Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the United States Junior Chamber Leadership Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This training conference has been hosted every January since 1999, and is designed for current and future leaders of local, state and national JCI chapters in the US.
Luckily for me, the US Jaycees (aka US JCI or Junior Chamber) extended an invitation for two chapter Presidents from JCI Canada to join the Academy, and so I joined Kelly Faubert, President of the Winnipeg chapter, in Tulsa. The US Jaycee Foundation was generous enough to sponsor the Academy, and to provide partial sponsorship of my attendance.
The Academy is filled with 2 and a half days of training workshops, US Jaycee board meetings and ceremonies, and lots of time to have fun and get to know JCI members from other chapters. There were about 170 people in attendance, most from a wide variety of different states, chapters, and having different experiences and perspectives.
Following an early morning in Calgary to catch a flight to Tulsa via Denver, I arrived late in the afternoon and got to the hotel after dark. I got settled, grabbed dinner at a Panera Bread down the street (which was fantastic – Panera may be one of my new favourite fast food joints in the US) and headed in for the first session of the Academy – Breaking the Ice!
Breaking the Ice was all about – well, perhaps you’ve guessed it – icebreaker games. Suzette Plaisted, a JCI International Training Fellow (ITF #85), facilitated our participation in a whole bunch of icebreaker games, conversations and challenges. Not only did this help everyone get to know each other a little better, but it gave some great ideas for icebreaker and team-building activities to use with our own boards and chapters!
The icebreakers were followed by an opening ceremony and scavenger hunt game that went late in to the evening. All in all, a great first day!
Friday morning started early with a quick breakfast and full morning of training. This morning session, again facilitated by Suzette, was called Leadership Flexibility. This was a very useful session, applicable to any number of situations. We learned to identify how to lead, coach and support people who are at various levels of working through a project or situation, and how to modify our own leadership style according to what that person needed in that situation at that time. For instance, someone who is highly committed to a project but doesn’t yet have the skills necessary to make it successful needs very different leadership and support than someone who is highly skilled in an area but doesn’t have the commitment to it. I can see myself using the skills learned here very often, and would love to share this training with our members here at home!
Following lunch, there were a whole series of shorter sessions, including:
· How to run effective meetings
· Talking about JCI to future members
· Dealing with difficult people
· Effective communications
Following dinner on Friday evening with my new friend Solveig Malvik (current Director of Marketing for JCI UK), we headed over to the US Jaycee Service Center. Aside from being the headquarters for the US Jaycee offices, the Service Center also hosts a historical archive and account of JCI’s beginning, expansion throughout the world and current operations.
From JCI’s beginning in 1914 in St. Louis, through international expansion in 1944, to it’s spread throughout the world today, the Service Center tells a fascinating story.
And that completes Friday evening!
More to come regarding Saturday and Sunday! J