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Solving work force issues with leadership

Zoe Greszler • Feb 10, 2018 at 4:00 PM

WILLARD — Good leadership can be the key to success, setting the precedent for others to follow a better example.

That’s why the Willard Area Chamber of Commerce chose to focus on the good leadership in the community for its annual banquet Thursday. 

Executive director Ricky Branham, referring to the “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book by Stephen Covey, asked the audience to consider “beginning with the end in mind” in order to gain good leadership. This was something, he said, that begins with the area youth.

“Work force issues come in many ways. The work force is changing,” Branham said.

“Millennials are taking over. Leadership is lacking. ... Baby boomers are retiring and therefore businesses are losing knowledge. Job hopping is in and loyalty is out. Finding quality workers is a problem. Finding people who just want to work is a problem. What do we do in our local community to fix that problem? How do begin with the end in mind?”

The chamber leader told those in attendance more “Willard success stories” were needed — stories where children grew up and either stayed in Willard as productive and thriving individuals, contributing to the community, or they left and came back as those positive forces in the city.

Branham asked leaders in the community from successful businesses former LSC Communications, Pepperdige Farm and Midwest Industries. 

Mark Voss, vice president of LSC, said he found good examples of leadership in family and school coaches and encouraged the audience to set the same example for those children in their lives. 

MTD general manager Jeremy McConoughey, meanwhile, said they offered good leadership skills at all levels of work at the company, by starting with an in-house apprenticeship, regular training and even offering internal hirings and promotions first.  

And in giving the report of the successes of 2017, he said Willard has worked toward achieving that as more people sign up to mentor the youth of the community. There are 32 local businesses involved in the city mentoring program.

Along the same lines, the elementary school asked the community and local businesses to support them tn starting a “Leader in Me” program, which is based off of the principles from widely popular books “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” and “The Leader in Me.” The program will encompass the whole elementary and in the years to come, the whole district, in teaching children how to be leaders and “good people,” Superintendent Jeff Ritz said.

Branham encouraged all to consider supporting both causes and to see how they could apply good leadership at their work places and at the schools. 

“We will be focusing out ideas and thoughts on trying to make a difference, by also trying to improve the quality of our life for our community and our residents,” he said.

“We are beginning with the end in mind with trying to improve your workforce and trying to make a difference in our kids locally. As our kids get older they will be ready to enter in the job force and they will be good employees for you. Yes it will take years and it will take time, it will take a community effort, but we have to start somewhere.”

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