Editor’s note: As a Leadership Development Academy alum (Class of 2013-14), Linda Ross is passionate about the mission of the organization and enjoys working as Executive Director/Program Facilitator. Wisdom acquired at LDA empowers her to continue her success in business. She is excited to work with others to obtain their leadership goals.
The Leadership Development Academy Starts 2016 Strong!
I have always told my boys to choose a job they love and they will never work a day in their lives. I believe I have found my calling at the Leadership Development Academy of Rock County.
Beginning our 14th year, the Leadership Development Academy’s class is the largest yet, with 28 participants from various places in Rock County. They are bank managers, principals, police officers, an Ironman competitor, accountants and an attorney. You will also find a fire chief, administrative assistants, managers, directors, account executives, a Beloit Bombshell roller derby star and more.
What do they all have in common? Making Rock County a better place to be and growing in their leadership journey. Sounds like worthy goals to me!
Going through the program four years ago myself, I found it to be extremely valuable, meeting several in my class who I now call friends. A high ropes course and team project will bond you like nothing else!
The first session met at Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus. Participants were taught Real Colors and Real Colors Teams by Dr Helen Proeber, Associate Dean of Blackhawk Technical College. Helen is also a Leadership Development Academy board member. I don’t think I have ever been involved with a class who has been so comfortable with their classmates right off the bat and who laugh so much with each other. They are a lively bunch!
Real Colors is a workshop to help people understand, recognize, accept and value differences in others. Understanding themselves, participants learn how to communicate and work with others. Effective and appropriate interactions result when this is happening.
Color categories are used to break individuals into groups:
- Orange (troubleshooter, spontaneous, witty, competitive, courageous, wild and crazy)
- Blue (peaceful, sincere, spiritual, caring, sensitive, patient, compassionate and empathetic)
- Gold (practical, organized, stable, punctual, hard-working, predictable and reliable)
- Green (complex, curious, independent, intellectual, research-oriented, logical, analytical and calm)
Everyone has a bit of each color, but most people fall into one distinct category. Heavy on the Orange, with a great deal of Blue and Gold, I found I have very little Green in me. Therefore, through Real Colors, I have grown to appreciate all my Green friends, because I can finally see and understand where they are coming from.
During the afternoon, participants in the Leadership Development Academy were broken into color groups to form project teams to be used throughout the year. Thankfully there were five oranges and we were having five project teams. Strong Oranges tend to butt heads with each other when on the same team.
Several of the participants were two and three-steppers, dominant in more than one color, making them have more balance when dealing with others. This made my job easier when selecting participants for each color group.
Blackhawk Technical College
Our day wasn’t over after Real Colors. Stephanie Williams, a Leadership Development Academy alum, lead us on a tour of Blackhawk Technical College. If you have not been through the impressive Central Campus, you need to take a tour.
Highlighting the tour was the new Health Sciences wing. The mannequins are kind-of creepy, but simulate real people with emergency medical issues. Most noteworthy is a 3-D dissection table, which was like a modern day Operation Game. Truly state-of-the-art! We are fortunate to have such an outstanding technical college in our area.
OWLS (Outdoor Wisconsin Leadership School)
Day two was a real stretch for some of the class … literally. Excitement and nervousness was shown by the Leadership Development Academy participants, because of the challenge of the Ropes Course at OWLS on Lake Geneva. OWLS stands for Outdoor Wisconsin Leadership School.
Introductory icebreakers and activities took place in the morning to build trust in each other. The feature so many were talking about, the high ropes course, took place in the afternoon.
The class of 20 women and 8 men, of various ages, sizes and physical abilities, made the high ropes course more interesting and challenging. It was fun to stand back and watch everyone working to succeed and cheering like knew each other for years.
Green members of the teams had to work hard to let others into their bubbles. Orange members had to quiet themselves and let others help make decisions. Blue members were in their element with all the personal contact. Gold members were stable, reliable and hardworking. As a result, everyone was able to laugh at themselves and with others throughout the day.
Personal Fears to Conquer
Each person had their own personal fears to conquer. One’s person’s challenge was to get up the Firecracker and maneuver around most of the elements on the high ropes course. Another was to head up the Ewok Bridge and zip-line down.
Picking up on the fact that each person is different, cheering was unique and beautiful, without discussion. My heart was warm hearing them encouraging and clapping for others.
The Leadership Development Academy is starting strong this year. I believe great things will happen in Rock County from this group. New friendships will be formed, while working on their team projects, developing leadership skills and growing into the individuals they were called to be. This, my friends, is why I love my job!