place to help empower young girls, and a working food center to help end local hunger. And, this was all just in one town.
Are you like me and are maybe unaware that similar groups are working in our own neighborhoods to change the world around us? Am I even aware that there is such a need in so many diverse situations? Do I look the other way? Do I even see these people? Am I even looking for them? Do I go to the neighborhoods that these individuals frequent? What can I do to help these groups? What do these organizations need from me or how can I help influence change? What am I doing today or tomorrow to make a difference with these organizations? How can I use my influence, connections, resources, or leadership skills to make my community more livable? Am I willing to fill the gap?
We as Class XI were able to spend some time wrestling with these questions. While working through all this, we sat in a downtown venue and were mesmerized as the story unfolded about how a downtown park came to be from a vision of a few people. In what once was a decrepit old swamp now stood a testament to a vision, a dream, a renaissance. In the place of a mosquito trap now stood a community park, a gathering place, a venue for groups to intermingle, a chance for families to fly a kite, and a place for future dreams to be cast.
In this same venue, we had the chance to learn about connection through etiquette:
- Social vs Business Etiquette
- Why should I care? 1st Impressions matter!
- Names hold meaning
- Introductions have order
- Appearance matters
- Telephone etiquette and handwritten notes show you value others
The purpose of etiquette is to make others feel comfortable.
Day two challenged us to think about our responsibilities as leaders in our own communities. Here’s some questions to reflect on regarding your impact and responsibility:
- Am I making it personable with those I associate with?
- Am I seeing my neighborhood and those I can help influence?
- What am I doing today to make life better for my community and make it more livable?
- Am I seeing the vision and dream for a “swamp” in my community?
- Am I leaving a lasting impression with those I associate with?
- What can I do to make a difference in the lives of others and leave a lasting impression on my community?
- What am I doing, changing, learning that will make others feel comfortable?
Day 1: From Strangers to Tears in 12 Hours Flat
Who knew you could take 30 complete strangers, add in a couple team-building challenges, rubber-play toys, Legos, and a personal item and bring these unique individuals to tears in less than 12 hours? That is just what occurred with the kickoff of Seminar I of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute’s Class XI. Here’s how it quickly added up:
30 strangers meet up at 9 AM at Lake Wauburg, south of Gainesville to learn who we will spend the next 22 months with,
THEN break them into teams with rubber play toys, tarps, team building exercises, an obstacle course with blindfolds, water cans and Legos,
NOW we know who we are teammates with and begin to glimpse just how cool this group is going to be interacting with.
Take these 30 now-teammates that did not know each other 12 hours previously, gather for an afternoon session on leading with humilty, and then take part in a meal graciously hosted by Florida Farm Bureau that evening.
THEN have them each bring a personal item to tell about themselves.
NOW you have tears, vulnerability, and a closeness to teammates that is something I have never seen come together so quickly.
After spending the day learning names and getting to know each other, we each shared a personal belonging that was special to us. Whether this was about a special pocket knife passed down from generation to generation, a very personal item maybe sacred or reminder of a parent, a Christmas ornament, a pair of work boots, a special memento necklace as a reminder of a dad passed too soon, a belt buckle or two, the wrist band announcing the birth of a brand new baby, or simply an item as a reminder of where we came from. All led to a connection of a team ready to see our communities and world in a whole new light.
“Team 11” is off to a great start. We now know who our teammates are, the names they will go by, and who forgot to wear deodorant the first day.
The Class 11 team of the WLI – the class so great that we require two #1s!Read More
Temptations of Talent
Growing up, I was not very good at sports. To be transparent, “not very good” is giving myself grace. First, it was soccer. My asthmatic lungs whimpered each time the ball soared past me. Next, I tried out softball. I am convinced my hand-eye coordination gene has a permanent “out of order” sign. Then, my parents enrolled me in tennis lessons. Again, flying objects? Not a highlight of my childhood. What did I do? I quit. First, soccer then softball and finally tennis. I do not recall how I introduced the idea of quitting each time, but I clearly remember how my parents reacted. Initially, I was met with disappointment. The disappointment would merge into offers of private coaches and additional lessons. My refusal transformed into new sports pamphlets conveniently arriving on the kitchen counter.
At ten-years-old, I had to take ownership of my apparent lack of talent. I crushed my father’s dreams of proudly waving down at me as I accepted an Olympic gold medal on behalf of the United States. Looking back at this time in my life, this should have been obvious to my parents. I run at the pace of a turtle stampeding through peanut butter. I would beg to be taken to the library and was disappointed when I was brought to the playground. I was talented in a lot of areas. Athletics was not one of them. My parents overlooked the evident signs of my lack of ability with the blissful hope that I could be coached or trained to be great.
