When Anne Brown enrolled in Leadership Essentials, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Brown, associate property manager at Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), found out about the program through her employer, which has put numerous employees through the program.
Although she lives in Annapolis, COPT is headquartered in Columbia, and Brown has found herself drawn to the Howard County area both professionally and personally.
Brown gets the opportunity to work with many of the large employers in the area and has gotten to know the community from the inside out. “It would be a fantastic place to live,” she said.
On the job, she relies heavily on her project management skills. Leadership Essentials, she said, expanded her knowledge of the tools — from software to strategic thinking — that she can access to strengthen her project management performance.
Brown also found herself drawn to the community service aspect of the program. As part of a small Leadership Essentials team, she completed a community service project that involved helping the Howard County Office on Aging strengthen its marketing strategy.
“We worked with the Office on Aging to give them some marketing ideas, including new ways to use social media,” Brown explained. “We talked with human resources departments of different companies to help make them aware of the services offered through the Office on Aging. I found that to be my favorite part.”
Since graduating from the program in 2010, Brown has stayed involved in community service and continues to serve on a Leadership Essentials committee that advises the program on its community service component.
Leadership Essentials showed Brown that community service is about more than just a program. It’s a feeling, she said.
“Howard County is a very connected place, and people seem to care about their community here. That’s something I always wanted to feel.”
Loyola Now Managing Program
Leadership Essentials not only changes people like Brown, it also has undergone some recent dramatic changes itself.
As of 2012, Leadership Essentials is now offered through Loyola University’s Sellinger School of Business and Management.
“Leadership Howard County made a strategic decision in seeking a partner to take over the management of Leadership Essentials,” explained Lori Fuchs, program manager for Leadership Essentials and a consultant for Loyola University. “Although Leadership Essentials is now considered a Loyola program, we get tremendous support from Leadership Howard County.”
Fuchs, enthusiastic about strengthening the community she has called home for several decades, knew and appreciated both Leadership Essentials and Loyola before the partnership was ever formed. “This is a perfect fit for me,” she said. “I have the dual goals of promoting Loyola and integrating Leadership Essentials participants into the Leadership Howard County community.”
The six-month leadership development program is offered January through June at Loyola’s Graduate Center, located at the Columbia campus, on McGaw Road. It focuses on rising stars and future leaders under the age of 40 who live or work in Howard County. Classes are typically composed of 20–25 students.
Besides relying on word-of-mouth testimonials from graduates like Brown, Fuchs helps plan a series of recruiting events — including happy hours, networking events and conversations with key organizations in the county — to gather new Leadership Essentials participants.
The program is designed to address the critical gap between the skills provided by formal education and the full development of seasoned professionals, explained Fuchs.
“We refer to the components of Leadership Essentials as a three-legged stool: classroom, coaching and community service.”
The Leadership Essentials program is evaluated by participants and alumni, who often return to serve on planning committees to ensure the program stays current and reflects an ever-changing business and community environment.
“We’ve recently revamped our segment on building effective relationships to include personal branding and networking through social media,” Fuchs noted.
Building Results-Oriented Leaders
Leadership Essentials participants sharpen the skills necessary for effective leadership in their organizations and within the community. From project management to critical thinking, students focus on the skills they will use not only to build their careers but also to emerge as leaders within the county and beyond.
“Ideally, Leadership Essentials students will graduate from that program, then go on later to become Leadership Premier participants,” said Fuchs.
While students spend time in the classroom learning skills such as creating impactful presentations, they also experience one-on-one coaching sessions with professional and established leaders in local business and community organizations. Several of the volunteer coaches are Leadership Premier graduates. During their coaching sessions, Leadership Essentials participants reflect on their business and personal challenges and work to create a personal development plan.
“This personal development plan was valuable to me because I’m still developing my career,” said Brown. “When I work with the people in Leadership Premier, I see that most of them are at a different stage in their careers,” she said.
Finding Their Place
This is why the programs complement each other, explained Fuchs. “Most Leadership Essentials participants are focused as individuals who are emerging in their workplaces in some way. Many of them have young kids and, as parents and professionals, they are just beginning to find their place in community service in Howard County.”
To help enhance this knowledge of community service, Leadership Essentials students work in small teams to complete short-term community service projects that help Howard County’s broad nonprofit sector.
By the time participants are ready to apply for Leadership Premier, they’ve emerged as leaders in the community service arena, said Fuchs. “They’ve not only demonstrated leadership skills in their workplace but also within their homeowners association, PTA or other community group.”
Although Brown’s favorite aspect of Leadership Essentials was the community service component, she believes all three pillars of the “three-legged stool” helped her hone her skills and will continue to help her shape her future.
“Leadership Essentials is a very well-rounded program,” she said. “You get just the right amount of instruction, coaching and community service.”
For more information about Leadership Essentials, contact Lori Fuchs at firstname.lastname@example.org.