Academy Spotlight: Capstone Event – My Journey Toward Leadership Mastery

robert-calabreseRobert Calabrese, Principal and co-founder of Business Visions Group, LLC:  

Tell us about yourself, your firm and the role you have played in the development of the ACC NCR Leadership Academy:
I have a passion for helping corporate leaders, managers, work teams, and service teams identify their core strengths and successfully apply them to their aspirations and strategic goals.  In particular, I enjoy addressing the issues of managing personal change, team effectiveness, presentation excellence, effective communication, and client service, as well as doing professional coaching.  Prior to establishing Business Visions Group, I was Director of Merrill Lynch’s Corporate Leadership & Development Department, where I worked closely with executive management teams -- including the legal department -- to help create change in work groups and business divisions in order to differentiate themselves as positive cultures seeking to deepen employee engagement.

In 2016, I was hired by the ACC NCR Board to work with the chapter to create the Leadership Academy.  Together, we engaged stakeholder groups in activities that helped us determine what skills the Academy should teach.  We also created the structure of the Academy, selecting a nine-month cohort program, which my experience has shown is the most effective way to teach and reinforce the learning.  I then drafted the curriculum for each of the Modules.  ACC NCR then asked me to facilitate the Academy program and to work with the faculty members as they each developed their presentations and materials so as to ensure they had the right focus and built on (but did not repeat) the lessons of the previous Module(s).  It has been so rewarding to see this project through from start to "finish" -- and to then present the Capstone session.

What was the focus of this capstone event?
We asked each of the Fellows to prepare a formal presentation that would describe their personal learning journey as part of the Academy.  What did they set out to discover, learn, and develop for themselves as a leader, and how have those goals been accomplished.  In addition, we wanted them to explain their plans for on-going development since the Academy is just a step in this continuing process.  They would then present it during the day to a group of other Academy Fellows and invited guests from the ACC NCR leadership.

I also shared with the Fellows my process for preparation to make a presentation -- to get into the right mindset and bring my best communicator to the situation.  Finally, we discussed a model for presenting effective feedback that gave the Fellows information about how their presentations resonated with their audience, and suggestions the audience had for what they would have liked to have "more" or "less" of in that presentation.

From your perspective, which aspects of the event resonated most directly with Fellows?
The event got them to reflect on their journey and take a careful look at the connections among the lessons-learned from the Modules.  All too often, we are running from one task to another and it's difficult to carve out the time for reflection that really leads us to internalize important lessons.  Of course, the other significant aspect of this event was hearing about how others in the Class experienced their versions of the journey -- both because of the way their experiences were similar or different from their own, but because it solidified the connections that the Fellows had built with others in the class.


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