For a 9-month period, Luckett & Farley initiated a new employment development platform called the L&F Leadership Institute, launching a new commitment to becoming the A/E Employer of Choice. Receiving expert leadership training from the consultants at The Lamp Group, the Inaugural Class of 2011 was an amazing experience, and we were enthralled from day one. Eleven fellow employees and I were given a great opportunity to listen, learn, interact, and improve – complete with breakfast pastries, coffee, and snacks throughout the morning. Oh, and name tags. But not the silly “Hi, My Name Is” stick-ons at a networking event kind of name tags; these were the stand on the desk, tri-folded construction paper with a famous quote on the back kind of name tags. The first thing we did was write our names on them in big letters, and answer the question “What do you hope to get out of this class” in no certain terms. There was a lingering feeling of confusion that soon turned to curiosity and self-reflection. It was evident that class had begun.
A Different Type of Leadership Class
While I’ve been involved in leadership training opportunities on several different levels, it became apparent that this format was going to be a lot different, and a lot more fun. The leaders of Luckett & Farley and L&F Design Build described the commitment as the “greatest opportunity for L&F to grow and become a more successful company.” In the end, I’d describe it as a way for the L&F people to grow as well. My classmate John Hamilton described it best.
“The Leadership Institute didn’t just make me a better employee, it made me a better person. We have the opportunity to apply lessons learned from the Leadership Institute not only in our business dealings but our personal relationships as well.”
Well said, my good man.
Below is the pamphlet for the Class of 2014. Use the arrows at right and left to navigate.
A Curriculum Built to Enrich In and Out of the Office
It’s true, though. We were incredibly surprised and impressed with how the class topics helped to enrich our daily working habits and office communication not only inside the office, but outside as well. Monthly session topics included:
- Leadership & Emotional Intelligence
- Collaboration & Trust
- Vision / Values / Culture
- Communication (Dialogue & Managing Conflict Constructively)
- Building Relationships & Influence
- Developing Performance
- Facilitation: A Skill for Getting Results
- Strategic Thinking (Systems Thinking)
What I found to be the neatest thing about these topics was how they related directly to the architectural and engineering profession. Or banking. Or medical practice. Or teaching. The experience was like a Professional’s Survival Kit, only with multiple “Ah-ha!” moments instead of rope, gauze, and flare guns. We learned how to conduct a crucial conversation, and how to evolve our patterns of thinking. Leadership became like a trade or a craft. In fact, a particular quote from a class discussion struck me as being spot-on:
“Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”
I read that quote by famed leadership development gurus Kouzes & Posner on the first day of class, and have since adopted it as the perfect definition. In essence, the skills used to become an incredible leader and catalyst for success is the same skills one uses to show humility and understanding. To lead you must inspire, encourage, and challenge, but to succeed we must all believe it is achievable. It was that realization that has stayed with me – I can lead or I can follow, but either way I must believe in the goal.
Like Mr. Hamilton, my fellow classmates each walked away with their own gems of wisdom and insight that will make them better leaders as a direct result of the lessons learned in the L&F Leadership Institute.
Brent Collins, Marketing Manager, learned that conflict isn’t something to be avoided, but an opportunity to move closer toward the results you want. Often we think of conflict as an uncomfortable and combative interaction. By evading the opportunity to discuss, collaborate, challenge, and understand you distance yourself (and those you lead) from the results you want or miss a better, bigger result you didn’t expect. But, it can only happen when there is mutual trust.
Suzanne Alvey, Interior Designer, learned that leadership is in all of us. It has to be nurtured and developed. That’s exactly what The Luckett & Farley Leadership Institute did. It brought together good people, positive thinking and the tools needed to learn and understand new/different ways of thinking. It taught us ways to grow, not only professionally but personally. The topics covered transcend the work place to valuable life skills for relationships and interactions with all people. But learning the principles without action achieves little. To be effective leaders we have to make the effort to execute the lessons we’ve learned. It is a lifelong experience of growing and learning. It is a continuum of self-improvement.
Nicole Dorion, Director of First Impressions, learned that leadership is more than a word; it is a culmination of meshed layers that allow you to be the best you can be. “It’s empowering, it’s refreshing and more importantly, it’s contagious.”
Roger Campbell, Senior Accountant, found that in addition to leadership and personal skills learned, we were also given the opportunity to work with and better understand our co-workers. Relationships were formed and strengthened over the 9 month period have enabled us to work more efficiently and effectively in the future.
Mike Moll, Graduate Engineer, learned that we define employees by their job title and department at our own risk. The next great idea can come from anywhere in your organization, but you will never benefit from it if you aren’t listening at every opportunity. Leaders engage those around them and encourage the transfer of thoughts and knowledge across all disciplines. Leadership isn’t accomplished by adding “manager” to one’s job title, but by bringing out the best in those around you through honest example and inspiring interaction.
A Foundation for Leadership
In summary, the experience was not only eye-opening, but it set an incredible foundation for the careers of everyone in the Inaugural Class. We are hoping to continue to meet as a group, strive to set an example for our peers, and work to improve to the productivity and workflow of Luckett & Farley’s services. We have suggested areas of improvement and given feedback on our experience, and with that, Luckett & Farley is currently preparing for a second class in the Leadership Institute. Good luck to all of those submitting applications – we hope to join you in future classes and know you will enjoy the class sessions as much as we did!