The Leadership Lee’s Summit program was created by the Chamber in 1991 in an effort to provide development opportunities for future leaders in Lee’s Summit. Since then, the program has graduated more than 600 participants.

Leadership is a 9-month program beginning in September and ending with graduation in May. Approximately 25 participants are chosen based on their interest to serve Lee’s Summit and learn about the community, their leadership potential and also their willingness to commit to the program.

The program works to enhance leadership skills through personal development and also team-building and group exercises. By strengthening our leaders, we’re building a better future for both the Lee’s Summit community, as well as our businesses.

The class of 2021 is well underway and has endured a first ever hybrid approach to the program due to the Covid Pandemic. While this year has looked different in a lot of ways, the class is still participating in group exercises and one group teamed up with local non-profit, Pro Deo Youth Center, for a professional development workshop on March 22.

Group members included Heather Austin of Country Club Bank, Thad Dearman of Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport, Sierra McMurray of Summit Strength Physical Therapy, LLC., Justin Moore with Central Bank of the Midwest-291 Hwy, Hilary Tichota of Paths Elder Law, and Clarinda Dir with University of Central Missouri Lee’s Summit (UCM).

Clarinda Dir who works as a Program Manager at UCM, working specifically on workforce development and finding new employees for local businesses was instrumental in pulling this workshop together.

Topics for the workshop ranged from resume development, interview skills, professional dress, social media best practices and touched on soft skills like leadership, critical thinking and working within a team.
Resumes, for example, can be challenging at the high school level due to a lack of experience, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other things to be added. Volunteer work, relevant high school course work, certifications and leadership roles are all valid items to add to a resume.

Pro Deo students practice team work through a team building exercise.

Students were lead through exercises designed to develop good interview skills such as how to answer questions professionally and practiced behavior based interview questions. Students practiced answers for common questions, such as “So, tell me about yourself,” as well as guided students through best practices for interview preparation and follow up.

Something Dir often recommends to students is that once your interview is set, pick out your interview outfit. You don’t want to wait until last minute to plan what you are going to wear. Also, beware of the perfume and cologne! The last thing you want is for an interviewer to remember you for how you smelled!

In addition to one’s professional development, there are many soft skills that can help you stand out among candidates. The workshop training covered topics such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, responsibility, decisiveness, teamwork, time management, self-motivation and conflict resolution.

Students dove into the soft skill of critical thinking and learning to lean into issues using the “Five W’s” approach. Critical thinkers ask the questions who, what, when, where and why when they are faced with problems on the job. Asking these questions allows you to gather information to make an informed decision and solve problems.

Students were also lead through a DISC-styled personality assessment titled “The Animal in You Personality Test.” Through this fun and interactive activity students gained insight to their own work temperaments, explored the personalities of others, learned how to communicate with different people and practiced strategies for working as a team.

Dir had this to say in preparation of the event, “Preparing students to enter the workforce is so important, because employers are looking for work ready hires. It is our goal to prepare students for different work environments, teach them behavior based interviewing skills and cover how to work within a team made up of varying personality types.”