Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Creating a Servant Leadership Culture


These are the values of O’Brien Dental Lab. 

At O’Brien, the leadership team lives these values. These values are not mere words – these values are alive at O’Brien. These values are evident in the actions and interactions that the leadership team extends to its customers, to each other, and to their team.
In 2018, O’Brien Dental Lab, specializing in restorations and custom implants, brought 16 of their leaders to work with Terri Houde, corporate trainer for Extended Learning. Their goal was to create a two-day, customized leadership retreat focused on Servant Leadership. 
“It was a great team building experience, forcing us to get out of our comfort zone and be totally honest with each other,” said participant Lee Montgomery.
Before training began, Terri emphasized the importance in understanding that Servant Leadership is more than a philosophy – it is a practice. And that practice of a leader, she said, develops the culture of an organization. 
In the training, participants focused on exploring the role of a leader, the power of being authentic, and the path to building a Servant Leadership culture. Participant Tony Megale summarized his experience after reflecting on their time with Terri.
“The question you have to ask your heart is: Are you here to serve or be served?” Tony said.
Everything from productivity, communication, and collaboration can be improved by Servant Leadership principles because a servant leader’s first practice is always to serve.
Karli Luksch, Senior Team Leader at O’Brien, has seen more efficiency company-wide since their retreat with Terri. Among other things, she has noticed its positive impact on the manner in which they serve their customers.
“We are able to discuss issues within the frameworks we learned and come up with solutions faster for various situations that come up on a daily basis,” she said. “It was valuable to have a cohesive message and philosophy articulated to the group and to work through the exercises that helped grow us individually and as a team.”
Terri’s focus during the facilitation helped lead O’Brien participants to their own conclusions of who they are and how they will be.
“Servant Leadership is a way of being,” Karli said. “You have to believe it on a personal and internal level. It is a mindset that requires continual growth and challenging yourself to be in a constant state of getting better. I do more, to get more, so I can give more.”
With her knowledge and passion for teaching, Terri inspired another participant, Mike Wilson, with her willingness to be vulnerable with the group as they explored their own selves.
“She created an atmosphere where team members felt empowered to share their thoughts and concerns with respect to what our company's challenges are and how we can improve.”
Since Terri’s training with O’Brien, the team is still putting the tools learned to use and building upon those tools for continued improvement on a holistic level.

*This content was written for Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning.

Sprinkle the Good

Jolene Wilson enrolled at Linn-Benton Community College to further her career goals, as many others do. At the time, over a decade ago, her plan was to become a Dental Hygienist.
After her time at LBCC, she moved away and traveled, following her husband who was in the Navy. She was exposed to new cultures and places, taking note of new flavors and foods. 
She had always eaten healthy but began to take initiative in cooking healthier for her family. With more time at home after her firstborn, Jolene became more involved in baking.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “So, I started baking cakes.” 
Then, she started making sprinkles.
“It’s a labor of love; it’s a lot of mixing and processing and dyeing,” she said.
After years of practicing her craft and attending a culinary academy in Alabama, Jolene’s family moved back to Albany. In 2017, Natural Sprinkles Co. was introduced as a booth at the farmers market with baked goods adorned with handmade, all-natural sprinkles.
When Jolene realized the complexity of running a business, she knew she needed guidance. She went back to LBCC where her journey had begun years before. There, she found the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
At the SBDC, Jolene was paired with Anne Whittington, advisor for over 12 years. With Anne, a seasoned business owner, Jolene found the expertise she had been looking for.
“Anne really helped me work through my fears of small business,” Jolene said. 
Anne helped her figure out how to price her products. She encouraged her to know how long it took to make those products. She introduced resources Jolene would need to build her business, and she introduced people in the community she should be connected with.
“I met with her consistently each week,” Jolene said. “It’s been really great to have Anne in my back pocket.”
Through the SBDC, Jolene even got Quickbooks training to better manage her bottom line. 
After years of working her booth at the farmers market and building a customer base, she was ready for a storefront. 
After six months of searching, Jolene found the future home of Natural Sprinkles. Everything from plumbing to electric to tearing down walls needed to be done and the SBDC helped find reliable contractors for the job.
It took a year to complete the remodel, transforming it into a light and bright place that pops with color and comfort. The grand opening came in November of 2018. 
“We’re looking at this as an investment in the community,” Jolene said. “After leaving our service in the military, this is kind of our extended service to the community.”

*This content was written for Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning.

Making the roads safer, one student at a time

Leah Hansen is a certified instructor for LBCC’s Driver Education program. Each instructor has their own reason they teach safe driving to teens, but for Leah, her passion is personal. 

The privilege that driving allows has been something Leah has appreciated for most her life. She spent many years as a Corvallis city bus driver and often considered becoming a driving instructor. But, it wasn’t until a fateful event nearly a decade ago in which she finally found the motivation to start teaching.

Charles Simmons, her former husband, was a lawyer in Eastern Oregon. He was leaving for an early deposition in court on a September morning in 2009. He had driven almost 100 miles that morning and was only 9 miles away from his destination when he fell asleep behind the wheel. When his car crossed the center line, he hit a truck pulling a livestock trailer and died on impact.

“Even though he had his seatbelt on and his airbag deployed,” Leah said, “he was in a tiny car and the vehicle he hit was very heavy.”

Although all the factors surrounding his accident are unknown, what Leah does know is that he worked long hours, often on little sleep. With many hours of preparing and planning for his cases, she believes his routine of limited sleep caught up to him.

“Safe driving is something I am super passionate about,” she said, “because obviously, his accident was horrible, and I don’t want it to happen to someone else if I can help it.”

In the classes Leah teaches, she focuses not only on the rules of the road and how to safely operate a vehicle, but she also reiterates personal preparedness and safety.

