Management Workshop Builds Leadership Skills
by Andy Hanacek
The ability to be an effective leader and adjust to those who follow was the overall theme of the presentations at the Snack Food Association’s Management Workshop, held at the Indianapolis Marriott Oct. 23-25.
In one of the more intriguing sessions of the two-day event, Steven Wiley of The Wiley Group hosted and moderated a unique in-depth look at the Civil War’s pivotal Battle of Gettysburg in which he and Larry Taylor, senior advisor to the president of Gettysburg College, analyzed the leadership of Union Col. Joshua Chamberlain during the time leading up to and during the battle.
Using case studies and tours of the Gettysburg battlefields, Taylor and Wiley attempted, in Taylor’s words, “to crack a paradox that we believe in: leadership cannot be taught, but leadership can be learned.”
The shortened program for SFA’s Management Workshop featured a case study and clips from the movie “Gettysburg” to encourage learning of leadership skills by attendees.
Wiley explained that there were two types of leadership styles: transactional and transformational, and contended that great leaders can use both successfully. Transformational leaders use their personality and expertise to engage their followers beyond their own self-interests to recognize existing needs, as well as satisfy any higher-order goals.
The example of Chamberlain during the Battle of Gettysburg showed an uncanny use of both transactional (Chamberlain pulling rank over other officials) and transformational (Chamberlain not dismissing the personal needs of his troops in the face of strict orders) leadership styles. Wiley and Taylor convinced Management Workshop attendees that a delicate balance of these two leadership styles was necessary for leadership success.
The workshop kicked off in grand style on Sunday, with the welcome reception and dinner at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Hall of Champions, a five-year-old facility just outside downtown that pays tribute to the spirit, success, leadership and abilities of NCAA student-athletes across the nation and throughout history.
Attendees wound their way through the many interactive kiosks and displays before and after dinner, which was set in the Great Hall, below 88 banners honoring the championship teams in each NCAA-sanctioned sport. Attendees also were able to shoot free throws and short jump shots in the 1920s-style miniature gym.
Monday morning’s schedule included a tour of the Pretzels, Inc., plant in Bluffton, Ind., during which attendees were given a detailed look at the processes and products the facility pumps out every day. Particularly popular on the tour was the company’s automated robotic case palletizer, automatic case scanning and sorting system and radio frequency-controlled warehouse management system.
On Tuesday, Jeff Tobe, CSP, sandwiched the breakout sessions and lunch with two high-energy talks about problem solving and how to deal with different types of people from a management perspective.
Tobe’s breakdown of people using the four personality categories of the DISC profile — Dominant, Influencer, Steadiness and Compliant — focused on how to sell each personality on an idea or a product.
Tobe’s often-humorous examples and constant audience interaction kept attendees on their toes and helped them to understand their personality type and how they would interact with the other combinations. By bringing the audience into the fold and admitting to his listeners his own strengths and weaknesses, Tobe was able to engage participants into reassessing how each person might handle his or her subordinates and supervisors in the future.
As usual, the Sales & Marketing and Manufacturing & Technology “Series” of breakout sessions informed attendees on the latest trends in those areas, with the Sales & Marketing set focusing heavily on retail trends and strategies this time around. The Manufacturing & Technology set delved into handling bioterrorism and facility security concerns and managing human error.
During the Tuesday lunch session, incoming SFA Chairman Richard M. Rudolph offered an excellent perspective on finding your niche market as a business.
Rudolph, president of Rudolph Foods Co., Inc., detailed his company’s history and used its long trek through the years as an example of how important it is to stay true to your original plan. He explained that Rudolph Foods had to develop its own specific recipe and brand of pork rinds, which took time to produce. But since then, the company has focused exclusively on its niche as a leader in the pork rind snack category and has found excellent success because of that strategy.
Once again, SFA’s Management Workshop drew some of the up-and-coming managers and leaders of snack food companies that will drive the industry into the future. More than 100 attendees were “Winning in Indy,” taking advantage of in-depth, energetic and informative sessions, presentations and team-building exercises. For that, their companies will be winning in the future.