As a first year Fellow attending Leadership Plenty, I was overjoyed to be in a room with established leaders in the Colorado Springs area. Organized through the El Pomar Emerging Leader Development (ELD) program, Leadership Plenty was an opportunity for both young and seasoned professionals to engage in leadership training. Led by Matt Carpenter and Kate Deeny, ELD participants joined the first year El Pomar Fellows for discussion, professional development, and networking.
As a recent college graduate, all of my leadership experiences had been in some way attached to academics. I could lead my organization through a chapter meeting, or determine the challenges of a team project, but diving into the real-world leadership scenarios was a new experience for me and I was eager to learn. By the end of the training my perspective on challenges and an emphasis on resources, assets and my personal experiences became increasingly important. Additionally, the most surprising element was the melting pot of participants creating a vibrant atmosphere for leadership development.
It was awe-inspiring to see multiple generations sharing, learning, and growing with each other in one space. ELD participants saw hope, optimism and a fresh perspective with the Fellows; while we, as Fellows gained perspective on the foundations of leadership and gathered wisdom from ELD members who were once in our shoes and can provide advice and mentorship.
One of the significant takeaways from Leadership Plenty was the ‘assets vs. deficits’ approach. This topic illustrated that we need to identify assets, not deficits, when looking at any situation. Our society is programmed to hone in on challenges when faced with a problem; however, the most efficient and beneficial way to approach an issue is to identify and leverage the assets and resources that are already afforded to you.
For example, on a macro level, if an organization or community wants to solve the problem of delinquency in middle school kids, it should not look first at the rates of crime, lack of parent involvement, or poor school education. Instead, the community should look at its assets, focusing on existing mentorship opportunities, after school programs and strong educational potential. On a micro level, it is essential to pin-point what each person on the team brings to the table and how every person connected to the challenge can be used effectively to find a solution.
The ‘asset vs. deficit’ conversation brought a tangible wave of realization and clarity to our class. Many of the Leadership Plenty participants, including myself, tend to focus solely on deficits instead of assessing the good in all aspects of a community and looking inward to find solutions. I was amazed to realize that for most of my life I was acting within a deficit framework when dealing with problems. Within the first day of Leadership Plenty, my way of thinking shifted entirely.
Leadership Plenty opened my perspective on leadership and allowed me to grow professionally over two days of intensive training. The lessons learned from the curriculum are applicable to every day encounters and affected each participant respectively. When it was all said and done this two-day leadership training became a life-long learning experience.