“Drowsy driving is the same as driving impaired, and far more pervasive, actually,” she said. ”And teenagers are especially apt to drowsy driving because their lives are very full.”

With school, work, sports, homework and social obligations, teenagers need more sleep than most adults and making sure her students understand the importance of staying alert while driving is a personal mission for Leah.

“They watch a video about drowsy driving and then I show them the pictures,” she said. “The response has been positive every time. They’re obviously very engaged because it happened to someone they know, which is me.”

For the last four years, she has been teaching about 25 students a term. After Leah’s students get to know her throughout each term, during the final weeks of class she shows them a photo of her former husband’s car at the scene of the accident. 
With many of the students approaching her after class and thanking her for sharing her story, Leah looks forward to each new term when she gets to meet and educate her next cohort of young drivers.

*This content was written for Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning.

Plying with the Palatte

Mark Allison has been a Community Education instructor at LBCC for 25 years, a recipient of the 2003 Teacher of the Year award, and an accomplished artist.
The son of a photographer and a civil engineer, his life has been largely influenced by aesthetics, composition, and creation. The first time he sat at an easel, made by his parents, he was 5 years old. That was the start of what would become his lifelong passion.
His Open Studio class, one of several he teaches through Community Education, is designed for beginning to advanced artists to create freely with Mark’s guidance when requested.
On an April morning, 15 people came to create, ages spanning from teenager to retiree. One painted a portrait of his sister’s dog for her birthday. Another painted his son’s ‘63 Chevy for his birthday. Someone else painted a landscape from a photo on her phone. Some used pencils, some used paint, some used charcoal. 
A group of students gathered around Mark who began a color intensity exercise. On a piece of paper, he showed them different styles of applying paint. He discussed how the oils on your hands affect the paper, how the dampness of your brush will react on paper, and how a paint stroke will look based on the pressure applied.
“Working with water is kind of like driving in traffic - you have to kind of hurry along,” he told the students. “You have to carefully access the dampness of the paper.”
He showed onlookers how to mix colors to make other colors, and recommended colors to use or not use. He cautioned of things to consider when choosing colors. He explained in poetic detail why he prefers some colors over others.
“The color yellow is for relaxation, often used by color therapists,” he told them. “Blue reduces heart rate so it’s a great color for a bedroom. Red does the opposite.”
Looking at the palette in front of him, he pointed to a vibrant red.
“The color of love,” he said, “it just opens your heart looking at it.” 
Around the classroom, Mark displayed paintings used as visuals to show techniques he referred to. Many of the works used Cubism, a technique made famous by Pablo Picasso, where geometric shapes create two-dimensional images. 
“I like using sharp edges,” he told his students “Jagged and sharp edges get both right and left brain to look at them.”
Since the left side of the brain wants to create order and the right side does not, Mark explained the tidiness of the geometric shapes that create abstract images gives the brain both order and chaos, attracting both sides to engage.
Mark encouraged his students to understand the rules of painting; why things are taught the way they are.
“Once you learn the rules you can then start to challenge them,” he told the class. “But first, you learn the rules.”
With many accomplishments as an artist in his own right, Mark was selected to design the 2009 Fall Festival poster and has received a Purchase Award from Oregon State University for his works featuring agriculture. 

*This content was written for Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning. 

Gifts of Sensitivity

Catherine VanWetter grew up feeling like she was different than those around her. She was often told she was “too sensitive” or “too fragile” and that she needed to “get over it” when things bothered her more than others thought it should. She spent a lot of time punishing herself for feeling too much.

Catherine now knows she is different. And she knows she does feel more than others. She has made it her life’s work to educate people about her gifther gift of sensitivity. 

As is 15-20% of the population, Catherine is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). HSPs have neurological systems designed to feel more than the other 80%. They have heightened sensitivity about oneself, others, and their environment.

“They are shamans and medicine people of indigenous peoples,” Catherine said. “They are the peacemakers, the counselors, those that are intuitive and empathetic.” 

Catherine has dedicated her career working in community mental health so that she can help other HSPs.

“Being sensitive in my family was not really a blessing,” she said. “All of my training was self-preservation and to find like-minded people.”

And that she has done.

“When sensitives are in a room together it’s like we’ve all written the other’s story,” Catherine said. ”Our stories aren’t that different.”

In the 30 years she has worked in the Corvallis area, Catherine has had many clients who battle depression and contemplate suicide. She has found about 75% of the people she has worked with are HSPs. 

“We live in a culture that is sometimes less than kind to people who are timid, kind, and emotional,” she said. “And those people might find it hard to fit in.”

HSPs tend to feel the mood of those around them, taking on emotions that are not their own. Because of this, it can be hard for HSPs to decipher if what they are feeling is their own or someone else’s. 

Catherine has learned that depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and isolation are side effects of being an HSP. This is because HSPs have heightened physical, mental, and emotional responses to stimuli, making them overwhelmed by the amount of information they must process. They find it difficult to quiet the sounds, smells, lights, and other stimuli around them. 

“When most people have 10 fingers to feel with, imagine the HSP has 50,” Catherine said.

She believes that many people choose to suppress or ignore their sensitivity because our society employs the mindset that we must be strong and thick-skinned.

“It is my mission to educate people, to empower them to educate others, and create a culture where sensitives can live in alignment,” she said.

In her work, Catherine helps HSPs and their families create a proper balance in their day which might include meditation, creative arts, walks in nature, or yoga. She helps HSPs and their loved ones learn which environments serve them best. 

This fall, Catherine will teach a class through Community Education called HSP: Thriving in the Workplace, focusing on how to create functional and welcoming working environments for the HSP.

*This content was written for Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning.