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Why Apply for the MANP Emerging Leaders Program?

by Guest Blogger

When I pulled up to the Sail Maine dock on that foggy Saturday morning in September, I didn’t quite know what to expect of the next 36 hours on Cow Island with Rippleffect, the kickoff event to the MANP Emerging Leaders program. As it turns out, both the weekend on Cow Island, and the subsequent eight learning sessions, completely surpassed my expectations. When I first heard about the program, I was excited because I had previously wanted to get involved in the community through a not-for-profit, but did not know how to approach it. The Emerging Leaders Program made that a reality, but what it truly did was help me develop personally, engage in self-reflection, learn skills I could use professionally and meet 25 people that I am so happy to call friends.

Going into the Cow Island weekend, my naiveté led me to believe that the time would be spent doing some basic leadership development activities and camping out with the larger group. I could not have been more wrong. What really emerged were moments of introspection, development of friendships, trust building opportunities, and people pushing past comfort zones to reach new levels of personal growth. For whatever reason, even after the Cow Island experience I still thought to myself that the rest of the program would be eight sessions of three-hour lectures to teach us all about the nuances of board membership. Instead, the majority of the classroom time was spent doing interactive case studies in groups and hearing from alumni guest speakers and community leaders.

I’m a big believer in storytelling to reinforce a point, so please allow me to share an observation which proved to be a microcosm for this program.

Right out of the gate on Cow Island, our group went through a series of ice-breakers, which involved public speaking in front of approximately 30 people we did not know. One of our class members was very nervous to speak publicly and made that known on multiple occasions during those 36 hours on the island. Ironically enough, you would never be able to tell as much, but such is what we all experience with our own self-consciousness. As the program advanced, the class was divided up into groups of six to observe a board meeting and deliver a presentation back to the class as a whole about what we learned. During this individual’s presentation, it was the first time there was not a preface of apprehension prior to speaking, and just as before, delivered the information as eloquently as a seasoned lecturer. Then came the final day, where we ended the formal part of our class with one final group circle and a sharing of what we took away from this program. Not only did this person not preface the comments with a display of nerves, but they noted that this program had advanced their comfort level with public speaking. I am completely confident in stating that each member of this class experienced personal growth through a similar trajectory.

On a personal level, my favorite moment of the program came in week eight which carried a session titled ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’. Within the context of the Emerging Leaders Program, this topic is an essential one to create a healthy board environment and to effectively advocate for all those who benefit from your particular nonprofit. What still stands out to me about this session is not only the new perspectives that I learned from the pre-reading, but that in only three short months this group of 25 felt comfortable sharing their opinions around a topic that isn’t always the easiest to talk about with “strangers.”

If you want to learn how to be a board member for a nonprofit, pick up a book. If you want to grow as a person, expose yourself to other perspectives, push the limits of your comfort zone and learn skills that can drive professional success in all industries, apply to a future MANP Emerging Leaders class.

About the Author

Stephen Tyzik participated in the 9th class of Emerging Leaders in 2018. He is a Performance Improvement Consultant within Operational Excellence at Maine Health. His expertise lies in facilitating multidisciplinary Kaizen (improvement) work in clinical and administrative settings to improve patient experience, drive strategically aligned outcomes, and enhance care team well-being. He  received a Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, Geneseo, and an MBA in Health Care Management from Clarkson University.

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