Chris Ward, Missoula – Class of 2006 and Masters 2020
Interview by Velda Shelby, Arlee – Class of 2018
Chris Warden “keeps tech running smoothly” as the Vice President of Technology at the Washington Corporation in Missoula. He leads a team of 65 people who provide business support and services to all divisions. Chris and his wife Lori have two sons and enjoy a large extended family. They share family activities with four sisters who also live in Missoula. Chris recalls that his son was the first baby born to a Leadership Montana class.
His favorite memories of the Class of 2006 occurred during the Havre and Helena sessions. At the Havre session, he noticed how close they had become. He also recognized his own transformation. Up until then, Chris tried to convince others of what he thought rather than really listening to them. This shift opened his mind and helped him start a journey towards being a better listener and more collaborative leader.
Another memory was when his class exercised their leadership skills and hired a bus to bring them downtown for extended socialization. This function was not on the agenda, but the class enjoyed the extra bonding time.
Chris believes Leadership Montana’s role is to provide continuing educational experiences for leaders of all ages. The leadership skills he learned have benefitted him professionally. By striving to understand his employees, he has achieved a level of trust where they have more “comfort and courage to speak up.” He appreciates diversity and telecommutes with people in other countries. He strives to create “safe places” where people can share opposing views. Chris believes the best ideas often come when you are able to step back and let others step up and lead, something he strives to do every day.
Chris most appreciates the extremes of Montana and he loves the four seasons. To Chris, the diversity of the seasons symbolizes a Montanan. He states, “It may not be the easiest place to live but builds character and an appreciation for both tradition and change.” Chris thinks others’ point of view is “like a gift.” When we learn to work together through civil discourse, we become stronger leaders.
Chris is currently serving as the Chair of the Leadership Montana Board of Governors.