This seems like a simple concept. Do not make someone do what they are not good at. However, most organizations are built on the same blissful hope of two inaccurate assumptions:
- Each person has the ability to be competent in almost anything.
- Each person has the biggest room to grow where they are weak.
These assumptions guide why organizations spend so much time and resources training people to gain necessary skills rather than hiring and using those who already have them. Think of it this way – your organization has money set aside to send one employee to public speaking professional development training. You are trying to decide between two people – the one who naturally gives presentations well or the individual who has a challenging time conveying their thoughts publicly. Who do you send? Most people gravitate towards the person who has a weakness in public speaking. However, when it comes time to ask one of them to speak on behalf of your organization the person with natural talent is often selected.
Organizations are at their strongest when people are doing what they are good at. Through interviews with top global performers, Clifton identified that talent is innate. Through an investment of time and energy, those who are naturally talented can master or perfect their craft. With the same investment, individuals who do not possess the talent may show improvement; however, this will not be equivalent to those who already start with the innate ability.
We are often tempted to ignore our talents. We know the three areas that we struggle but overlook the ten where we naturally excel. Focusing on one’s weaknesses will prevent failure, but it will never encourage success. To be successful, you must manage your weaknesses but invest in your talents.
Managing weaknesses and focusing on weaknesses are very different tasks. Those who manage their weaknesses reach out to individuals who are skilled in areas where they are weak. You rely on your team rather than yourself when you know it is not an area you excel in.
As leaders, it can be challenging to give up control and ask for help. We often think that relying on others shows that we are lacking. However, the sign of a true leader is one who has their organization’s best interest in mind. Using self-awareness to illuminate areas where you need help is a foundational piece to being an authentic leader.
Identifying weakness takes strength. Be proud of where you are strong, and identify those who can help you where you are weak.
Thoughts to reflect on:
- What are the areas in your life where you should rely on others’ help?
- How are you investing in your talents?
- How are you encouraging those around you to invest in their talents and become the best?
Clifton Strengths perspective adapted from Now, Discover Your Strengths (2001) by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton.
Clifton Strengths for Class XI
- Responsibility – individuals who are committed to what they say they will do
- Achiever – those who work hard and take great satisfaction from being busy and productive
- Ideation – people who are fascinated by ideas
- Deliberative – those who take serious care in decision making and choices
- Arranger – individuals who can organize, but combine resources for maximum productivity
Futuristic – people who are inspired by the future and what could be
With 278,256 unique combinations of Clifton Strengths talents, Class XI is one of a kind. What does this combination of themes mean for the leaders embarking on their journey with the Wedgworth Leadership Institute? With four out of six talents in the executing domain, Class XI is exceptionally talented in making things happen. Those with talents in the executing domain work tirelessly to make an idea come to life. Paired with the remaining two strengths in the strategic thinking domain, Class XI also has the ability to think through possibilities and analyze opportunity.
For Class XI to transform their talents into strengths, it requires effort. One must be willing to intentionally invest their time, effort, and energy into their talents. Think through how you have used your talents in the past week. What tasks did you complete that came naturally to you? Did you receive a compliment on any task you have completed? What contributed to you having a great day? If any of those answers came quickly to you, perhaps it’s because you were naturally flexing your talents. As individuals in leadership roles, we must channel what makes us talented and how we can uniquely serve those around us.
Thoughts to Reflect On:
- How can you plan to invest time in your talents in the next two weeks?
- What talents, from Class XI or in general, accurately represent Florida’s agricultural and natural resources industries as a whole?
For more information regarding Clifton Strengths, please feel free to contact Megan Stein, firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
Architects: Leaders for the next decade
It’s that time of year – we’re either excited that we’ve got all of our Christmas shopping done or we are frantic that we haven’t even started shopping yet. Regardless, it’s the end of the year, and well, the end of a decade. As we sip our holiday beverages or search for what can be delivered next day on Amazon, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the last 365 days and the past 10 years.
Looking back on this past year, a lot has happened, and it seemed to have all happened so fast. One of the most notable experiences from this past year includes my involvement with the Wedgworth Leadership Institute. This year, we welcomed our new director Christy Chiarelli, met some of Florida agriculture’s brightest while traveling to selection seminars, and kicked off a very impactful first seminar with Class XI. The first seminar was nothing short of awesome – inspiring speakers, thought-provoking conversations, and great fellowship.
But as I reflect solely on Seminar I, several of our speakers used a term in their remarks that really stood out to me: architect. I wrote it down in my Wedgworth journal several times then underlined or circled it. It was a fascinating connection between leadership and what we do as leaders in the “real world.” We heard it in a couple of different contexts: be an architect… of culture for your organization, …and design a space for collaboration, … and create an environment for productivity. This one term answers a really big question that we face often as leaders – now what? We’ve stepped up to the plate as leaders. Now what?
I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I really enjoy making things not only look good, but ensure they are useful and effective. I’ve developed a passion for designing experiences that inspire or engage people to do big things. Whether it’s a website, conference, or even an app (more on this later), it’s very similar to being an architect of sorts. A very important and common element in becoming this architect is intentionality.
If you’ve ever been part of a construction project, you understand the level of detail that must be considered all throughout the process. From the early stages of “let’s build something,” to determining the exterior wall color and which doors have locks, there’s so much that goes into designing and building a structure of any type. An architect must consider every single detail: fire and safety, accessibility, effective use of space, energy efficiency, and things I would never even think of when constructing a building. In addition to all of these details, they are also delivering a space that is inviting, serves a purpose, houses conversation, and creates a sense of structure.
What can we learn from architects? One crucial takeaway is intentionality. As a leader in your community or organization, have you intentionally considered how you lead others or create a culture with others? Like an architect, this means considering the details from start to finish, internal and external. And a good architect shows careful consideration to every detail, making an effective use of every square foot and creating appeal with every corner.
As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.Norman Foster
It’s the end of the year and you may be asking yourself that bold question, “Now what?” My challenge to you would be to become an architect. Now, don’t put away your boots or sell off the land to head back to school for building and construction… I mean become an architect of culture, collaboration, and productivity. Consider what you can do intentionally to contribute to these important components of our industry. Our issues aren’t going to become less challenging anytime soon, so we have to be intentional with how we approach problem solving. And problem solving involves people. Lots of people. Different types of people. People with different perspectives. As an architect/leader, how can we intentionally bring these people together to resolve an issue? How can we intentionally schedule a meeting to encourage collaboration? How can we intentionally create a culture that drives innovation and moves agriculture forward?
It’s a pretty bold challenge and question to consider. But if I learned anything from my experience with construction, there’s a lot of people involved. The architect works with the contractor or builder to help ensure the project becomes a reality. As leaders, we can also work with our boards, managers, and others to ensure that our leadership plan comes together. This is another opportunity to be intentional.
At the first seminar, I was able to briefly share the answer to my own “now what?” for my role with Wedgworth. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been dreaming about what the future of leadership development looks like. We wanted something to keep our networks connected and provide an opportunity to continue growing as leaders. Now, there’s an app for that. Next year, we will be introducing the Wedgworth Leadership app. Class XI participants will be the first to use the app with plans to roll out the app to alumni members shortly after. The app will include Wedgworth’s own social network and “notebooks” of resources for continuous learning.
We’re looking forward to sharing this with each of you. Just like an architect, we drew out the plans and sweated the details. This was our opportunity to build a new structure that could bring people together and make a difference. We hope the app engages agriculture’s own architects to grow as leaders in the next decade.
So, now what?Read More
It’s not okay to be okay.Mr. Jeremy Foley, UF Athletic Director Emeritus
This statement shared at Class XI’s first seminar perfectly describes the sentiment of my first six months as program director. So many alumni and friends of the program have offered their support and have all been consistent in their message about the preeminence of this program. When I heard Jeremy Foley make this statement, it summed up my goal for the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources. It’s not okay to be okay.
For our industries to survive in today’s climate, “okay” doesn’t cut it. We must be the standard bearers for the leadership we want to see in Florida agriculture and natural resources. In reviewing the 63 applications for Class XI, it was evident that “okay” people weren’t nominated. We have a class of 30 individuals who represent 22 unique sub-sectors of the industry, from citrus to cattle to sod production. Class members also bring geographic diversity, representing 22 different counties across the state, from Calhoun to St. Johns to Miami-Dade.
Two individuals helping Janice and me ensure Class XI has a first-class experience are Brian Myers and Kevin Kent. Brian is the department chair for the UF/IFAS Agricultural Education and Communication Department and is serving in the role of faculty adviser for Class XI. Kevin is a doctoral student and serving as the program coordinator for Class XI. I’m thrilled to have both gentlemen on our team.
I hope you enjoy the first edition of Class XI’s Wedgworth Wire. We have changed the newsletter format just a bit in an effort to be responsive to digital content management. If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
My hope, as we approach 2020, is none of us will settle for simply “okay.” But rather continue to serve as high-impact leaders in our industries and communities and use our WLI network to support and advance Florida agriculture and natural resources.Read More
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