Maybe I am dating myself. And yes, I admit to overuse of an oft-quoted Bob Dylan song lyric as an entry to a blog/article. But as a near life-long resident of northeast Ohio (minus six years during college and in my early 20s) I have noticed more change in the last five years than I have seen in a long time.
Something just “feels” different. I can’t put my finger on it, but there seems to be a positive energy cast over the region – an aura that signals some really great things are on the horizon.
I see increased collaboration, new ideas, faster project iteration, a focus on innovation, and even investments in technology and programs that aren’t quite the norm or a guaranteed slam dunk. There are changes in leadership at many levels. Young people are being given a chance to head up organizations and projects, and even though there is still a gender gap, increased opportunities supporting women are emerging.
Leadership Akron’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI) collaboration with Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio is one such emerging opportunity.
I was fortunate to be selected for the CLI Class II, which completed its three-month program in early May. I didn’t know what to expect when the program started, but I knew the content would be valuable since both organizations have a reputation for delivering high-quality programs.
I was certainly not disappointed, but was surprised by how much more I took away from the program than I anticipated. As a CEO, I am constantly looking for ways to do things better for clients and staff. The CLI gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in something that will help me improve and grow personally as well as professionally.
- I met people who inspired me and that I likely wouldn’t have met otherwise.
- I learned to embrace the energy and knowledge from our group discussions.
- I enjoyed that no one talked about how to communicate with a specific age group – baby boomers, Generation Xers or millennials. What we did talk about was how to harness our own strengths and understand the strengths of others to build a better workplace.
- I made new friends and business connections that will be invaluable.
- I joined 25 other women in looking for ways to create change in our workplaces and our community.
While heading up my own company and a household with three busy teenagers, I must work to be a good leader and role model. I’m not perfect by any means and I have certainly made mistakes. But I am willing to learn. I think women need programs like CLI to make it easier to gain leadership skills. CLI gave us a “safe zone” where we could be a little vulnerable and honest, while speaking about real issues without being judged.
I am a firm believer that being better requires change, whether it is changing leaders, a habit, an attitude or process. And I truly believe times ARE changing here in northeast Ohio, definitely for the better. And I love it.