Markon’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) kicked off the first session for its class of 2022 on April 23, 2021. The Markon LDP is our company's internal training, geared towards development and refinement of mid-level leaders and existing leadership team members. Created in 2013, the program’s goals include ensuring a common thread of knowledge, as well as promoting our core values, culture and the Markon brand.
With the support of a bevy of internal and external resources, our facilitators Leigh Valudes and Steve Genn break the program into 3 core areas, as displayed in the Markon LDP Leadership Arc, leading yourself; leading others and teams; and leading vision and strategy. The first session focused on leading ourselves.
What Can We Learn About Leadership from Competitive Running?
We started the morning with an inspiring and engaging welcome message from Markon’s President and CEO, Matt Dean, who has been an avid runner for many years. Matt explained his 3 different types of metrics:
- Experience metrics: he has logged 37 consecutive years of running 500 miles annually, racking up a combined 62,000 miles, or enough to circle the globe 2.5 times
- Success metrics: Matt placed 12th out of 21,000 in the Marine Corps Marathon and 100th out of 30,000 in the Boston Marathon – his most cherished running metrics
- Humility metrics: Matt went from being #1 on the track and field team at his high school to #55 out of 56 runners on the team at Virginia Tech – a reminder to stay humble
He explained that these three types of metrics are also important in business and leadership. Another favorite lesson that he shared with us is that in leadership, like running, success is 60% mental (pressure, the expectation to lead, inspire, etc.), 30% physical (developing a strategy, understanding how to leverage concepts like The Primes to get better, etc.), and 10% other (knowing how to navigate through the hard days and recharge on the easy days, etc.).
Break Barriers, But Stay Humble
Matt shared with us two examples of runners who aimed for goals that were considered physically impossible at the time – for Roger Bannister it was the 4-minute mile, and for Eliud Kipchoge it was the 2-hour marathon. Each of the two runners posited that these limitations were mental, rather than physical, and were able to leverage hard work and a lot of grit to break down barriers and achieve the impossible.
Matt explained that accomplishing something special like Bannister and Kipchoge requires the willingness to put oneself out there and risk failure – qualities that are critical to great leadership. He went on to say that to successfully lead through failures, one must embrace humility and be willing to talk openly and transparently with team members about the failure and the path forward.
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Getting to Know Each Other, and Ourselves
Another highlight of the day was reviewing our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory results, as a critical component of leading oneself is understanding oneself. Markon’s certified Myers-Briggs practitioner, Steve Genn, first explained the basis, history, and applications of the Myers-Briggs® framework. We then learned about the differences between personality and behavior before digging deeper into our personality types and the detailed insights offered via the Step II Interpretive Reports that were custom developed for each participant.
Finally, we rolled up our sleeves and participated in a series of activities that leveraged break-out rooms based on each of the components of our personality types. The activities were an interesting way to not only get to know our fellow classmates better, but also to better understand differing points of view and personality types. For example, the introvert and extrovert groups each took turns asking questions about what makes the other “tick” and how they see and approach the world around them.
Additional activities ensued to help compare the remaining personality types and preferences – sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving. It was especially interesting to observe the varying degrees of each personality type and see where those of us who were technically in the same “groups” diverged from each other.
These exercises offered invaluable insights into how to be better aware of differences between ourselves and others, acknowledge the value of those differences, practice new behaviors, engage with those who are different from ourselves, and incorporate different perspectives into our interactions. In better understanding ourselves, we also learned how our own preferences can impact others and that there are different ways of seeing any given situation.