It seems like only yesterday I started what I now affectionately call my ‘leadership journey’. I was lost, truly, but not in a ‘I don’t know where I am’ sense, more of a ‘I don’t know WHO I am’ sense. I had come to the awareness that I wanted my life to mean more. What that meant I wasn’t exactly sure, and to be honest it’s still not as clear as I would like it to be, and at 53, it’s moving WAY too fast.
What I had experienced for roughly 42 years of my life was a very large gap in leadership. Not leadership positions mind you, there are plenty of those, but real leadership. I didn’t even realize I had experienced a gap for that long until I was fortunate enough to discover a real leader when I applied for a job and was accepted as a part of a team that was so good I still have a hard time explaining it to people.
I was a part of something that transcended just a team, I was challenged, and supported and encouraged, and above all….valued by amazingly talented people. It was SO powerful for me, and exposed me to so many amazing things, that I decideded I wanted to bring that feeling to as many people as I possibly could, and I would do it by learning to LEAD.
Why is this important and what does it have to do with CTE? The currency of the 21st century is not only technical skills. It’s not just academic achievement. It’s the ability to Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn. Applicable skills within the framework of CTE that map to jobs are critical as we move forward, no one would disagree with that. We must also help people with what we like to call soft skills, even though they may be the most critical skills of all.
I mentioned value earlier and being a part of a team that cares about each other, can deliver that value. Understanding that we aren’t here, or on a team just to get things for ourselves, but to serve others in the best way we can. Caring for people, understanding that everyone has value, and learning to empathize and use kindness solve challenges, these are how we change the world and create a world class workforce.
Learning to voice your opinions respectfully. Using empathy and kindness to understand another’s unique perspective. Having difficult conversations with an open mind and heart. Creating a space for people to be vulnerable without fear of judgement, because all voices matter. Creating environments where all team members feel heard. Understanding that we may not always agree on everything, but once the team sets a direction, we all go that direction, together. Creating the kind of trust that allows us to fail and learn and try again. You can call these soft skills if you want to, but trust me when I tell you every industry we work with is actively searching for these skills. These aren’t soft skills, they are Success Skills.
Time is moving way too fast. The world of work is constantly evolving. Kindness, positivity, empathy, and authenticity? Those are never going out of style.