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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Leadership in action

I've probably mentioned here a few times that I was speaking at the SPJ Ted Scripps Leadership Conference in Indianapolis this past weekend. Last year I was a participant in this training, generously funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation .

There is nothing quite so invigorating and energizing as watching a group of dynamic individuals come together for a shared experience. As I explained during my sessions (and to individuals), the Scripps training changed the course of my professional life, giving me courage and the will to pursue paths I might not have chosen for myself. In fact, I learned a great deal about myself and the skills I possess through that training.

This year I came back as a presenter. I participated in the annual SPJ-Sigma Delta Chi initiation ceremony, sharing what SPJ has meant to me and, along with my fellow cohorts, leading the group in the Sigma Delti Chi song "In Sigma Delta Chi, our ink is never dry." And I co-facilitated great discussions on chapter management and event planning.

I enjoyed watching this particular group of leaders, from as far away as Alaska, evolve into an energized, engaged band of leaders, all ready to take SPJ into the future. They arrived in Indianapolis on Friday somewhat timid and hesitant. After a few icebreaker activities, they start to loosen up. And following the initiation ceremony and an evening of duckpin bowling (and open bar!), they become fast friends. By the time my session arrived on Saturday night, they had their personality profiles done and had really emerged as leaders. And when it was time to leave on Sunday, there were many hugs and promises to stay in touch.

I'm a firm believer that leadership must be nurtured and I think proof of that is found in the attendees of this conference. The Scripps Howard Foundation has changed the course of many people's professional lives over the years it has funded this extraordinary training. I would encourage anyone, no matter what your profession, to seek out such incredible opportunities. Commit yourself to a weekend of stretching your abilities.

I'm certain this latest group of SPJ leaders returns home to spread the word in their own chapters. And I look forward to seeing their growing participation. And I hope to stop in at their reunion get-together at the national convention in New York City in September.

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