Passing the Torch

Mentorship Program Expands to Include
a Creative Leadership Development Program


By: Dan Voss, STC Fellow and Education Committee Manager
and Mike Murray, STC Fellow and LDP Lead Coach

“When you think of leadership, you are actually thinking about influence. At its core, leadership is really about the influences on the people around you and the ability to move them in certain directions to obtain established goals or objectives.”                                        –Mike Murray

It took seven months from vision to reality, but the STC Florida Chapter is proud to announce the inception of a new Leadership Development Program (LDP) named Passing the Torch. A natural extension of the community’s highly successful student mentoring program with the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) Club at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the LDP is designed to accelerate the growth of young leadership talent within the chapter.

Details on the creative new venture may be found under the “Education” tab on our chapter website, under “LDP” on the pull-down menu.

The launch of Passing the Torch coincides with the online publication of the heralded Fast-Start Leader’s Guide by Mike Murray (see related article in this edition of MtM). The product of years of work on Mike’s part, beginning when he was serving as a Society director and recently completed, the FSLG is an integral part of the LDP.

The LDP journey began last fall when Chapter President Alex Garcia asked the Education Committee to consider the possibility of creating a “Phase 2” to the student mentoring program focusing on accelerating the professional development of former students who have gone on to assume leadership positions within the chapter.

The task fell to us, Dan Voss and Mike Murray, to draw up a blueprint for the LDP, submit it to the Administrative Council for approval, identify the LDP “Coaches” and the “Rising Stars” they will coach, and implement the program.

To do so, we have paired five veteran chapter leaders with four young “Rising Stars,” all UCF graduates and former mentees (as well as mentors in two cases), to the next wave of Tech Comm students at UCF. To make the pairings, we asked the Coaches and Rising Stars to submit an application including a self-profile ranking themselves on , and dividing them into three groups of six: greatest strengths, secondary strengths, and growth areas.

We then made the pairings to achieve an optimum match of the Coaches’ greatest leadership strengths with the Rising Stars’ leadership growth areas. While the personal data upon which the pairings are based, like that in the mentoring program, is confidential, the pairings themselves may now be announced. As an informal program, the LDP has no specific timeframe, although the intent this year is for the Coaches to guide young chapter officers through their presentations at STC Summit 2018 next month and then on through the 2018-2019 chapter year.

LDP Coach Karen Lane works with Rising Star Crystal Brezina on the Summit presentations. Photo by Dan Voss

As Lead Coach, Mike Murray will meet and communicate with all four Rising Stars periodically. His focus is to help them operationalize the concepts of the FSLG—particularly the importance of treating STC, albeit a volunteer organization, the same way you would a business.

The focus of the LDP is both strategic and tactical, both philosophical and practical. The annual Leadership Retreat in July—initiated by Mike Murray in 2003—focuses on strategic planning to establish the community’s objectives for the year and identify the activities to realize those objectives. The monthly Administrative Council (AdCo) meetings focus on tactical execution of the planned activities.

The method and frequency of communication in the LDP is up to the four Coach/Rising Star pairs. This is not a theoretical exercise. The intent is to ground the coaching in the “real-world” activities for which the Rising Stars are responsible as chapter officers.

With that in mind, the 1-on-1 pairings match Chapter President Alex Garcia with STC Fellow Karen Lane; Chapter Treasurer Bethany Aguad with STC Fellow and former Society Treasurer W.C. Wiese; Chapter Secretary Crystal Brezina with STC Fellow Dan Voss; and Chapter Communication Manager/Newsletter Co-Editor Nick Ducharme with STC Senior Member and immediate past Chapter President Debra Johnson.

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