Learning to lead; learning to serve
Diocesan staff, parishioners, graduate from
two-year ‘Tending the Talents’ program
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
To be a better servant, one must learn to be a better leader.
Two years ago, the Diocese of Dodge City embarked on a journey called “Tending the Talents,” designed to help participants recognize how they could be stronger leaders, and thus better servants.
The program culminated Aug. 2 with a ceremony at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City in which dozens of participants received a certificate of graduation. The program was presented by the Catholic Leadership Institute, which had recently completed the program for priests, “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” in the Diocese of Dodge City. Bishop John Brungardt, who had been named bishop but not yet installed when the program began, said he was thrilled when he learned that the diocese was utilizing the program. He and several other priests had recently taken part in “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” while serving in the Diocese of Wichita.
“This intensity, this sacrifice has paid off to help you help us as a diocese, as a people of faith,” he told those gathered, “with our leadership, with our following the model: the image of Jesus Christ the good shepherd, the top leader, our example of leading as a servant.”
The program included several day-long classes held throughout the nearly two-year period in which participants, including the staff of the Catholic chancery, Catholic Social Service, and parishioners and staff of local parishes, were asked to look deeply at their personal strengths and weaknesses. Participants were taught, often through group activity, to begin to understand character traits of those around them, so that they could react with more empathy and better leadership skills.
With the help of CLI staff, as well as Bishop Brungardt and Father Robert Schremmer, Vicar General, participants listed their Key Responsibility Areas for their specific job, and realized -- some for the first time -- just how many hats they wear.
Were they wearing too many hats? Should they be delegating responsibilities to others? Are they managing their time wisely?
“When Father Jim Dieker read all of my key responsibilities, he told me, ‘You must delegate!’” said Sister Rocio Malonado, MCMI, in her delightful Latino accent. “And then I started delegating! And that’s a good job,” she said with a broad smile. “And it saves time and work.”
Participants took part in exercises designed to teach them to create an ideal team and an ideal environment for accomplishing sometimes daunting tasks in their parish or Catholic
Amy Falcon, a social worker with Catholic Social Service, found herself utilizing the training in her office long before she graduated from the program.
“It was very beneficial for my role because, somewhere along this journey we were divided into teams at our office. … We’ve had to write our KRAs and goals for our teams,” she said. “It has really helped us to gain focus and see where we need to work on things so that we can keep our programs growing, keep them alive. Because, in the end, if we are able to do that, we can serve more people -- which is what we’re there to do.”
“…As Tending the Talents continued,” noted Deanna Jones, pastoral minister at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “I think I really learned a lot more not only about myself -- that God really did entrust me with particular gifts and abilities -- but also the realization that the parish that I work for is amazing. And the staff which I work with is incredible. And the diocese that we are all a part of is bearing so much fruit and there’s so much excitement to be found here.
“…Beyond the KRAs and the Smart Goals, sponsoring a team and all of those formalities, the more important thing that I got from this program was that God gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it,” Jones said. “And there are a lot of wonderful things ahead. And realizing that, and being able to surrender that into God’s hands really means that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It just makes me very thankful to be here and to see where God leads us in the future.”