Leadership class kicks off ‘servant’ training

Marion County should have several more “servant leaders” working in its communities come this June, when the eight members of the 2006 Leadership Marion County class will graduate from the semester-long program.

The class held its first half-day session Thursday on Hillsboro’s Tabor College campus, an appropriate setting for the adult students who hope to strengthen leadership skills while learning more about the county they call home.

In its 17th year, the program’s emphasis is servant leadership, which LMC president Jim Elliott defines as “bottom-up leadership” that empowers citizens to do the work needed for their community to thrive.

“Servant leadership is putting others ahead of ourselves,” said Elliott, who also serves as Tabor’s vice president for advancement.

“In each session, we’ll focus on a different leadership capacity, but all the other capacities build on servant leadership.”

Class sessions are from 8 a.m. to 1 pm. every other Thursday through May 25, followed by a graduation ceremony June 5.

The setup is different from the full-day classes of previous years, as a result of feedback from last year’s class, Elliott said.

“They felt that a half-day format would be more conducive for employers, as well as for students,” he said. “So this year we’re changing the format.”

Because building awareness of the various communities is key to the LMC program, each session will be held in a different part of the county, Elliott said.

“We get to most places throughout the county in the course of the sessions,” he said. “On our lunches, we’ll be inviting members of that community to come in and talk to class members and acquaint them with the community.”

Next week’s session is set to be held in Ramona, he added.

Two of the 10 sessions will be all day long, one in March to visit Topeka and another in May to take an extended tour of the county.

The other class sessions will follow the program’s outlined curriculum, which includes study of learning styles, steps to a performing community, the wisdom cycle, vision, collaboration, consensus, facilitation and personal mission.

Last week’s session introduced class members to the concept of servant leadership and helped them identify their own personal learning, working and thinking styles, Elliott said.

“I think that class session went very well,” he said.

Members of this year’s class are James Philpott of Peabody, police officer with Peabody Police Dept.; Tracy Williams of Hillsboro, branch manager of Rodgers & Assoc. Insurance; Eric Driggers of Hillsboro, doctor of pharmacy at Greenhaw Pharmacy; Karen Larsen of Peabody, an employee of Marion County Emergency Medical Services; David Baker of Hillsboro, account manager at Baker Bros. Printing; Jason Mohn of Hillsboro, director of church relations at Tabor College; Paula Flaming of Goessel, assistant city clerk; and Jill Meier of Lehigh, parts/retail coordinator at Deer Trail Implement Inc.

Each class session is facilitated by a different member of the 2006 LMC board of directors.

In addition to Elliott, board members include vice president Tina Groening of Marion, secretary Elise Brunhoeber of Burns, Sarah Cope of Florence, Carolyn Koehn of Burns, Byron Noeth of Tampa, Jackie Rice of Marion, Rickey Roberts of Hillsboro and Darryl Thiesen of Goessel.

Former president Joanna Brazil now serves as the liaison between LMC and the Marion County Economic Development Council.

Elliott said such a relationship is beneficial because the LMC program has indirect economic development potential as well.

“We’re equipping people who are already living here, serving here and are hopefully going to have an impact in our communities,” he said.

Class members will have the opportunity to do so immediately through a class project funded by a $1,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.

“Over the course of the class, they’ll work together in deciding on a project,” Elliott said. “The only stipulation is it has to relate to families or youth in our county.”

Time will be allotted in class sessions to work on the project, but additional time outside class will most likely be needed.

Last year’s project was a Family Fun Day at the Marion Reservoir.

The goal is to empower class members to serve both in and beyond their own places of work in the community, Elliott said.

“Class members can then get involved in our communities from a volunteer standpoint,” he said. “Volunteerism is critical for communities in Marion County to thrive.”

But overall, LMC’s mission is not only to help leaders to serve individual communities but to unify the larger community of Marion County as well.

“We see this as a great way of bringing communities together,” Elliott said. “I think it’s one of the few organizations in our county that strives to do that well.”

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