The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has honored KCI Chairman of the Board Terry F. Neimeyer, PE, ENV SP, BCEE, F.ASCE, with an Outstanding Projects And Leaders award in the management category.
I thought I unmistakably understood what it took to be a leader. You know, the hard-working, leading-by-example, persuasive, intuitive and never-back-down born leader. Not until I had my first class at KCI’s Emerging Leaders Program did I begin to ponder what it really meant to be a leader, and how I could potentially emerge as one.
This program was structured over a two-year span with bi-monthly coursework – the course schedule was just right for me. Looking back I’m really thankful that the program allowed a 2-month break between modules so I could juggle between a bazillion things I was going through at that moment (being a new dad for one). Coupled with group projects and upper management interaction, the program delivered a unique learning experience that I truly enjoyed and cherished.
Being immersed in the multi-dimensional learning environment, the first and foremost thing I learned was that while there certainly are natural born leaders, leaders can be made. Leadership is an art; nonetheless your leadership and management skills can be refined and perfected over your life long journey by training and experience. What’s more interesting – you don’t even necessarily need a title or position for folks to follow your lead. Realizing that to lead is to establish a direction and to align, motivate and inspire people helped me greatly in transforming my understanding of leadership. Thanks to the interactive training exercises throughout the program, I was able to recalibrate myself to better align with the vision of the whole KCI team. Then I became re-energized, empowered, and more eager than ever to challenge myself to emerge as a successful leader in my career.
As the program progressed, it became evident to me that team building and empowerment were central to leadership development. In a variety of team exercises during the program we were strung together, physically and/or mentally, to perform as a team. It didn’t take us long to realize that without a well-thought-out strategy, clear team communication and close team collaboration, we would have never won any given exercise. Applying what I learned from these fun-filled exercises, it didn’t take me too long to figure out in my daily work that a well-structured and well-communicated game plan is essential for smooth project execution. Some of the role-playing exercises were in fact very tricky, and for me, it was lots of fun to watch folks rolling up the sleeves and exhausting all the means to compete for a can of candy. Through all these kinds of team exercises and group projects, I could tangibly feel that a deeper bond had been formed among all of us, empowering us to be stronger, do better and go further as a whole – and I figured that was the chemistry of team building.
Another aspect of the program I truly appreciated was that it helped push me beyond my limits and break down my barriers. It wasn’t easy for me to stand in front of people and give a one minute speech. I didn’t see it inviting to stand up and pitch a wild idea to the room. I didn’t feel it comfortable to role play a tough negotiator. But I did it, with the help and encouragement from the instructor and my fellow participants. It was really a great feeling and I’m grateful that this program inspired and empowered me to take baby steps to improve my leadership as well as management skills.
Looking back, I surely did have a wonderful time and it was a truly rewarding experience. It was a great honor for me to be part of this phenomenal program at KCI. Now, since I have emerged, a new journey has begun.