Leadership Perspectives | 02.03.21
Thayer Leadership Program: Leading the Path to Excellence
The ability to effectively lead a team is more important now than ever, with ever-changing work environments and team needs. BISA has teamed up with Thayer Leadership at West Point to offer a new and unique virtual leadership development program. The Thayer Leadership program provides a cohort-based, digital environment for participants to engage in a series of virtual learning opportunities designed to elevate their leadership ability and impact. BISA spoke to some of the program’s attendees as the event kicked off in January to find out what they are most looking forward to as the program continues.
“Perspective, insight, and experience” is what Daniel Pellegrino of Webster Investments finds valuable. “I look forward to sharing and hearing ideas. Anytime a high-quality institution pulls together leaders from around the country, great things can happen.”
Randy Darden of Wells Fargo expressed interest in gaining insight from experts on proven leadership practices. “I want to be a better leader for my team and my company,” he said. “With all of the changes going on in my company, and upon taking a new role 18 months ago, much of my attention is focused on accomplishing short-term objectives. I want to get better at leading my team to focus on longer-term objects and inspiring my team to do the same.”
Esteban Zuno of U.S. Bancorp Investments believes the Thayer Leadership program offers a unique perspective to leadership training. “The pre-work that we were asked to do provided insights on the history of leadership in the United States Army,” he said. “We learn how these principles can be applied to us as leaders in the private sector, and in our personal lives. Many leadership programs and books focus on leadership principals that you apply to others, whereas this program will have me focus on myself, my experiences, and my values as a leader.”
Leading by Example
Last week, Brigadier General Becky Halstead lead an inspiring presentation on the significance of leading a values-driven team and developing a strong leadership philosophy in her capstone session, “Leading a Values-Driven Learning Organization.” Halstead shared her leadership journey and how to lead with purpose and perspective.
The capability to lead by example was top of mind during Halstead’s session. “I love that this program focuses on the individual leader and my hope is that I will come out of this better prepared to lead,” said Zuno of U.S. Bancorp. “You must lead yourself to lead others, and I look forward to spending the time making sure that I truly build out my leadership philosophy and push myself to be the best version of me. Developing this and sharing my experience with my team will help me be a more effective leader for my organization.”
He continued, “Effective leadership will always be about helping people. Regardless of the task or objective, knowing how to lead with purpose is critical. Leadership will continue to challenge me in many ways. How I work through these challenges with my peers and my team will have an impact on them, their families, and the organization. I want to continue to refine my skills around leading people so that we can increase our impact and contribution. Learning from my mistakes and failing forward is another lesson that is highlighted through the program. Making sure that I can take these moments to learn how to fail forward and create meaningful change will be another skill/area of growth that I will be focusing on throughout the program.”
New Ways to Lead and Learn
The Thayer Leadership program integrates numerous ways for participants to practice team building. Pellegrino said that hearing how others approach difficult situations is a valuable benefit of the program, as is developing and attaining useful skills such as ways to take more control over personal leadership growth. “Organic growth is good, but I know there is more I can do. I owe it to myself and my team. Additionally, I want to talk about leading high performers (top producers).”
Darden pointed out that learning to lead in challenging times was also something he is hoping to take away. “I’m eager to understand how to lead more effectively in a COVID-operating and post-COVID operating environment.”
“In addition to learning the formal lessons provided,” Zuno said, “I am looking forward to engaging and collaborating with other industry and BISA leaders. BISA brings great content throughout the year and at the annual conference. To work side-by-side with other leaders is a fantastic opportunity. I intend to learn from them as much as I plan to learn from the Thayer program.”
As the program comes to an end in February, participants are eager to put these newly developed and defined leadership skills into play.
“We should never stop learning.” Zuno said. “When presented with the opportunity to engage in the Thayer program, I knew that it would have a positive impact for my personal and professional development so long as I put this into practice. This was a commitment that they stressed of all participants; we must put this into action. This mindset paired with the philosophy of the program is what made me interested to join.”
And as reflected within the Thayer Leadership program, Pellegrino stated, “Leadership is what I strive to accomplish each day. The craft is never perfected.”