Leadership NOW Conference

Ottumwa Leadership Academy students and different organizations gather to re define leadership and learn about the benefits of positive leadership.

OTTUMWA — Melissa DeLay, a keynote speaker, challenged Ottumwa Leadership Academy students and Ottumwans to redefine leadership at Thursday’s Leadership NOW conference.

DeLay focused on the importance of elevator pitches, different forms of communication and LinkedIn connections. The elevator pitches are short statements about what a person can bring to a company. She said attendees should time their statements because of short attention spans, stating “a short amount of time could go a long way.”

DeLay encouraged attendees to use the elevator pitch to their advantage and ask a pertinent question. “How would the world suffer if I didn’t get out of bed?” DeLay asked.

Proof points, DeLay said can help build self-confidence, which is a key aspect to working with others or being a leader. DeLay said people should not talk negatively about themselves or be afraid to talk about their accomplishments in the workforce.

Mark Johnson, pastor of First Lutheran Church, and Himar Hernandez, from Iowa State Extension, said they benefited from the conference.

“Anytime we have an opportunity to learn, we should take it,” Hernandez said. “I mean it would be a shame to turn that opportunity down. I’m pretty big on positive communication. I liked what she said about giving compliments, and that’s something I do love good tips on.”

“It allowed us to come up with new ways to identify ourselves,” Johnson said. “I really liked her [DeLay’s] point about don’t focus on what you do, but focus on who you are. She was very good about saying she can help people work with anyone and to improve our communication skills.”

Hernandez agreed. “It’s good to know because today it seems like things are too polarized and we should be able to work with anyone, no matter what our viewpoints are. We should communicate in a positive way.”

“I think leadership is one of those things where you cannot overlook it if you don’t have it,” Hernandez said. “Then it’s going to affect everything else in the community. I think in Ottumwa maybe at some point we had that where we didn’t provide our leaders with the education and tools necessary to make their jobs better. I think anytime we have an opportunity to empower people to do in their jobs — I think these things can apply to our families, too, and in our neighborhoods.”

“I think it starts with personal leadership,” OLA Executive Director Hollie Tometich said. “You have to be able to lead yourself well in order to lead others. Our society is begging for good leaders, great leaders and the more we take time to develop our own personal leadership, the better leaders will be no matter what community you’re in.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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