Wisconsin Leadership Challenge: New group aims to promote business innovation through Wisconsin Leadership Challenge event

Paul Decker, 414-745-3919
Jim Weiss, 414-940-6555

Wisconsin business owners and managers who want their companies to benefit from creative leadership are being invited to participate in an upcoming event of the new Wisconsin Leadership Challenge.

Participants in the Feb. 10 event at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha will hear how cutting-edge Wisconsin companies identify and develop leaders in their respective organizations, and will learn practical ways to engender such leadership in their own companies.

“There are a lot of seminars and conferences on leadership, but not on how to implement the practices and processes to foster new leadership,” said one of the conference organizers, Paul Decker of Hartland.

Decker, a business speaker, trainer and consultant with local and international experience, says the conference will offer proven ways to adopt new leadership cultures within businesses and organizations.

Participants will learn more about the leadership challenges that confront businesses today, and will hear about the do’s and don’ts of leadership development, added Daniel Schroeder, PhD., of Organization Development Consultants in Brookfield, another of the event organizers.

The conference will include a leadoff panel discussion with executives from Culver’s Restaurants, Briggs & Stratton Corp. and Kahler Slater Architects. They will discuss leadership development initiatives at their respective companies, including efforts to reduce hierarchical leadership structures, to promote responsibility sharing and across-the-board accountability, and to improve communications to advance creativity and innovation.

“The event will expose participants to leaders who are assertively confronting the leadership challenge” Schroeder said.

The panel leaders will be Culver’s president and CEO Craig Culver, Briggs & Stratton’s leadership development director Tanzy Lawhorn, and Kahler Slater’s principal and “HR Guy” John Horky.

Decker said those executives have implemented leadership practices and processes that enable them to be more competitive organizations. More companies need to adopt such approaches if Wisconsin is to retain its competitiveness in the global market, Decker added.

“We are losing creative people to other states because many Wisconsin companies are hanging on to the old, hierarchical style of leadership,” he said. “We need that creativity to develop new products and processes that will enable Wisconsin companies to be more responsive to the markets they serve.”

Another of the event organizers, Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce President Patti Wallner, said the event would serve as a catalytic forum.

“Make no mistake, this is a challenge to the business leaders of our area,” Wallner said. “If we are to continue to impact our region, our industry segments and our economy we must be open to provocative dialogue that continues to open our minds to new methods and opportunities. This is a day that will change your thinking. ”

Schroeder agreed, citing some of the “significant trends” that leaders are faced with today, such as the exodus of baby boomers from the workforce, the ambivalence of younger employees regarding responsibility for the work of others, the increased mobility of employees and their desire for self-direction, along with increased competition, a greater focus on customer satisfaction and an increased emphasis on process improvement.

While many organizations realize their leadership methods are old-school, there is a reluctance to change, Decker said, adding that such reluctance is fueling the much-publicized Wisconsin brain-drain.

“I always thought southeastern Wisconsin could compete with any region of the world,” Decker said. “But we too often hang our hats on the past; it’s now time to look to the future.”

Participants in the Wisconsin Leadership Challenge will get the opportunity to focus on ways to engender new-leadership practices. Following the panel discussion, break-out sessions will detail practical methods to help organizations develop stronger team performance, leadership development and bottom-line improvement from utilizing personnel more effectively. The sessions will cover business purpose, performance, processes and people.

The gathering also will include an optional lunch program and small-group sessions for individual and organizational development.

The Feb. 10 conference, which will run from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is being sponsored by the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce and the Envision professional organization, with the media sponsorship of News/Talk 1130 WISN and Small Business Times.

Cost is $69.50 per person, with the optional lunch program and small-group sessions available for another $15.

Established in 2004, the Wisconsin Leadership Challenge is a results-driven group of business executives, professionals and community leaders seeking to improve workplace performance through innovative leadership.

For more information, go to www.wisconsinleadershipchallenge.com, or call the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce at 262-542-4249.