2020-2021 Heart of Wisconsin Leadership Program Commences
The Heart of Wisconsin Community Leadership Program kicked off its 31st year by hosting a retreat at the Wisconsin Lions Club in Rosholt, WI. The two-day retreat brought together an eclectic group of leaders from various organizations throughout central Wisconsin and focused on learning about each other, leadership characteristics and attributes, and spurred some new initiatives that will be completed by the group.
The retreat was facilitated by Paul Liebherr of the Nekoosa School District and Krista Coon, Vice President of the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. Initial conversations and activities provided attendees’ backgrounds and strengths. These strengths were identified through taking the Top 5 CliftonStrengths assessment derived from Tom Rath’s book, Strengthfinders. A question was discussed during conversation: What if we focused on our strengths, rather than tirelessly working on our weaknesses and seeing minimal improvement? The discussion from that point forward was robust and afforded all attendees the opportunity to embrace their individual strengths and work with others’ strong points as a counterpoint to things they may not be strong in. The dividends from this realization and encouragement from each other were a catalyst for new ideas and applications, both individually and collectively.
As the retreat progressed, leadership quotes were shared and discussed as a group. It was evident immediately that there was a great deal in common regarding each individual leadership style. Embracing each other’s strengths and teaming with someone who had strengths different than your own was empowering. Another key theme discovered by the group could best be summarized by a quote from John C. Maxwell: “Tend to the people and they’ll tend to the business.” In our current state of affairs, people remain the most important asset for any organization. Showing all stakeholders their value and offering opportunities for them to showcase their strengths is key to success in every capacity.
A final, quite motivating activity may best summarize the weekend. A timeline was placed on the wall of the conference room. On it were sheets of paper arranged in a timeline with key years noted, followed by a key event in the history of the area. Present on each sheet, as the years progressed to the present, business openings and stories of success were noted. On those same pages were years noting business closures, stories of hardship, and uncertain times. Throughout those years, the hardships were met with people stepping up and filling the gaps. From innovative inventions and projects, to leaders taking to the local neighborhoods to lend a helping hand, one constant remains: You can’t stop Wisconsin Rapids.
William “Oz” Oswald
Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools
2020-21 Heart of Wisconsin Community Leadership participant