Experiencing the KWSM Leadership Program

Mar 2023

CEO Katie Wagner runs the KWSM leadership 12-week course a few times each year,kwsm leadership program and it was a privilege to have a seat this past quarter. Each week opened my eyes to a different facet of leadership and proved over and over again that anyone can be a leader, not just those with obvious job titles that imply leadership.

I learned about ways to improve my leadership skills along with what my personal leadership style is, and 12 weeks later I have some key takeaways:

Leadership Isn’t Always Loud.

Before this course, I wouldn’t have considered myself a leader in my workplace because I am not the one steering the ship. Others lead the discussions, communicate the vision for each client, and give the marching orders.

But I learned over these 12 weeks that leadership can also look like managing my time efficiently, pivoting around changes seamlessly, investing in relationships with team members, receiving feedback gracefully, and communicating with others in ways that suit them rather than myself.

These made me reconsider how I thought of myself, and instead of being intimidated by the idea of stepping into “leadership shoes” (that I was certain would not fit me very well), I could embrace the idea of being a leader.

Governing Yourself is Up to You.

#NoFilter might work for posting a beautiful sunset photo, but so many of the leadership skills that we learned about are built on a concept called Self Governance. This can be everything from body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, to how we communicate with other people, react to what is said, and more. Being aware of how I express myself was a step in the right direction, but not quite enough for good leadership, so in the KWSM Leadership Program we learned practical tips on how to control those things, so they don’t end up controlling us.

I learned I can choose to add stress to rooms I walk into, or I can keep my cool and help dissolve tension instead. I can let all my worries and insecurities parade across my face in meetings, or I can choose to show that I am actively listening and at ease. 

Turns out, everyone has influence, and it is entirely up to us whether our influence is positive or negative. The ripple effect from either choice is impactful (even if I don’t intend for it to be), so controlling how I present myself and interact with others puts that influence to work for me rather than against me.

Extreme Ownership is a Game-Changer.

Taking responsibility and being accountable are good practices in the workplace, but the week on “extreme ownership” in the KWSM Leadership Program went several leaping bounds past that point. It pointed me toward questions like:

  • What would my projects look like if I took ultimate responsibility for how they turned out? 
  • What if a task reached a roadblock and I kept asking questions and following up and posting updates until it was resolved? 
  • What if I initiated collaboration with my team to see if anyone needs support during the process?
  • What if I never waited on someone else to step up and dive into the work, but I claimed it for myself and followed through every time?

Rather than a task to accomplish, extreme ownership was a new perspective to embrace and practice daily with no room for excuses or blame games, and it could even extend outside of the workplace in the rest of day-to-day life.

11/10 Would Recommend KWSM Leadership Program.

I am so grateful that Katie gave me a seat in this course. The things I learned have given me tools to use, not only at work but in the rest of my life as well. 

In week one we wrote a leadership statement about ourselves that described who we were hoping to become after 12 weeks. This is a permanent piece of my workspace, and I read it every day because speaking the words out loud to myself is a powerful reminder that I can choose to bring my best self with me and watch her grow every day. 

The me that walked out of the course is more confident, more focused, and more myself, than the person I was 12 weeks ago.

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