What is your interpersonal leadership style, and how does it impact how you interact and lead? What’s the connection between a strategic plan and financial management? How do you manage a board, committees and staff efficiently? And just how important is communication —with stakeholders, businesses, partners, boards and staff — to reach achievable and meaningful goals?
These are probably not questions you typically ask yourself on a typical day. However, during the 2022 Emerging Leader Fellowship (ELF) program in June, 30 individuals stepped away from their roles as Presidents, CEOs, Vice Presidents, Executive Directors, Chiefs of Staff, Directors and Managers to spend a week exploring these and other questions, and considering their individual responses. Certainly, the days included class discussions led by respected thought leaders, but the true learning came during the moments of vulnerability and openness when the cohort shared thoughts, emotions and experiences. These moments occurred during class time, over meals, on subway rides and walks along sidewalks while visiting districts throughout NYC, and late into the evening over drinks and light-hearted conversation. These emerging leaders know what leadership is but having the space and time to question and learn from experts (and each other), they now, more importantly, have a deeper understanding of their own specific leadership capacity.
There are numerous places one can go to learn what makes a great leader but learning and understanding the attributes of being a downtown leader takes a special level of work and dedication. This is undoubtedly the case as downtowns and city centers reopen and reemerge in ways that are much different than two years ago. The ELF program provided this unique opportunity, and through the sharing and commiserating that occurred during the week, this learning doesn’t stop on the last day of “class.” It will continue as this new network of peers will remain confidants, sounding boards, friends and colleagues for many years to come. What an exciting and rewarding time to explore what downtown leadership is!