In October 2011, I was fortunate to have been selected to embark on a 20-month leadership development journey through an organization called the California Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP). The curriculum requires many days of travel away from work and family—in fact, part of the leadership lesson is learning to juggle the responsibilities of travel and intense training with life back home.
In addition to numerous hours in a classroom setting, we spend even more time reading books on leadership styles, business strategies, and effective communication techniques. Our group of 23 fellows has traveled to homeless shelters and rehabilitation facilities in Sacramento, to gang prevention organizations in East Los Angeles, and to financially and nutritionally starved regions in Detroit. Additionally, we’ve walked the steps of the U.S. Capitol, conversed with a Supreme Court Justice in Washington DC, and followed the march of General Picket’s charge at Gettysburg. Each experience has helped shape my understanding of myself and sharpen the focus with which I view situations—and the journey is not even halfway done yet! Understanding of these principles has not helped increase my IQ, but rather, my EQ: emotional intelligence.
The mission of CALP is to “grow leaders who make a difference” and growing is what Class 42 has done over the past seven months. I’ve learned that effective leadership is not an outward expression of imposing one’s will upon others, but an internal understanding of oneself in order to effectively motivate others.
I’ve also learned that Markon is a model for leadership from which we can all learn. Markon’s influence within the foodservice industry is displayed not only by being the forerunner in food safety, quality assurance, new product innovation, customer service, and purchasing structures, but also by our employees who strive to do the right thing at both sides of the negotiating table. Operating with unwavering integrity promotes a sense of trust that will ensure long-term partnerships and alliances throughout the industry.
I am reminded of the analogy of a field crew with the best practices, highest level of efficiency, and most-advanced packing techniques—harvesting in the wrong field because their leader didn’t have the necessary skills to guide them to the correct place.
At Markon we have the leadership and vision to ensure that the best practices are being implemented—and in the right areas.