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NEW Western Michigan learns to lead with influence

Tuesday, September 17, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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A trio of senior industry executives coached more than 100 Network of Executive Women members on building effective leadership styles at the NEW Western Michigan fall networking event at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Sept. 13, 2013.

Kris Charles, vice president, global communications and philanthropy at Kellogg Company.; Derek Jones, executive vice president, retail operations for Spartan Stores; and Liwanag Ojala, vice president, e-commerce at Meijer Inc. offered their insights on influential leadership. The discussion was moderated by Diane Kniowski, president and CEO of WOOD and WOTV.

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Leadership style is often evolutionary, shaped by maintaining openness to colleagues and seniors, the industry veterans agreed. "I started to define my behavior by who I was talking to in the room,” Kniowski shared.

Following the values of an organization is essential to leadership. Charles emphasized having "the courage to recognize and call out when the values are not being followed.”

Emerging leaders must participate in defining their career path, despite a host of unknowns, Ojala advised. "You have to take the risk, not knowing what is going to happen. Do not leave your own development to chance.”

The panelists agreed that having ― and holding on to ― a strong personal philosophy is a key element of influential leadership. For Jones, that meant growing with responsibility.

"The times of biggest growth were the times when I questioned if I could do it,” said Jones, adding that "having humility and the hunger to learn” pushed him through his lack of confidence.

The learning and networking event gave attendees new insights into their roles and career goals. "I have been working in my role for over 30 years,” said Sally Rieger of Altria, "and I was inspired by things today that will help me continue to be a leader and be successful.”

Among the organizations sending large delegations to the event were Acosta Sales & Marketing, Altria, Kraft Foods Group Inc., Meijer Inc. and Spartan Stores.

Diane Kniowski of WOOD TV (left) moderated a discussion about
influential leadership with panelists Liwanag Ojala of Meijer Inc., Kris
Charles of The Kellogg Company and Derek Jones of Spartan Stores.

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