Leadership Montana Program Reflection: Tim Guardipee (Billings) & Leslie Southworth (Lewistown), Class of 2022
Masters Class Session: Kelly Cresswell
February 28, 2022
Flagship Session: Molly Davidson
March 31, 2022


Leslie Southworth (Lewistown), Class of 2022

Session 4 | Lewistown, MT

Cohort 2: Leslie Southworth, Class of 2022, Lewistown

Our 4th gathering brought everyone to Central Montana under the clear blue winter skies, a truly beautiful setting to dive deeper into our conversations about gracious space. I am of course biased being born, raised, and residing in Lewistown. I was especially eager to dive into listening and learning about gracious spirit. In today’s world where it feels like the challenges are overwhelming and never-ending, it seemed many of us are seeking a way to have better conversations both in our work and those we interact with within our personal lives.

I couldn’t help but think about the background for our conversations on Cultivating the Spirit of Gracious Space. Central Montana is surrounded by the Judith, Snowy, and Belt mountains yet also borders the edge of the Montana prairie, a backdrop representative of vast geographic differences. It was in this setting where both cohorts of the current Flagship class were able to witness the power of gracious space and experience it firsthand as two organizations with opposing views shared the same space for a conversation. The conflict in values between those in the conversation was intense, yet we learned as they listened and responded to one another. We learned about the organizations and the land, witnessed masterful moderation, some enjoyed it while others did not, but we all learned something and that is the beautiful thing about this experience.

It is only through this amazing organization, Leadership Montana, these organizations trusted enough to share in the most vulnerable way so we all could learn. Amazing! The experience lent deeply to our conversations the next three days about intention, compassion, and curiosity. About the responses or behaviors, we display when our values are in or out of alignment and how our difference in values are often the root of conflict. Although there were big conversations in the room about important topics such as diversity and wage gaps, it was a conversation about cowboy hat etiquette that perfectly reflected the lesson on conflict.  Curiosity about the other led to understanding amongst the group. Be curious, as there is so much more we all could learn.