Colorado Mountain College leadership students hosted a panel discussion on Sept. 25 to showcase the many different styles of leadership within the community.
Speakers were Mayor Greg Labbe; Wendy Wyman, Lake County superintendent of schools; Rachel Pokrandt, Colorado Mountain College vice president and campus dean; Kira Minehart, assistant professor at CMC; and John McMurtry, executive director of the Leadville Community Fund.
Guiding the discussion was Ski Area Operations student Brenden Gleason.
Each panelist was asked about role models that influenced their path to leadership, and while Wyman, Minehart and McMurtry all gave a list of childhood mentors, Labbe and Pokrandt had different approaches. Pokrandt mentioned how she is drawn to people who challenge others to grow. She believes that role models are “constantly evolving” day to day.
Contrary to Pokrandt’s statement, Labbe expressed how in his beginnings it was very much “winging it” as opposed to having a plan for the future or following in others’ footsteps.
Panelsist were also asked their opinion on the value of compassion in the workplace
Everyone agreed that compassion allows good ideas to circulate and adds support to any team. However, it was also mentioned that spending too much time focused on kindness and compassion will have a negative effect on work quality and efficiency.
Compassion can sometimes show itself in forms of constructive criticism. When it’s intended to help individuals or a group improve, criticism is necessary. “Withholding constructive criticism is not kindness” said Pokrandt. The overall consensus was that compassion is essential, but it should not take priority over work.
Social media has become a central part of our lives and cannot be avoided, even in the workplace. Panelists were asked if they support having a presence on social media, professional of otherwise.
McMurtry stated how he “doesn’t tweet ... yet, in fundraising you have to create awareness.” This awareness can come from person to person, but social media allows businesses and corporations to reach a larger amount of people in a shorter amount of time.
Minehart pointed out that as valuable as social media may be, “we are losing our intrapersonal connection by spending so much time on our screens.” Social media can be useful in the workplace, but leaders have to keep in mind that they are branding themselves online. Even online actions have consequences.
The final question participants were asked is: What kind of leader are you? Labbe began by pointing out that you must first differentiate between leadership and authority. “Authority is not leadership,’’ he described, “It’s management.” Labbe strives to be a leader who empowers people to excel.
Wyman describes herself as a democratic leader. She believes that everyone should have input so that “everyone has a chance to discover their best selves.”
Minehart finds that the best leaders are the ones you would want on your team if something goes wrong. Her style of leadership comes from leading by example.
“There is a style for every situation,’’ said Pokrandt. “Trusting the people you work with is important”. Pokrandt acknowledged that there is a time and place for every kind of leadership, and there is also a time when being a follower is a strength.