Maybe you are like I was two years ago—looking to get executive-level training to continue my career advancement. I am a life-long learner with a master’s degree and several professional certifications from ASQ and other organizations. Throughout my career, I have gained a lot of valuable, functional knowledge and experience. But, when I was thinking about my professional development plan two years ago, I determined that I didn’t really need more functional training. Instead, my career would best benefit by me getting broader perspectives on topics like quality culture, performance excellence, risk taking, innovation, and other contemporary leadership ideas.
That’s when I found ASQ’s Emerging Quality Leader Program (EQLP). Have you heard of it? It’s a fairly new, 12-month leadership development experience targeted to high-performing, mid-career individuals who are passionate about leadership, continuous improvement, and are eager to learn. It was an ideal fit for me and it might also be a great fit for you, or someone you know.
The EQLP is structured to accelerate the transfer of executive knowledge and leadership experience to the participants. Each month, for 12 consecutive months, we were exposed to a variety of the best executives from multiple industries. They shared their insights, knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned on topics selected to help us advance in our careers. These monthly training opportunities were held at high-performing companies such as BMW, Microsoft, Siemens, and FedEx, or by teleconference. The on-site training experiences were usually two full days of interactive, facilitated workshops, while the teleconferences were focused, deep dives by thought leaders. I learned an amazing amount of valuable knowledge and honed skills that I was able to immediately apply in my quality leadership role at my company.
When I first started the EQLP, I didn’t immediately recognize that I was acquiring another very valuable asset. It was not until I needed a sounding board for one of my ideas that I realized I had a new, broad network of friends I could tap into. I found that my new friends I had been making through the EQLP program, also had a deep knowledge in some areas that I did not. I now had access to some of the best subject matter experts on any imaginable topic. Although I didn’t expect to develop such a network of passionate quality leaders going into the program, it was clearly valuable to me then, and continues to be today.
There is one EQLP memory that is especially vivid for me. During the EQLP session that was held at ASQ headquarters, we walked down a hallway that housed the pictures of ASQ’s past presidents. I beamed with pride as I pointed out the picture of my grandfather, Arthur Bender, to my fellow program participants. That was a moment that I will never forget for several reasons. First, I realized as I was standing next to his picture, that I could significantly benefit by changing the way I utilized ASQ. During my 25 years of membership, I had participated in section meetings and activities, division meetings and conferences, spoken at conferences and provided leadership in several areas. I was involved in ASQ but had not really thought about becoming more deeply involved.
In subsequent EQLP sessions, I had thought-provoking conversations with several former
and current ASQ board members about what the Society was working on and how it was
striving to grow member value. It was then that I realized that I might be able to further hone
my high-impact leadership skills by serving on the board. I am extremely proud to share that
ASQ’s Nominating Committee has added me to their board of directors slate. It will be a
tremendous honor for me to serve the Society as a board member. It will also be a neat way
to continue my grandfather’s legacy.
When I reflect back on my EQLP experience, there are several valuable takeaways that
stand out for me. But the two that stand the tallest are the strategic insights and best
practices I learned from the executives in top-performing organizations, and gaining the
expanded network of business-minded, quality leaders across multiple industries.
Learn more about the Emerging Quality Leaders Program http://asq.org/emerging-quality-leaders/