Sunday, January 31, 2010

Leadership as a course

Last night we were out at the 7th annual Fire and Ice Gala for Leadership Waterloo Region.  The event is always one of the top events we attend and we look forward to going every year.  Earlier this year I had a discussion with two fellow graduates of the program and we talked about what we thought of LWR.  The comments were pretty consistent:

"The course didn't provide leadership development, it just exposed me to areas of the community I was alread familiar with"

"I was looking for ways to become a better leader, and it didn't give me that"

"The network was the true value of LWR, not really the courses"

Not the most positive comments regarding a program that I value personally and as a member of Waterloo region.  I hold this program near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons, but mostly because it has so much potential to take younger people and make them community leaders.  I agree with some of the comments above, as the course did not always develop leadership skills explicitely, but I think that the people who were making those comments forgot a few of the real leadership development skills that were developed.  For example, we had a great speaker come in and talk about Emotional Intelligence.  If a leader can understand, develop, and exploit the teachings of EI, then they can become a better leader in their business, at home, and in the community.  Another area which great leaders are able to is to understand their roles in different situations.  Sometimes it's important to mobilize, direct, and lead with a strong voice at the front of the line.  Sometimes it is equally important to lead quietly from the back of the line.  There were many chances at LWR to learn that skillset, although not always taught explicitly. 

So, does Leadership Waterloo Region do a great job in developing leaders?  I think they do an OK job, but not a great job.  LWR needs to better develop a value proposition to their candidates to draw the right people into the program.  It also needs to do a better job explaining what candidates will get out of the program.  You will get leadership development opportunities, but you are also going to have times where you will simply learn about your community and areas that need help.  Maybe that particular area doesn't motivate you, but it might inspire 5 others in the class to volunteer or lead in a new area.

My recommendations:

1.  Is to be much clearer on expectations to candidates on what they will get out of their experience.

2. Spend more time developing and improving leadership characteristics that candidates can apply at their day jobs

3. Continue to grow the power of the alumni. 

The last point is difficult to do but LWR and their alumni committee needs to keep trying.  For example, we were the only people there from the class of 2005.  Too bad.

For those that are interested in learning more about your community and developing leadership skills, consider looking into Leadership Waterloo Region (   If you set your expectations appropriately, and actively participate in the program, you will get tremendous value out of the experience.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Scary Dog Owner day

So, last night when I walked my beloved Blaze last night, she was herself.  Rolling in the snow, running, pulling, sniffing, etc.  Last night when we went to take her up to bed, she could hardly walk.  She wouldn't look at us in the eye, she looked 100 years old and in so much pain.  It breaks your heart to see your dog in pain.  They can't tell you why they are sore, where it hurts, but you just know they feel really bad.  Very analogous to having an 8 week old daughter! 

This morning when I got up to walk her, she was exactly the same.  Her back was hunched over, her right side looked sore, shaking, and she wasn't stable on her feet.  We went out for her walk and she was very slow.  A few times throughout the walk she would attempt to walk faster, and even run a bit.  That only lasted for seconds and then she was back to her slow, uncomfortable walk.  She didn't eat her breakfast and just looked terrible.

The other strange thing is that she wouldn't look us in the eye.  She hid in the corners behind chairs and stared at the wall.  So strange.  We booked the vet appointment for this afternoon and went to see what was wrong.  I lifted her up to get her in the car and she yelped because she was sore.  Once again, heartbreaking.  We finally got to the vet and the exam eliminated all the really scary stuff...she wasn't on her death bed thankfully.  Ultimately what we believe is that she has a pinched nerve in her back.  We got a prescription for anti-inflammatories and pain killers and we were back home.

Blaze still isn't eating and is very uncomfortable, but it is such a relief to know that she is going to be OK.  She's here, restricted to the main floor, short walks, and no stairs for the next 2 weeks.  Now there is a part of me that says it saves me an hour a day as I don't have to walk her, but I really do enjoy the walks.  Overall, it is very good news.

I wasn't ready to let her go.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Starting again....again!

It has been such a wild ride over the past 8 weeks.  I thought when I wasn't working full time I would have a lot of time to write, tweet, and generally get more out of social media.  Unfortunately it was the other way around.  Because I was at my computer all day and every day when I was working, I had the time and the awareness to write on it.  Blogging has never come naturally to me, but I have enjoyed it when I have done it regularly.

A number of readers (it's a small number) have been asking about the rental house we were trying to sell, and what ended up happening with it.  Well, my last post lambasted the jerk who was trying to buy my house and the real estate agent who didn't have the stones to stand up to his client.  Well, I am releaved to know that next Monday, the house will close and I won't have to worry about it anymore.  Selling your first house is always bitter sweet, and this one is just like that.  I loved that little old house when I bought it in 2004, and I still believe it has charm and character well beyond the houses that they build now.  Regardless of those sentimental thoughts, I will be happy to see the house go and the money in our account!

I am writing the next post shortly which will be all about the challenges I have in picking a next career.  It's the most difficult choice I have had in my life, and a very important one, so I am hoping that if I write about it, it will help clarify it. 

Thanks for reading.