By Selam Zenebe
We had the pleasure of listening to two great speakers today, Myra Goodman Smith, the president and CEO of Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR), and Dr. Haywood Spangler, LMR’s Director of Education.
Leadership Metro Richmond trains and educates leaders in the Greater Richmond region. LMR’s main goal is to prepare community leaders to be great leaders. Their work began in 1980, when a group of local leaders gathered for a better understanding of how to solve issues relevant to Richmond. Over the years 2,000 leaders within the Richmond community have participated in the ten-month program. LMR bridges the differences that separate us by informing leaders. Participants sit down as a group and discuss challenging topics while listening to different perspectives. Ms. Smith talked about dialogue vs. debate: Dialogue leads to understanding and respect while she described debate as “I’m going to tell you why you’re wrong and you’re going to tell me why I’m wrong”. This results in informed leaders, and informed leaders make better decisions. LMR focuses on inclusivity s well as thinking about inclusivity while creating solutions for the community. For example, some of the focus areas are: Asking “who is missing at the table” and actively pursuing the other’s perspective.
Dr. Spangler then spoke about social networking for social change. He talked about how networking must be in person and not virtual. This will help to avoid self selection and helps officials get off their talking points, because voicing an honest opinion is more challenging to do in a group. Understanding someone’s background allows you to understand their way of thinking. LMR helps bring people together and build trust. One difficult question was how can you create conversation, I believe it’s all about knowing their background and knowing how to approach that person.
Finally, Dr. Spangler and Ms. Goodman Smith discussed measurements, and how LMR measures their progress. Ms. Smith said they evaluate the process after each session, and assess knowledge gained and discomfort changed.
For more information, you can visit their website: http://www.lmronline.org or on twitter: @lmrconnect