Handle your emotions under pressure, take advantage of trends, accept the unexpected and adapt to others – those are just a few of the insights into being the best leader possible that NAMA 2015 Fall Conference attendees gained.
“Our theme of ‘Reach New Peaks’ combined the location of Denver and the idea of growing professionally, to push toward career goals and challenge yourself to go all the way to the top,” said Alison Berry, HLK, conference chair. “The conference was very focused on professional growth and development and also provided intimate networking opportunities for new and veteran members of NAMA.”
Keynote speaker Bill Benjamin said that to be our personal best and improve as a leader, we need to handle emotions under pressure. Reframe that pressure moment in your mind from a crisis to a challenge or opportunity. He also offered a solid strategy for dealing with pressure in the moment – S.O.S.
- Stop – Take a moment to disconnect from what triggered the pressure, even if it’s as simple as taking a drink of water or moving your body.
- Oxygen – Slow and deepen your breath. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 2, out for 4.
- Seek information – Think about what exceptional leaders would do in the situation. Also think about others’ intentions and how you can approach them differently.
High-energy speaker Kelli Vrla threw attendees rapid-fire recommendations to stay focused and be successful amidst chaos and stress, including:
- There are two keys to motivating people: know what makes them tick and what ticks them off.
- Create a chart with your team of a) what’s working, b) what needs work, and c) what you have to do within one week.
- Accept the unexpected and be ready to roll with it.
- Be a Plan B thinker … what is the next best step?
The fact that body language is five times more powerful than words prompted a popular session with Impact Leadership Solutions’ Anna Conrad, who reviewed the do’s and don’ts when it comes to the following: handshake, eye contact, head position, stance, space. One of the most important lessons was that communicating through body language is not about you, it’s about the other person. Adapt to others to encourage them to listen to and trust you. And a fun tip: everyone knows the best stance is hands down at your sides, but it feels awkward. Holding a pen or other small object in one hand helps!
Attendees heard timely information about each of the current presidential candidates from veteran farm policy reporter Sara Wyant, who also emphasized that the rural vote can and will count next November. Speaking of rural enterprise, a panel discussion about Colorado’s growing marijuana market highlighted the current and future impact of the crop.
Other breakout sessions covered social media trends, agriculture-minded millennials and their views on sustainability, injecting humor and storytelling into your presentations, and identifying the most valuable assets for customers.
The Fall Conference is rapidly becoming another NAMA can’t-miss gathering. Make sure to get the dates for next year’s conference on your calendar and plan to meet with your friends and colleagues in Raleigh, NC on September 20-22, 2016.