A Poster Is Worth a Thousand Words

Renee Harness and Tim Miller

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Early on in the roll-out process, leaders in organizations are often looking for ways to get the word out about The Leadership Challenge to all of their people. They may not have resources in a given year to invite all employees to participate in The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, or they may want to begin promoting the concepts of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® as they implement the program. ILC Dover LP is one company that has found a very unique way to promote The Five Practices. As the world's leader in Engineered Softgoods, ILC Dover has been involved in producing some of the world's most visible icons: NASA Space Suits, airships and blimps, Mars landing bags, and military and civilian gas masks. In 2004, ILC Dover created a Leadership and Team Development Group as part of an overall company cultural change initiative. In simplified form their charter was:

Better leaders + Better teams = Improved Performance

Research led the group to The Leadership Challenge as one method for both leadership development and team improvement. The Leadership and Team Development Group saw The Five Practices as a natural fit with their culture and began promoting these with the acronym MICEE (pronounced Mike-ee at ILC Dover) as a constant reminder to:

  • Model the Way
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Challenge the Process
  • Enable Others to Act
  • Encourage the Heart

Tim Miller, Design Engineer, was the first to attend The Leadership Challenge® Workshop in a public program held by Meridian Leadership Center, and led by master facilitators Renee Harness & Jo Bell, in Indianapolis, Indiana in February of 2007. Later that year, a cross-section of leaders from ILC Dover were invited to attend another workshop as well. Together, this group was inspired to "get the MICEE message out" and met to brainstorm ways they could do just that.

The result was the MICEE Poster Contest, which includes five individual poster competitions (one for each of The Five Practices). The objective of these contests is to: "Design a Poster illustrating one of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® to help communicate these practices and how they can help us improve individually and as an organization."

Each contest runs over the period of approximately one month, allowing time for participants to research, design, and prepare their posters. The judging is performed anonymously by Jo Bell and Renee Harness. Prizes are $1000 for 1st place, $150 for 2nd, $75 for 3rd, and 2 movie tickets for each participating employee.

The resulting posters have been inspiring, creative, and informative! The most recent winner is Phil Blazejak who is a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at ILC. His entry, seen below, defines the practice of Challenge the Process in a "MICEEpedia" format with definitions and examples of co-workers who use this practice. It is a great demonstration of using creativity to inspire and inform others about leadership, and that leadership is everyone's business. Leadership is beginning to happen at every level of the ILC Dover organization.

"As of September 15, 2008, we have completed the first three contests." said Tim Miller, "A total of 56 posters have been submitted, and we have awarded over $3500 and handed out more than 120 movie tickets. During the past three months, ILC employees have researched, read, discussed, drawn, printed, cut, pasted, created, and challenged themselves and one another. And, in the process, they have even demonstrated some of The Five Practices common to personal-best leadership experiences. I call that SUCCESS!"

Renee Harness is Managing Partner of Meridian Leadership Center and has led organizational development, leadership and effectiveness initiatives in corporations and academia for nearly 15 years. She is a part of The Leadership Challenge Master Facilitator Network and has played key roles in implementing The Leadership Challenge at companies in financial services, healthcare and manufacturing.

Tim Miller is a Senior Design Engineer in charge of Lighter Than Air Products at ILC Dover. Tim is involved from concept through manufacture and continuing into customer field support for ILCs line of airship and aerostat envelopes including the Zeppelin NT and the American Blimp Lightships.

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