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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Leadership 101

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  • What does it mean to be a good leader? That’s the question about 30 community members have been studying during this year’s “Leadership Newton” class. The program explores the responsibilities and opportunities that come with being a leader, and it seeks to equip participants with the skills they need to take more of a leadership role in their community. During the class’s graduation reception Wednesday, Jim Schwarzenberger, executive director of the Newton Chamber, praised the class participants for their willingness to serve. “This is a significant time commitment,” he said. “... We really appreciate your commitment to leadership in this community.” Leadership Newton is a seven-week program that has been around for about 20 years, though its format has changed some over time. One of this year’s students is Margie Wiens, a realtor with RE/MAX Associates and a member of the Newton Area Board of Realtors. “I was encouraged to be a participant and share what I learned with the board and with our membership,” she said. She said the class showed her a new way of thinking about leadership, and she said there is a difference between true leadership and simply being in a position of authority. The class teaches participants how to manage themselves; diagnose problems within an organization and the community; how to effectively intervene to solve those problems; address the needs of different groups; keep an open mind and consider the viewpoints of others; and energize others to achieve goals. Steve Richards with Peace Connections and Circles of Hope echoes Wiens’ thoughts that leadership should be an activity, not a position. He said the class teaches participants how to become more engaged in the community and how to come together to address issues and solve problems. He believes he will be able to apply what he has learned as he works in the community. “I’m confident that we are learning and can be practicing the principles and skills we have learned,” he said. “... It’s a very good way to explore personal growth and to increase my understanding and ability to work with other people.” The program can be challenging, but it is a program Wiens would recommend to others. “It’s not an easy program,” she said. “... But I think it stretches your thinking and your ways of thinking about things. It widens your perspective.” 

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