The Kansas Leadership Center on Tuesday made a stop in Garden City, as part of its tour to meet with local residents who want to be a part of creating a different kind of leadership in the state.
Julia Fabris McBride, vice president of the KLC — which is based in Wichita — said she and other representatives from the KLC have traveled more than 3,600 miles across the state, and stopped in 20 communities as part of the tour.
“KLC has a mission to foster civic leadership for healthier, stronger, more prosperous, more livable communities. The kinds of communities we want our kids to grow up in, be educated in, and come back to and raise their kids,” Fabris McBride said during Tuesday’s tour stop, which was held at Central Cup Coffee. “What that looks like is, they are the types of communities where people are willing to hang in there when things get messy. That’s a lot about what we teach and coach and support people to do.”
During her presentation, Fabris McBride said there are four ingredients that people can use to create a culture of leadership in their organization or community.
The first ingredient is a small set of powerful ideas. Fabrise McBride said when the KLC was first created in 2007, the organization went around the state and asked individuals what concerns them the most about the future of Kansas, what are their aspirations, and what made progress so hard to achieve in the gap between concerns and aspirations.
“The answer was people were in that gap,” Fabris McBride said when recalling the process of creating the KLC. “ … the fourth question was, ‘What kind of leadership will it take to fill in that gap?’”
After asking the questions, responses were put on post-it notes and put up on a wall, categorized and discussed for a few years, which ultimately led to the creation of the KLC’s five principles and four competencies.
The five principles include: 1. Leadership is an activity, not a position; 2. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere; 3. It starts with you and you must engage others; 4. Your purpose must be clear; and 5. it’s risky.
“Leadership is an activity, not a position, and anyone can lead at any time,” Fabris McBride said. “ … that’s what got me involved (in KLC).”
The four competencies include: 1. Diagnose situations; 2. Manage self; 3. Energize others; and 4. Intervene skillfully.
“Figure out which one or two (competencies) would really make a difference if more people were doing that in your organization,” Fabris McBride said.
The second ingredient is a compelling way of conveying, teaching or sharing those ideas.
Sheila Rupp, who is in charge of human resources for Mosaic in Garden City, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s tour stop, said she is the type of person that can connect better with a person when person stories are given.
“At KLC, it’s essential that everyone who is teaching or coaching for us is also out in the world exercising leadership either in their company as an entrepreneur — as a volunteer, in their faith community — that they are generating those kind of experiences that can lead to stories,” Fabris McBride said.
Fabris McBride said another way to spread leadership is to care about what we are learning.
“At KLC, we create classroom situations, small group experiences, and one-on-one coaching,” Fabris McBride said. “It’s stretching both gut and mind, but never getting really far away from your real life experience. The stretch is for a purpose. The stretch is so that you are able to realize, ‘If I was willing to put up with this knot in my stomach at work and ask that tough question or raise my voice in a different way, we may make more progress.’”
The third and fourth ingredients, Fabris McBride said, is scale, meaning reaching people by the masses to engage in and spread leadership and a backbone organization that people can use to create a culture of leadership in their organization or community.
When Fabris McBride first became involved with KLC, she said KLC CEO Ed O’Malley said the entity would reach 1,000 people a year.
“I’ve never heard of anything that audacious,” Fabris McBride said, and I wanted on board with that.”
Currently, the KLC is reaching about 2,000 people a year, and strengthening its connections to local leadership programs through its community leadership program.
“For KLC right now, we think scale means thousands of people,” she said, adding that reaching people by the thousands can be done be partnering with various organizations, businesses and other entities.
During Tuesday’s tour stop, Fabris McBride said Finney County alone has nearly 200 KLC alums — people who participated in KLC leadership programs — adding that there are hundreds more from the area that have participated in Leadership Garden City, a local leadership group which has been involved with KLC for several years.
Vicki Harshbarger, with Mosaic who was also in attendance, said that there are several executive positions for various entities in Garden City whose occupants will soon retire.
“There’s this huge gap between the young professionals who are coming back home or moving into town to take those positions,” she said, adding that she thinks its important that the community invest in the next generation of leaders.
“It’s so vital and important…” she said. “… This area is very progressive and we need to keep that momentum, because once you lose it, its really hard to get the snowball rolling again.”
Those who want to get involved in leadership with the KLC can do so by participating in local leadership organizations, apply for leadership transformation grants or by getting involved with the KLC directly. Contact the KLC at (316) 712.4950.