In 2013, I embarked on a ten-month leadership and self-development journey within Southland Industries, called Built to Lead.  I remember excitedly listening in during the program’s kick-off meeting conference call in early January 2013, recognizing only one other name in the group, but looking forward to the year ahead packed with team meetings, coaching, leadership development and a little bit of fun.  One of our first tasks as a group was to complete individual Leadership 360 Reviews.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the 360 review process, it is a structured approach to determining a person’s strengths and weaknesses by asking a diverse group of people—ranging from colleagues and bosses to personal relationships and direct reports—to evaluate and comment on the individual. In addition, the person being evaluated (so, in this case, me) is required to complete a 360 review, too, in order to see how one stacks up against the outside evaluators.

I completed my review and was excited to receive the results.  Well, there is nothing more humbling than receiving the results of your Leadership 360 and comparing the evaluations of others against your own.  I thought to myself, “Those 17 people are wrong – they don’t know me like I know me.”   In all seriousness, this was the start of my leadership growth and development and really helped me focus on the areas where I had to improve.  Over the next year, I became more aware of my surroundings and actions and concentrated on slowing down to become more engaging and communicative in an effort to develop better relationships.

I practice what I learned in Built to Lead on a daily basis in all of my interactions and I have noticed the difference.  I have more engaging conversations and the quality of my relationships across the company has improved.  Built to Lead was one of the greatest experiences I have had during my time at Southland and I feel fortunate to have been able to grow as an individual, form a life-long bond with five other people, and to have had a little bit of fun along the way.


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