Leadership Lions

County commission teams with Wallace State to train employees

Wallace State Community College Center for Career and Workforce Development Career Navigator Jamie Newman speaks to a Leadership Lions class Friday morning. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Commission teamed up with Wallace State Community College to give County employees the opportunity to attend Leadership Lions classes at the school Thursday and Friday. The course is offered by WSCC’s Center for Career and Workforce Development and taught by Career Navigator Jamie Newman.

Newman described Leadership Lions as “a training program to give local companies an opportunity to train locally and get support for their upcoming leaders. We are hoping to get the program out there and people to know about it so they can come. It is very collaborative and very person-centered. We are pulling a lot from a lot of different sources- Naval leadership, military leadership, psychological research and some of our own experiences.”

Some of the topics the class discussed Friday morning included crisis leadership, transitioning from peer to leader and how to manage punishment, praise and promotion.

Said Newman, “We talk about all of that and it’s a lot of fun.” The class participated in a communication activity designed to “bring awareness to what kind of personality traits you bring to the table, why people do what they do, how groups form and perform best and, of course, common leadership.”

She added, “Wallace has never had a leadership certification. We saw the need for it, that a lot of our local companies hire from the inside, and we heard the need. We are trying to make sure our workforce is competitive and as well trained as we possibly can.”

Cullman County Commission Customer Service Representative Frances Montgomery said Friday, “Yesterday, they focused on learning what type of personality they had and how their personality works with other personalities. There’s like 16 different types of personalities of people that you can run into in the workplace and in your day-to-day life. It takes a different skill set to interact with each one of those different type personalities.”

Friday, the class focused on diversity, understanding power differentials, developing empathy, communicating with those with different life backgrounds, different conflict styles, how to manage a hard conversation and managing difficult situations.

“We are trying to give them the skills of how to transition from co-worker to leader. A lot of the County (employees), the promotion is internal, and you do have a lot of situations where someone was coworker and now they are in leadership, and they need those skills to know how to communicate and develop their own team and let their new team know, ‘Hey, I got your back and we are in this together and here to serve the county.’ We are here to serve the people of Cullman County and give them the skills in getting the point across.”

Commission on Aging Nutrition Coordinator Laurie Knight was one of the class members for this week’s Leadership Lions course. She said of the class, “It’s very beneficial. “It’s always good to get a different view of things and how to handle things. She organized everything around our job and how we handle the public and our positions working with the County. It’s very worth it. It’s very relatable to what we do, and we will take a lot of it back and use it.”

Cullman County Safety Coordinator Delitha Marchman appreciated the opportunity, saying, “I think it’s awesome and they want to help us do our job. I think it’s great. It’s giving our supervisors a different perspective of what the job entails. It shows that the commission cares about us and that we are appreciated.”

Commissioner Garry Marchman said he hopes this is just the beginning and turns into a series of progressive classes to help make supervisors better leaders.

“We have very few supervisors and even directors who have formal management or formal supervisor training. We are just trying to give them the tools to do their job because it’s never been given to them before,” he said. “It’s to make a better Cullman County. It’s to make us better. We are joining together forces with Wallace and they are working with us to do a great thing. It’s something our people need. We want to build a great team and we want that team to have the tools needed to do their job. It’s a real positive thing that’s happening.”

Continued Marchman, “Something I want them to take away from this also is to know that we care about those guys who are out there every day that supervise five or six people. We want them to know that we care enough about them to invest in them. It’s all part of the big picture of building a team. That’s what it’s all about.”

There are currently two more groups of County employees scheduled to attend Leadership Lions classes.

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Christy Perry