Phase one of the 2014 Leadership Louisville journey

Mark Bolton

Mark Bolton (LL ’14), director, Louisville Metro Department of Corrections

by Mark Bolton, Leadership Louisville Class of 2014 –

As one of some 60 members of the Leadership Louisville Class of 2014, I eagerly began the first phase of this journey at our opening retreat in Lexington at the Griffin Gate Marriott.  I must admit I was initially intimidated with the intelligent and diverse nature of my classmates and asked myself how do I measure up with all of the talented leaders in my midst; am I worthy of being here; and egos aside, I sure don’t want to say anything stupid.

Those fears were soon put to rest as we began exercises designed to promote interaction and participation. First, we played a leadership detection game which consisted of a lightening round exercise of quickly identifying a leader seated around the room. This was followed by an exercise of comical word association designed to help us quickly remember the names of our classmates. The highlight of the day was a competitive and time-sensitive group exercise to determine who could build the tallest free standing structure using pieces of spaghetti, tape, a marshmallow and a piece of string (if only my group would have had one more minute).

We ended day one with an interactive presentation at dinner by University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto.

The next morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp, society building authority Dr. Larry Peppers set the stage for the day’s Simulated Society (SIMSOC) activity. In brief, the class was divided into groups for a game with many moving parts, designed to give one a better understanding of the problems of governing society.  We grappled with issues like economic inequality, justice, diversity, trust, power dynamics and leadership as we negotiated (in my case, struggled) our way through labor-management relations, political turmoil and natural disasters. We learned that to be successful we needed to use basic social processes from cooperation and reward to threat and punishment.

I traversed through the day with an array of emotions ranging from greed to distrust, to empathy to anger. And I thought all weekend about what I should have, would have done differently. I believe we all came away from the exercise with a deeper understanding of everyday issues and local community challenges.

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