A Quick Note on Bold Leadership
By Brittany Quick-Warner, CEO of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
In a world that feels more polarized as each day passes, organizations like ours often find themselves between a rock and hard place when it comes to taking positions, speaking out and demonstrating bold leadership to improve our region’s prosperity. The tough issues facing our community are very rarely black and white, and our business members come from diverse backgrounds, industries and political affiliations.
So how do we weigh in, gain consensus and catalyze solutions for the difficult issues facing our community? With patience, thoughtful research and grace for ourselves and others when we get it wrong. We survey our members, read and learn from the supporting and opposing arguments and look at the data whenever we can.
Our economy is complex
Improving the prosperity of our region means different things to different people. Our definition of prosperity has evolved as a Chamber, as well.
Prosperity, to us, means more than money in business owners’ pockets—despite what the mistaken stereotypes of business people and Chambers of Commerce suggest. Prosperity also means more than job creation. While more jobs are certainly important, our Chamber and our business leaders believe it goes much deeper than that.
Profits and job growth are a means to an end. We want to see profits translate to wage growth, and jobs that lower overall unemployment numbers in our region. We want jobs and wage growth to translate into financial security, healthy families and happy citizens. We also want profits and business growth to turn into a growing tax base with more resources for schools, safety, parks and resources for our most vulnerable populations.
Prosperity is all-encompassing
If our mission stopped at “improving the local economy” or “helping businesses succeed,” it wouldn’t tell the whole story. Our mission is to be a catalytic leader in creating a diverse and vibrant economy that drives economic opportunity and well-being for our community.
“Economic opportunity and well-being”—now, that is something I can buy into. People living happy, healthy lives—that is what regional prosperity means to us. While the cause is valiant, the lift is mighty—and we know we can’t do it on our own.
We are proudly focused on helping businesses succeed by developing and retaining talent, cultivating business-friendly leaders, solving problems and advocating for business-friendly policies. That is only a fragment of the work that needs to be done to create a prosperous community. We need our partners who are focused on serving the homeless, helping families and children succeed, improving our education system, addressing climate change and building homes, among so many other activities.
While we may not provide direct services in those areas or even lead the conversation, it is critical that we are at the table, supporting the other cogs in the wheel, just as we hope others will work with us to help businesses succeed.
Bold leadership is multipronged
Partnerships, uncommon alliances and bringing diverse voices to the table help us get to creative and innovative solutions and get past the misunderstanding and the stereotypes.
Bold leadership also means recognizing that there may not be a perfect solution or crystal-clear win-win. It’s having the courage to make a decision and move forward when nothing seems easy. It also requires humility, to admit when something didn’t work, the awareness to learn from mistakes and the nimbleness to pivot to a new solution.
If we can do that together and commit to coming to the table with an open mind, then we can truly embody bold leadership.
We want to hear from you. What does our best future look like? Use #ChamberEvolved to share your vision.
Enjoy the read? Check out more great content.