Courage, Confidence, and Camaraderie - Three Leadership Academy Graduates' Reflections on Their Year of Growth
Check out our executive director, Hamsa Daher's reflections of the growth and learning of Leadership Academy Class of 2023 graduates.
As we gear up for year six of the Small Giants Leadership Academy, we take some time to reflect on this journey and what it has meant for the participants, the Community overall, and our own team.
For the participants, the impact comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. For some, it has meant overcoming imposter syndrome. For others, they have gained confidence and have become even more self-aware. For many more, this program has opened new opportunities, positions, and allowed them to take on new departments, teams, projects - and in a few cases even the CEO role itself! And for all, they have learned and practiced what it means to live in alignment with purpose, vision, and values, allowing them to lead teams in a caring, compassionate, and trusting way! Most importantly, they have made friendships with cohort mates and buddies - many that will last a lifetime.
Why Emerging Leaders?
Courage to Make Change
It was March 21, 2022 right around 11am when we got on Zoom to chat with Kricket Tribe. Kricket is the Controller of a construction management company in British Columbia. Kricket was referred to us by her President who graduated from the Leadership Academy and felt that she could also benefit from the experience.
Kricket jumped on Zoom…reluctantly. She was nice and heard us out as we explained what Small Giants is and what the Leadership Academy is all about. We could sense that Kricket was not completely convinced but then she shared openly and honestly that she works with numbers and loves her animals….it’s people she's more skeptical about! At this point, I had to share frankly that this program could either transform Kricket or push her towards her furry friends even more…and what a transformation it was!
Kricket jumped all in. She showed up each month and openly shared her experiences within her organization, how they were doing, and what challenges they were facing. She engaged with the activities and her buddy - developing a wonderful relationship! Days before the graduation trip, Kricket was contemplating leaving her company, even after a 12 year run. She was feeling quite frustrated with the recent misalignment with values & culture. But she boarded the plane and hoped for the best! Kricket arrived - and I could see the excitement and hope (and some residual reluctancy), though very different from when we first met her. Kricket altered her final presentation and did an impromptu talk with lots of openness, honesty, energy, hope, and courage to say that she’ll not only stay at her organization but be the change maker - the force that will get it back on track. And we can’t wait to continue supporting her through this journey!
Every Interaction has Impact
New Learnings and Friendships
Alissa Sharp joined the Leadership Academy because her CEO recommended her for the program. Alissa was new to Small Giants - didn’t really know anything about the Community, but she was excited to learn and grow. We could share about her learnings and transformation - but it’s told way better by Alissa herself:
I hadn’t heard anything about the [Small Giants] organization at all, so I was coming in completely fresh and green. I was a little apprehensive because as I was learning about who the other members of my Academy class were, I realized that they were all on the “business” side of things, I was like “oh my gosh, I don’t belong here. IMPOSTER SYNDROME.” And those feelings so quickly got squished as I found my place in Small Giants.
Every month we get the opportunity to learn about something new. From Hiring and Firing, to Inclusion, to Mental Health and Wellness – we talk about everything a person experiences at work. And every month I walk away having learned something new, something that I can take back and implement in my own company. Am I able to make large scale changes? Not always, but even by changing myself I can change others. You get to bring your own experiences and troubles to the table and as a group we have the opportunity to work through them. And it’s so nice to hear that everyone has a lot of the same problems.
I’ve made some amazing friendships. You get matched with a buddy who you meet with once a month to discuss the monthly learning and to be a sounding board about what’s going on with yourself, both personal and business. Halfway through, you change buddies. In fact, me and my first buddy are still in contact monthly. And of course, being able to meet everyone at the in-person Summit was incredible!
The class can get tough. Not necessarily the subject itself, but you have to be willing to be open and honest and vulnerable. And there have been a few classes (the in-person one in particular) that can get emotional. The program takes a few hours a month, between the pre-work and the class calls, but it’s never been overwhelming.
I’m not sure that I could say enough about how awesome this program is. Honestly, I would send everyone through it if I could.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
When we met Graham MacDonald he was all smiles! He was kind, gentle and self aware. Though he was struggling a bit with imposter syndrome. We could tell that he was ready for the challenge. Graham was in a sales position at SONA at the start of the Leadership Academy. As he neared the end of the program, and through his learning, Graham earned himself a Director of Partnerships position - a newly created position just for him. And while he felt great about this promotion, he found himself struggling now that he was leading his peers instead of working alongside them. As he continued to develop confidence and overcome his imposter syndrome, Graham took the “virtual” stage and shared this difficult challenge he was experiencing openly and vulnerably with the rest of his cohort through a format called Think Tank. Graham took all the advice and guidance shared by his cohort mates and brought it back to his organization - reflecting on his new position. And while he was shy and timid when he started, Graham presented his learnings and takeaways while in Dallas at graduation, having gained great confidence and courage along the way.
Up Your Game as a Leader
For the Small Giants Community, this program has opened an opportunity to train next gen leaders as whole individuals, teaching them the Small Giants philosophy in the most comprehensive, yet practical way. They bring this learning back to their organizations, sharing it with their teams - challenging the status quo and/or confirming that they’re on the right track! In many cases, Small Giants companies use the Leadership Academy as the training ground for their next gen leaders and as a way to build their bench and plan for thoughtful and mindful successions.
For our small but mighty team, it has meant that we get to use our purpose and passion and we get to put that to work every single day! We are fortunate enough to get to meet incredible humans who want to learn, grow, and impact their teams, organizations, and communities at large. These people have a few things in common - they’re open, honest, self-aware, kind, caring - and they’re life-long learners. We couldn’t be more proud.