As you may have read in our previous blogs, Olivia Hill and I are participating in Leadership Niagara and Leadership Buffalo, respectively.
Each month, we’ll give our perspective on the revitalization of our community and some issues we’re still facing.
The March session of Leadership Niagara was right in my wheelhouse – it was a cross-border session! We spent the day with this year’s Leadership Niagara Ontario class discussing cross-border collaboration in the morning and managing healthy tensions in the afternoon.
Although I work with Canadian businesses and encounter cross-border issues regularly, I realized that there’s still so much to learn. We studied the struggles of businesses trying to take advantage of Canadian customers and tourism and tried to brainstorm solutions. These discussions brought awareness to hurdles we didn’t know existed in various industries involved in cross-border business.
My favorite part of the day, however, was “Leaders for Leaders”, a Canadian based team development group, teaching us about healthy tension and “polarity management” in the workplace. They explained not every problem in the workplace can be solved. Instead, tensions exist in the workplace and leaders need to learn to manage these tensions.
It was a different way of looking at “problem-solving” in the workplace that I know will help me be a better leader in my organization. I’m excited to use the tools from that discussion to work through different challenges we face here at Invest Buffalo Niagara.
Our Leadership Buffalo day session for March was focused on education.
In the morning, we heard a presentation on the Buffalo Public School system. Changes to a community school system, one that engages parents and members of the public in after school and weekend programming has changed the success of the district significantly. BPS has also implemented a new “education bargain” that has been more transparent about expectations from every person involved in a student’s education—including the parents.
Throughout the day, we learned about the differences between public, private, and charter education. I was somewhat unfamiliar with the charter system, specifically, and so I found a lot of value in hearing their challenges in funding, retaining teachers, and more. We listened to a panel with an administrator from each type of school in which they debated differences and empathized with each other’s challenges—many of which were the same.
Our program also broke into smaller groups, touring local schools. I was able to tour Burgard High School, which was very appropriate and impactful to see. I’ve toured the Northland Workforce Training Center several times, seeing up close advanced manufacturing training at the post-high school level.
At Burgard, I was able to see many of the same skillsets being taught at an even earlier age, helping to fill our region’s advanced manufacturing talent pipeline.
The day was very impactful and educational, and I’m looking forward to April!