Pens scribbled across notebooks, and the glow of iPads, tablets and smart phones lit random faces across the room.
Leadercast was broadcast for the first time in Cleveland last year through a partnership between local nonprofit People for Care and Learning and the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce. Over 300 people attended the first event.
It was labeled a success. Plans were made for the simulcast’s return this year. According to Friday’s numbers and appreciation on the faces of attendees, it was worth the hype.
PCL executive director Fred Garmon agreed.
“If my intuition is working, I think the people are really enjoying themselves,” he said between the second and third sessions. “They are quiet and attentive. At the breaks, we are seeing connections taking place and a lot of interactions between the people here in attendance.”
The day began at 8 a.m. with registration. The program lit to life across the screen at 9 a.m. Four sessions, several breaks and a long lunch stretched until 4:30. More than 330 people attended in an effort to learn the fine points of leadership.
Speakers included Andy Stanley, Malcolm Gladwell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Randall Wallace, Bill McDermott, Laura Schroff, Dr. Henry Cloud, Simon Sinek and Laura Bush.
Giuliana Rancic and Tripp Crosby served as on-air hosts while Phil Cook of Lee University took the reins at the local level.
Notes jotted down in notebooks and on electronic devices captured the finer points of each speech.
Assistant director of PCL Jake Stum said he enjoyed Stanley’s challenge to the audience lead beyond themselves.
“What does it mean as an individual and a leader? Who am I pouring into? Emptying your cup — I thought that was a great concept Andy talked about,” he said. “What do I have inside of me that I can pour out into other people, and am I doing that intentionally?”
Tutu surprised the audience with his infectious laughter and captured their attention with his words.
He reminded his listeners it is important to consider the work of hundreds of individuals who help a person become a leader. He said he could not be a human being without others who helped him become a person. His words acted as a reminder of the importance in interconnectedness between humans.
According to Tutu, good leaders listen not only to the voices they like the sound of, but they can see the opinions of all.
Cloud provided the audience with the picture of a poorly hand-drawn boat. He wanted them to grasp the image of the wake left behind a boat. A wake, said Cloud, is comprised of results and relationships. The two are connected and need to be balanced.
He reminded the thousands upon thousands sitting in the audience and watching via simulcast how important trust is between a leader and those who serve alongside him or her.
According to Cloud, a leader must remember several key points.
n A wake will not sustain if employees believe everything is about the leader.
n Leaders who have influence that goes beyond themselves give up one thing that is hard for leaders to release: control.
n People need to know a leader will do anything for them.
Garmon said he would like to see double the amount of attendees at next year’s Leadercast.
“This is just a great opportunity for the people of our community to take advantage of being a part of something bigger than us,” he said. “... It’s great for the people who are here, but being a part of this community, I know who is not here.”
Chamber President and CEO Gary Farlow said last year’s huge success encouraged the organizers to make the simulcast an annual event. It proved events like Leadercast could reap a strong response from the community.
He hoped those in attendance would not only apply the principles but also look for ways to get involved through service.
“We have a lot of needs in this community. Hopefully, they will go away thinking they can really make a difference. They can do something in the community, even if it is something small,” he said. “A lot of people think you have to be an Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa to really make an impact. There are a lot of little things that need to get done around here.”
Added Farlow, “Sometimes being a leader isn’t about being the guy on the stage with the microphone.”