Did you know that Leadership Lakeland is accepting nominations for the next class? Â The Leadership Lakeland program has been in existence for 26 years through the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce.
Why would anyone invest their time and energy in such a program?Â Â Why would any company pay for their employees to participate in such a program?Â The people who can give you the best answers to those questions are the graduates themselves.Â
One graduate I spoke to at this yearâ€™s Tiger BBQ, Fred Lopez (Allen & Company), said that it was the best thing he has ever done.Â Â He added that the deep meaningful relationships that he shares with his classmates is something he doesnâ€™t think he could have achieved anywhere elseâ€¦.particularly the diverse friends that he met through his class.Â Â
So, what does building meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people have to do with leadership, you might ask.Â Â Â Â I answer:Â Everything.Â Â Â
At the foundation of leadership is trust.Â The less trust that exists, the less leadership is effective.Â When leadership is not effective, productivity suffers.Â Â Thatâ€™s what happens in the workplace, in the community, and in every other group you could list â€“ including family.
Another graduate, Jim Rhodes (Publix), told me that until he went through the program, he THOUGHT he was knowledgeable about the communityÂ because he had grown up in Lakeland.Â Â It was after he graduated that he realized that he was wrong.Â It was after the program that he became fully connected to the community and became involved at a level that is exhausting to even list.Â Â He says that the Leadership Lakeland experience changed his life.Â He is a volunteer â€“ extraordinaire!
Shawn McDonough (Exity Realty Lakeland), a current class member, told me last week that any day that is not a Leadership Lakeland day is boring by contrast,Â and he is already dreading the end of the year and graduation.Â Â
Last week I met with a representative from a company who has locations in 3 areas of Florida â€“ one of them is in Lakeland at Lakeside Village.Â Â We talked about â€˜sense of communityâ€™.Â Â It is palpable in Lakeland and it is not in the other cities she has store fronts.
Many of us experience that â€˜sense of communityâ€™ and I believe that the Leadership Lakeland program has contributed to that community spirit.Â Â Thatâ€™s what Leadership Lakeland is all about â€“ bringing 30 people together â€“ people of diverse backgrounds â€“ people who have already demonstrated a commitment to Lakeland â€“ to spend a year together.Â During the year they learn more about themselves, their classmates an the community.Â Â Â
At the end of the year, they are more connected and engaged in sustaining Lakeland as a Community of Choice.Â Â They take the experiences and the knowledge they acquired through the year and apply it throughout their entire sphere of influence.Â Â And just to extend the experience, the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association is available to broaden the circle even wider.
This is important:Â Â
Step 1:Â Â The nomination form,Â additional information can be found here. The deadline for receiving nominations is April 9. Â You can nominate anyone â€“ even yourself. Â Â Nomination forms will also be available in the March issue of the Chamberâ€™s newsletter.
Step 2:Â All who are nominated are sent application instructions.Â Â The selection process is completed by the end of June.Â Â The dates for the next class are posted on the nomination form and the website and our attendance requirements are very firm.
The selection of 30 class members is strategic.Â We want to be able to maximize the experience and develop an esprit de corps among the class members.