This round of the Leadership Coaching Series was particularly challenging, as participants worked with our community partner Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baton Rouge while dealing with the historic flooding that hit the region in August.
The 8 participants saw their series postponed for two weeks because of the flooding, as everyone was affected either directly or indirectly. And even when the series started up again, all involved were still dealing with recovery in some way.
The Leadership Coaching Series is designed to challenge high-potential employees and new leaders to expand their leadership competencies as they offer innovative, strategic business solutions to a real-world problem that a community partner organization is facing. Participants are divided into two teams and must work together to identify strategies the organization can use to achieve its goal.
Participants for this round of the series came from the petrochemical and industrial construction industries and from state agencies. Their task was to come up with suggestions to refine the brand of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baton Rouge, a nonprofit community organization that helps academically capable and motivated children who are in need to meet their full potential. The organization provides value-centered, family-like homes and environments, as well as opportunities and education. The teams were also charged with building a more effective strategy for the organization’s annual fundraiser, Bowl for Hope.
Refining the Message
The teams worked hard to brainstorm solutions and then to narrow the list of recommendations while facing a shortened timeline to decide which ideas to focus on.
Suggestions that the teams came up with included:
- Streamlining the organization’s slide show by focusing on just a couple of participants and including more effective information, such as how the residential students’ home operates. A more streamlined format would give potential partners a basic understanding of what BHGH-BR stands for and leave them primed to want to learn more, says participant Jeff Binder, director of talent management in the state’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. “This would allow for additional follow-up opportunities to continue to build stronger partnerships between BHGH-BR and community partners,” Binder says.
- Running a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats on the fundraiser. The teams noted opportunities such as the possibility of kids bowling on behalf of sponsors who want to donate but don’t want to bowl themselves and including more booths or tents.
- Highlighting the efforts and achievements of the organization to expand its reach while reducing costs, which it did by adding a nonresidential program to support young students in school.
Growing as Leaders
Throughout the project, participants worked on their leadership skills as they came up with ideas for BHGH-BR. “My team was quiet at first and had a slow start,” says Christine Hazlip, human resources director in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. “We really seemed to hit our stride at the end of the second week, when we were comfortable enough with each other to begin to give feedback about our ideas.”
Hazlip says the series helped her understand her direct reports as individuals that fit into a team as well as her own leadership style. “I think individuals who have been leaders for a while could benefit from this class,” she says. “It would remind them to be intentional about their interactions when it’s so easy to go into autopilot.”
“Our biggest challenge was narrowing our focus,” Binder says. His group wanted to focus on preparing a new presentation and providing a detailed plan to maximize Bowl for Hope, but quickly realized their time was too limited to do both. “Because we didn’t want to turn in two poorly done projects, we focused on where we thought we could have the most impact — the new presentation.”
Bringing ‘Energy and Excitement’
John Daniel, executive director of BHGH-BR, says it was a pleasure and an honor to be with the “brain trust” that Success Labs brought together. He praised the “energy and excitement” the participants brought to the task and said their ideas about tightening up the organization’s marketing presentation are good ones.
He says he’ll keep honing BHGH-BR’s innovative approach to using its resources, and says BHGH’s national office is following the Baton Rouge chapter’s lead on its approach to helping kids through education and support. The organization’s latest fundraiser, held Oct. 29-30, raised seven times the amount spent on it, and Daniel says he’s ready to keep making changes.
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Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.