Fostering a Community of Leaders
This year, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in a program that has become an area institution: the North Lake Tahoe Truckee Leadership Program. Participants in the five-month program include members of the Tahoe-Truckee community from all walks and a variety of industries. Sierra Business Council has been sending staff for quite some time and this year was no exception. The value to an organization sending employees to a leadership class is immeasurable. Aside from the benefits advertised on the program’s website, there was the bonus benefit of getting to know and work with a cohort of area leaders that may not have crossed my path otherwise. I wondered what my skill was that would benefit my fellow classmates, what role I would play in the group dynamics. I didn’t wonder long, however, as it quickly became apparent my tales of Truckee’s past were a well-received niche looking to be filled.
There are many lessons and exercises in leadership throughout the course, but the main focus is a large project to be presented at the end of the program. Divided into smaller groups and provided with a hypothetical budget, the groups come up with an idea that might benefit or impact their community. Breaking out within the smaller groups was not just serving a research and production purpose, but gave members of the group the opportunity to learn more about each other and what each person’s role in the community is.
I decided to pitch my idea to the class. I wanted to find a way to pair my love of storytelling with my current work within the small business industry. Others in the class liked the idea, so we were one of five groups formed to take on and develop a concept. My group worked on a project designed to add positive, local content to different social media platforms using a historic event or industry and pairing it with a modern-day business or organization that has a similar goal or end product. The reader learns something about the history of their area at the same time as learning about a local business. In a time when social media can be discouraging and negative, we hoped to develop content that would inspire and serve a unifying purpose.
We named the project, “Echoes Past and Present” and developed a storytelling template. We told the story of Truckee’s ice industry and how the cold commodity served to bring California’s fertile produce across the country to places where it didn’t grow, enabling the state’s agricultural industry to boom. We paired the story with Tahoe Food Hub, a local organization that also brings food to places where it does not grow, providing a service that stimulates Northern California farm communities while servicing a population that does not have a lot of locally-grown food options. The stories are meant to foster pride in one’s area and couple it with information about local businesses and the people who inspire their mission.
The idea was well-received and I took pride in the way my group pulled off the concept and delivery. The leadership class provided us with tools to use as area leaders as well as a better understanding of what we are all working on as a community. I believe the facilitators of this program succeeded exceptionally in showing us that, together, we can service our community in positive and meaningful ways. Enhancing the leadership skills of our community members serves everyone, from individuals to employers to the community at large. We will put those skills to work as we move and shake throughout the Tahoe-Truckee area and wherever our paths lead us. Check out www.tahoetruckeeleadership.com for information on next year’s program.