Who will be the next leader of the Ames Chamber of Commerce? It’s an odd question, but one that was proposed to me a few weeks ago by one of our board members.
First and foremost, I have no plans to retire or move on from the work that we are doing. I love the Ames MSA, the Ames Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Commission, and our communities. Perhaps at no other point in my career have I been more excited by the work that we are doing than I am right now. I plan to continue our amazing work for a long time, but the question got me thinking about leadership.
We think about leadership a lot at the Ames Chamber of Commerce, both within our organization and how we serve our community. If something were to happen to me, we have succession plans in place. We also regularly assess the roles and responsibilities of each person so that we can build redundancies and backups for each person. These are important things to identify so that the work can continue.
Developing the next generation of leaders is a responsibility that we all must carry. Some people are natural leaders and possess the required skills needed to run an organization, manage projects, or cultivate relationships. But in my experience, those skills need to be paired with adequate experience. I do not necessarily mean years of service, but rather having access to the world of leadership; how decisions are made and the thought process behind them.
I have spoken before about the entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) that we utilize to set goals, identify gaps in our system, and how it holds us accountable to one another. We use this within our leadership team, but each departmental team uses it as well to be more efficient. I also think about the informal ways that we can cultivate leaders. I strive to provide updates to my team on the work that is happening that lies beyond their scope of influence, while explaining my thinking behind it. I can do this in meetings or within an impromptu one-on-one conversation with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope these interactions inspire innovation and a new level of thinking for those in our organization.
Finally, I would like to pitch a few leadership programming options from the Ames Chamber of Commerce. We recently announced the 36th class of Leadership Ames. The program gives both experienced and emerging leaders a broader view of civic leadership responsibilities and opportunities through direct contact with a wide range of institutions and people who shape the community where we live and work.
One additional affiliate program that we are investing more resources into this year is the young professional organization, FUEL. You can learn more on the FUEL website, but I encourage you to consider being a member for the professional networking, programming, and social opportunities that it provides. Many of the next leaders of our community are already here, so let’s facilitate their success.
President & CEO
Ames Chamber of Commerce
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