Leading the Way in Northern Michigan

"The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born; that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born."

– Warren Bennis, U.S. author and scholar

There are many programs and services available through the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, but our efforts in Leadership Development rank among our top priorities.

It was 26 years ago that we first launched our highest-profile and longest-running program known as Leadership Grand Traverse (LGT). More than 800 individuals have completed the program, including the Silver Anniversary class that graduated in December.

After an overnight opening retreat, participants are immersed in six half-day sessions over four months to learn about the region's education systems, natural resources, human services, arts and culture, regional economy and government prior to graduation. It is peer-to-peer and demonstrates the interconnectivity of each sector.

Testimonials abound about the program's benefits. Kathleen McManus, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, is among the early LGT graduates from the class of 1987. The knowledge and relationships gained through her LGT involvement more than 25 years ago continue to benefit her today.

"It really introduced me to the treasures of our community," McManus said. "It helps you understand what makes this region strong, and how it stays strong."

These Leadership Development opportunities benefit the area in numerous ways. They create professionals with a better understanding of what makes their community work. The experience and knowledge gained helps build confidence making them better employees, and participants also forge new personal and professional relationships that can last for years. The Chamber also constantly evaluates the program to keep it fresh and relevant.

More importantly, these initiatives deepen the bench of available talent to help lead our community's many nonprofit organizations, serve on municipal boards and commissions, and even run for elected office.

"There's a large time commitment with it, but you're introduced to some of the best leaders in the community," McManus said. "You can't help but pick up some of those attributes as well."

The Chamber offers several other Leadership Development initiatives. Those include our 800-member strong Young Professionals group, the CEO Roundtable, the Mark of Excellence program, Chamber eXtention, and others. Our upcoming Small Business Celebration also provides participants a chance to learn leadership skills and other best practices from business peers.

If you're interested in learning and doing more in your community, adding to your professional development, stoking an inner fire for a special cause or just give something back to a place we love, the Chamber's Leadership Development opportunities can help you get there.

Doug Luciani is president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce