Leadership Montana Classroom Reflection: Indigenous Immersion Initiative Reflection: John Morrison, Helena, Class of 2005 and III 2022
Confluence Spotlight: Sidney
May 31, 2023
Masters Class Session: Abby Majerus
July 31, 2023


Jackie Atkins, Bozeman, Class of 2022 and Masters 2023

Masters Class Reflection

Session 4

Jackie Atkins, Bozeman, Class of 2022 and Masters 2023

Self-reflection. Awareness. Discomfort. Connection. Intentional. Practiced. Wholehearted. Humor. Transformed.

These words come to mind as I reflect on my experience with the Leadership Montana Master Class in 2023.  We had a year where lifelong friendships were made.  We had a year where big laughter often broke up our days.  We had a year of deep learning from Jen Davis, Casey Wolfe, Dr. Jerry Evans, Chantel Schieffer, Lanny Hubbard, Pat Hughes, and many guest speakers and community leaders.  We had a year where we were pushed to be uncomfortable.  We had a year where tissue boxes were eagerly sought.  You might read this and think, why would anyone choose to enter into a program that promises great discomfort and tears, but the juice was SO WORTH THE SQUEEZE!

The Master Class kicked off with the nerve-racking process of asking for feedback from our teams on the frequency with which we do various leadership practices.  As Jen Davis reminded us over and over, feedback is a gift.  It is also a pretty vulnerable process to open yourself up to hear how you actually show up for your teams.  This process held a mirror to our leadership behaviors and helped us see what leadership practices we do frequently and what leadership practices could use more intentional attention.  We had the good fortune of one last leadership session with Dr. Jerry Evans at Big Sky.  Jerry and Jen walked us through our feedback with care, candor, and humor. They helped us internalize this feedback gift and find ways to adjust our behaviors to incrementally make small improvements going forward.

As the next sessions unfurled, we learned about the five leadership practices taught through the Leadership Challenge framework.  Authors James M Kouzes and Barry Z Posner developed the “blueprint” for extraordinary leaders as people who practice 1.) Modeling the Way, 2.) Inspiring a Shared Vision, 3.) Challenging the process, 4.) Enabling others to act, and 5.) Encouraging the heart.  Each practice has a list of behaviors we do when we exhibit these leadership practices.  Through the mirror offered by our team’s feedback, we self-reflected on our strengths and specific ways we could incrementally improve our leadership practices.

The word incremental was emphasized over and over. Big changes for many of us would be hard to carry out, but small incremental changes over the long haul is so doable. Consider an example of doing nothing or getting 1% better each day over a year.

Doing Nothing At All vs. Making small, consistent efforts over a year.

(1.00)365 = 1  vs. (1.01)365  = 37.7

If you can improve by 1% each day over a year, you will have made a 37-fold improvement by the end of the year.  Small steady change builds to monumental improvement over time.

I used to use time or lack of time as a regular reason to not do something.  After reading the book, 168 Hours: You have more time than you think by Laura Vanderkam, I changed my relationship with time. Vanderkam highlights we all have 168 hours in our week.  For easy math, let’s assume I work 50 hours and sleep 50 hours, I am still left with nearly 70 hours in a week.  Certainly, family, volunteering, keeping a household running, exercise, etc. eat into some of this but still, I was left wondering where my time went.

I have changed how I think about time now.  Instead of saying, I don’t have time to do a thing, I ask if the thing is worth doing and if I should be the one to do it.   If the answer to these questions is yes, I find the time.  The trick with this approach is to prioritize time to think, set intentions, and make it happen.

In the Master Class, we prioritized time at the end of every session to think about our leadership challenges and what’s the next right thing to do, set goals with dates, and had teams to hold us accountable.  The Master Class provided a framework for clarity and building small incremental efforts into measurable improvements. The Master Class shed light on my uncertainties and built a system to make the uncertain a little more certain.

The deep connection I built with my fellow master classmates will stand the test of time.  The lessons taught in the classroom were applicable and wise.  Seeing more of our lovely state was a true treat.  But the highlight for me is that I felt transformed through this process.  It was a year of great discomfort where painful uncertainty frequented my life but with the support of the LMT master class, I broke through with great personal growth on the other side.

Thank you Leadership Montana!  The Master Class was life-changing!