Leadership’s Calling® is based on the same design, content and format of the two SmithBucklin leadership learning programs Henry Givray created and continues to facilitate. The SmithBucklin Leadership Learning Forum is for high-performing employees at various levels within the company, which is the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. The SmithBucklin Leadership Institute is for board members of client associations. Both are intensive, high-impact, multi-month programs that expose participants to leadership concepts, principles and guidelines in order to stimulate and inspire individual learning and personal growth. The ideals and rationale that led to the creation and launch of the two SmithBucklin leadership programs have driven Henry’s commitment to offer Leadership’s Calling® to the business and professional communities at large beginning in 2017. Below is the background story of the SmithBucklin Leadership Learning Forum and SmithBucklin Leadership Institute which officially launched in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

As a lifelong student of leadership, Henry recognized the integral role that leadership plays in ensuring an organization’s enduring success and vitality. According to Henry, no playbooks, simple formulas or prescriptions exist for how to become a true leader. He also understands that you cannot teach leadership. However, you can teach leadership’s timeless principles, and you can offer insights, share experiences and provide tools so others can learn through a process of active engagement and self-discovery. It was these tenets, among others, that influenced and guided Henry’s decision to create both the SmithBucklin Leadership Learning Forum and the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute.

An essential part of Henry’s job as a CEO was to enable the achievement of desired annual results. At SmithBucklin that includes client satisfaction and retention, employee engagement and retention, new client acquisition and company performance, among others. But as a CEO who also aspired to be a true leader, his overarching goal was to build a great, enduring company. One of the foundational requirements in the journey toward greatness was to build leadership capacity and performance throughout the company – in other words, grow leaders from within.

For several years Henry thought about how best to grow leaders at many levels within SmithBucklin in a way that would be purposeful, organized, disciplined, impactful and sustainable. In early 2010, his ideas and thoughts around content, desired outcomes, student selection and other key aspects were sufficiently developed to seriously begin planning. Henry’s plan was to build the program’s curriculum and content based on the leadership framework that he had developed over the years. He sought and received valuable assistance with the program’s unique instructional design from independent consultant Dick Dooley, someone he’d known for more than 25 years. In February 2011, the Leadership Learning Forum held the first session for its inaugural class.

Each year, the company’s senior management team identifies 18 employees with varying job functions and seniority to apply for the program. To be considered, an individual must consistently perform her or his job at an exceptionally high level, demonstrate great potential for increased responsibility and impact, show considerable capacity to grow and succeed at SmithBucklin, have a strong desire for a career in executive management – either at the SmithBucklin corporate level or in service to client organizations – and embody SmithBucklin’s values. To be accepted into the following year’s class, candidates also must assert and demonstrate a deep commitment for personal learning and growth, as well as a willingness to sacrifice personal time to meet the program’s demands.

Recognizing that leadership capacity and performance within an association volunteer board of directors is essential to ensuring the organization remains vital, value-creating and sustainable, Henry created the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute. With the overwhelming success of the Leadership Learning Forum, Henry knew that the boards of SmithBucklin’s client associations would welcome a similar program. Offering such a program would also help the company further demonstrate its client stewardship pledge. In March 2013, the Leadership Institute officially welcomed its first class.

Every fall, SmithBucklin conducts open enrollment for up to 18 volunteer board members with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.  They include business executives, physicians, small business owners, farmers, medical researchers, nurses, technology specialists and managers, researchers, legal marketers, genetic counselors, and other various titles and professional roles. This diversity adds a powerful learning element to the student experience.

Both the Leadership Learning Forum and Leadership Institute are based on the same design, content and format. They also both rely heavily on active facilitation, homework assignments, invited guests, lecturettes, in-session exercises, case studies, and the reading and discussion of core books. These elements provoke, provide context, illuminate ideas and create an environment for reflection, self-discovery, learning and growth. Participants engage in open dialogue, sharing, debate and mutual problem solving. Since the inception of both programs, Henry has served as lead facilitator and continues to do so today.

Students from both programs have noted the powerful impact the experience has had on their professional and personal lives. Both programs have also consistently generated substantive, meaningful growth for participants as observed and measured by their team members, peers, bosses, clients, industry and professional colleagues, and families. And students within each class have forged enduring bonds with and among each other.