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Leadership roundtables provide opportunities for growth

Jon Hauser

I am super blessed to participate in a book club and leadership roundtable led by Dr. Faith Ngunjiri, the director of the Lorentzsen Center at Concordia College, and Dr. Paul Dovre, Concordia College president emeritus. I am thankful for these two gifted leaders and each member of the group. Each of them bring a wonderful insight, perspective and wisdom I learn from and grow forward with.

Habit #7 in Stephen Covey's classic "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is called "Sharpen the Saw." The concept is simply that we must actively commit to continual personal and organizational growth or our "blade" will get dull and ineffective. My favorite and most effective way of growing is to rub shoulders with others who are growing; observing and discussing faith, life and leadership concepts with them. Proverbs 27:17 is right on: "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

A valuable addition to the book club is each summer we are hosted at the home of a successful, community-minded leader in our region. This year we were hosted by Brad and Carol Schlossman. They have been successful in a variety of leadership roles and community initiatives, with their most notable accomplishment being the successful leadership of West Acres Property Development. In a season where malls are struggling around the country, West Acres has continued to adapt, grow, invest in our region, and remain a positive contributor to our community.

Here are some of the most impactful takeaways from our time with Brad and Carol. Not having any experience in the retail business, but reading about and watching the rapid changes happening in that industry, I enjoyed Brad's perspective. Brad was very forthcoming about the opportunities and the risks, while demonstrating a highly collaborative commitment; reminding me when we build walls around ourselves during challenging times we are only hurting ourselves. Isolation is never a positive step forward. Sometimes, in attempting to defeat our competition we are actually hurting ourselves and the industries in which we work.

When Brad was asked what he wants to be remembered for, his response was specific and powerful: "I want to be remembered for how I treated people and that I was good at my job." Carol shared fascinating insights on values and said, "We need to see our jobs as 'playgrounds of opportunity' not just a 'place to work.'" It was a joy and inspiration to see Brad and Carol leverage and celebrate each other's strengths.

I was reminded how leadership growth and innovation can propel forward during times of change and uncertainty. Brad said "We are having more fun at work than ever" with a more diverse workforce that is choosing to pull and move forward together. Very few industries and jobs are currently facing status quo. The winds of change, internally and externally, are blowing stronger with every passing day. But, we can choose to embrace the chaos, build healthy cultures and maintain positive, can-do attitudes!

I am thankful for successful leaders willing to share their experiences with others. I have been the recipient of their investments and I pray God helps me to multiply for good what has been poured in to me. Perhaps there is someone you can learn from and someone you can invest in this week.

God bless you! See you next Sunday.