Commit to Lead Day 2016

By Dan Malay, Project Manager, SUNY Upstate Medical University – This year marked the first day that an LGS class participated in a “Commit to Lead” day.  While saddened that it was our last day, the Design Team quickly realized that we needed to emphasize the incredible tools we’ve been given this year.   A class day slogan of “Building a Leader – What’s in your toolbox?” served as a fitting theme to close out our experience!

The Skyline Lodge at Highland Forest served as our venue, a setting similar to our initial retreat at the White Eagle Lodge in Hamilton.  A heavy fog enveloped the building on class day, as people arrived to a delicious breakfast courtesy of Excellus.  After Pam opened the day with announcements, we had the honor of listening to a message about leadership and commitment from our class day sponsor, Dave Nutting, Chairman and CEO of VIP Structures.

Many people were tired to begin the day, having stayed up late watching the results of our 45th Presidential Election, which had ended just a few hours earlier. The Design Team had anticipated some stress and anxiety regardless of the election result, so Dan and Mel were prepared with a funny skit about Mel’s consideration of moving to Canada!  It lightened the mood and we kicked off the day’s content.  The design team introduced our concept of “What’s in your toolbox?” by each taking a few moments to present various tools from a toolbox, and their meaning to us as leaders.

Cynthia Sarandis, a member of Time Warner Cable’s Leadership Development group, facilitated a great session on assessing our core values.  Through a series of simple personal assessment exercises that defined our core values, each person created their own mission statement. We also heard of a wonderful analogy from Stephen Covey called, “The Big Rocks of Life,” that reinforced how important it is to focus on our core values first.

Next up were Lisa Baker and Melissa O’Mara from The Leaders Co-Lab.  Using a simple concept entitled, “The Bigger Game,” they got the class up and moving (literally!), and actively engaged in a team discussion.  We soon realized that we play “bigger games” frequently, and that self-assessment and recognition of this game and its components can help us define our path forward.  The Bigger Game concept is simple to understand, adaptable, and can relate to our personal and professional lives. Interestingly, the class was evenly divided amongst the different stages outlined in the bigger game, and we had a great discussion about what it means to be at different points in our lives.

After a delicious lunch, Lisa and Melissa continued, now focusing on defining our hunger!  By providing several simple tools to engage others- like “Proud Moments,” “Three Lenses,” and a simple 1:1 interview, we learned how to tease out our areas of hunger, and then understand how hunger and comfort are such key components of sustained development and happiness.

Following the conclusion of The Leaders Co-Lab sessions, we transitioned to a fantastic panel discussion related to boardsmanship.  The panel was facilitated by Sheena Soloman from the Gifford Foundation, and included Susan Burgess, Kristy Frame, Ron Lombard, and Anne Messenger.  The panelists were amongst the most candid we had all year, and the session included information related to the legal aspects of boardsmanship, life cycles of boards, and many stories of personal experience that helps class members have the right tools available as many consider boardmanship as a post-LGS goal. Did you ever know how critically important it is to ask about Directors and Officers insurance, review the by-laws, and speak to current board members as you consider joining a board?

Finally, Pam closed the day with a fast-paced session on the myriad of tools we’ve acquired throughout the year.  She reviewed and distributed information about local and national resources available to continue our journey, and reiterated that we now have an obligation to contribute!  The experience of Leadership Greater Syracuse is a huge step towards becoming better leaders, citizens, and advocates for our communities, but it’s only a step.  As LGS alumni, we must seize opportunities to contribute, using the tools in our LGS toolbox!

A Toast to the Class of 2016

As we gather today for our last adventure, raise your glass for our final class quencher.

We began our journey back in January, where strangers turned friends named Carrie and Mary.

We were introduced to the big yellow fellow as he rapped about potatoes so smooth and mellow

We’ve been to the roof of our Media Group Center….Gigi’s, the Food Bank and Samaritan Center.

We followed Aaron in Flight as he fell from great heights all while viewing the CNY sights

Our eyes were opened at the Em-Stat Center; memories you may not want to remember

We helped out at the Mission, and took our nutrition; could this be the place of your burning ambition?

Chol and the lost boys stirred our emotions with his travel across the Atlantic Ocean.

We got quite the show at the lounge called Rain with drumming and dancing and a glass of champagne

The Justice Center, Court house and the roads we have traveled, led us to Judge Karalunas’ gavel