Leaders Should Never End Their Quest for Knowledge

Scott Holstein

In our world there are people who lead and those who take direction from leadership. Both groups are valuable and needed to create maximum results. In a well-run business, strong leadership with a strong team of individuals who follow and execute the requests of leadership can result in an accomplished company that enjoys success. A strong leader and a team of managers working in unison is a beautiful thing to watch and to be a part of. 

Sure, one can learn the principals of leadership from books and mentoring, but nothing compares to experience, learning by trial and error, and listening and learning from others who have amassed major accomplishments. 

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) recently invested in becoming a sponsor site for Chick-fil-A’s annual Leadercast program. This is a one-day event that brings together some of the most successful leaders and brilliant minds on one stage so they can share their thoughts on and experience with leadership.

When I heard about this, I didn’t hesitate to block off the day to attend with a colleague and became a note-taking student. 

Chick-fil-A filled the Georgia Dome that Friday in May with amazing corporate horsepower. The event was simulcast to 750 sponsored locations around the world (including Tallahassee), reaching more than 120,000 individuals who were seeking the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to become smarter, well-rounded leaders. 

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski related how he accomplished the major feat of taking the individual talents and egos of a group of NBA stars and molding them into a gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team. Corporate icon/author Jack Welch spent 70 percent of his corporate CEO life as a mentor to his management team and spoke of how and why leaders need to constantly prune their corporate rose bush of employees. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained how she personally managed her time and mind doing one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the world today. 

Greeting guests that day were TCC’s president Jim Murdaugh, Robin Johnston, vice president for Institutional Advancement and TCC’s Foundation director, and Kimberly Moore, vice president of Workforce Development  — the driving forces behind bringing this day to Tallahassee. They are strong, visionary leaders for Tallahassee Community College and are committed to bringing this type of ongoing learning resource to our area for those seeking to learn about or fine-tune their leadership skill sets. 

To have an opportunity to hear any one of these leaders would cost a considerable amount of time and expense. Yet on this day, for around a hundred dollars, one could sit back and listen to eight interviews/presentations from accomplished, high-profile leaders. 

But it wasn’t all classroom work. The emcee, Tripp Crosby, had a quick and self-deprecating wit and provided several short and light-hearted entertaining breaks in the action. There was also a three-course catered lunch, snacks and gift portfolio. And to top it all off, everyone’s car was meticulously washed while they attended the event. That was the best hundred dollars I’ve spent in the past year, hands down. 

In this letter, it is difficult to express exactly all I learned. I wrote about 10 pages of notes and a week later took an afternoon to condense them into four categories of learning. This summer I plan to share what I learned with my management team and then break the staff into teams so each individual can learn the principals I took away from this event. I want to take these lessons full circle to help my most valued asset — the staff of Rowland Publishing. 

Sadly, one observation I made that day was that just a relatively small group of Tallahassee senior leadership attended. Were they too busy? Do they feel there is no room for them to learn from people who will likely forget more about leadership than most will ever know?

As Tallahassee embarks on its journey to the next level, through Imagine Tallahassee, I can only urge the community’s leadership in the private, public and political sectors to never forget to seek more knowledge. It will bring you, your staff and whatever you lead closer to maximum success. 

Count me in for six tickets next year, plus the sponsorship of Tallahassee and EC magazines. If you are interested in being notified of next year’s Chick-fil-A Leadercast date, just send me an email, and it will be done. 

This will be the best investment you make in yourself and your company in 2014 — I promise.

Brian Rowland

Categories: Opinion