Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?

Notes from the Field

“Leaders are dreamers. Leaders are idealists. Leaders are possibility thinkers.”
 Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 6th edition

As part of Wiley’s Masters Give Back program, our team of three facilitators recently had the honor of delivering The Leadership Challenge® Workshop to staff and volunteer leaders of Guardianship Services Incorporated (GSI), a non-profit social services agency in Ft. Worth, TX that provides guardianship and other care management support to vulnerable adults who are experiencing physical or cognitive challenges.

Like so many case managers and volunteers in other social service agencies, not only in Texas but elsewhere, their work often goes unnoticed. But having been given this opportunity to come and experience The Leadership Challenge®, to focus on themselves—on their talents, strengths, and capacity to lead—each of the 19 workshop participants demonstrated what heroes they truly are. Our team fell in love with them and their purpose the minute we met them.

Initially, the majority of our participants were a bit hesitant—and a bit confused. Why were they in leadership training when, as case managers, they considered only their supervisors to be leaders? When they showed up on day one, many tied title and position to leadership. However, as each person shared his/her personal best story it became clear that leadership is not positional and that each person in the room was a leader. In fact, one of the early highlights for us as facilitators was watching these leaders struggle to define their values only to then hear their laughter as they shared their values with each other and experienced their “ah-ha” moments.

The following day the group returned with their completed assignments: vision statements that were full of power and passion, and bursting with purpose. As they shared their vision statements in small groups, we noted that some of the messages described past hurts and challenges they had endured as a result of tough organizational changes. However, these same statements also were filled with dreams and ideals that promoted hope about the organization’s future.

After the small group sharing, Lyn Scott, Guardianship Services’ Executive Director, shared her vision with the team (with a nod to Bette Midler):
Did you ever know that you are my heroes
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle
for you are the wind beneath my wings.

“Less than two years ago,” Lyn continued, “I joined the GSI team and together we’ve changed so much as we work tirelessly to meet the needs of our community and comply with ever-changing legislation. We are migrating to a warmer, sunnier GSI.”

Lyn continued to read her vision using the cadence of the song, Wind Beneath My Wings, comparing GSI to the picture of the flying geese in the “V” formation. She reminded the group about their purpose, protecting at-risk adults from abuse and exploitation, and the importance of self-care while doing so.

As Lyn spoke, our team of facilitators saw something powerful take place: healing. Some staff had tears that were joyous reminders of why they come to work each day, while the tears of others were from the release of hurtful feelings, a residual of past changes before Lyn’s time. When Lyn finished, there was hardly a dry eye in the room. She had revisited the past, reflected on the present, and visualized a future that promoted GSI’s mission and purpose while encouraging self-care. In doing so, she Encouraged the Hearts of all in the room that day. She connected what was meaningful to the leaders at GSI while inviting everyone to continue their journey…together.

Our team of three facilitators finished that program with a song in our hearts. Not only was this group pulled together as a team by Lyn’s vision, each leader individually also found her or his voice through the powerful lessons of The Leadership Challenge.

Nik Curnell, a Certified Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge®, is a Leadership Instructor with the Leadership Development Center, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He can be reached at Nicholas.curnell@ice.dhs.gov.

Michael Curtis is a Certified Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge® and has been a member of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for over 20 years. He currently supervises a team of highly motivated trainers for Adult Protective Services and can be reached at michael.curtis@dfps.state.tx.us.

Lawandra Smith,
a Certified Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge®, has worked in public service for over 27 years. An Advance Leadership Specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services delivering The Leadership Challenge workshops to middle and executive management across the state, she can be reached at Lawandra.smith@dfps.state.tx.us.


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