Leadership conference gives Viera High students new perspective on leadership


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Viera High students Caitlin Carter, left, Kaitlyn Levon, teacher Barbara Kelly and Chancellor McGriff recently took part in the Live2Lead Leadership Development Conference.

photo courtesy of viera high school

Three Viera High Business and Finance Academy students recently got a unique perspective on what it takes to be a good leader from experts on both the national and local levels.

Sophomores Kaitlyn Levon, Chancellor McGriff and Caitlin Carter attended the Live2Lead Leadership Development Conference at Heritage Isle. Pizza Gallery owner Chris Conneen co-hosted the event and not only invited, but sponsored the Viera High students' attendance.

Barbara Kelly, the director of the Academies at Viera, said the three students were picked by their teachers because of their leadership qualities.

Hurricane Matthew forced postponement of the event in Brevard County, so attendees watched a recorded simulcast of the national presentation.

Still, with a panel that included John C. Maxwell (leadership expert and best-selling author), Simon Sinek (optimist and author), Liz Wiseman (researcher, executive advisor and president of the Wiseman Group) and Dan Cathy (chairman, president and CEO of Chick-fil-A) the students were able to get plenty of insight.

“Some people said there are two things that leaders need — empathy and perspective — empathy being, you have to take care of those people who are in your charge and bring them to their natural best,” McGriff said. “And if they’re not performing correctly, or they’re not performing right, understand why.

“And for perspective, it’s not about winning or losing in business. It’s more about making your business grow as a whole.”

The national presentation was followed by a panel led by Jeff Piersall of Space Coast Business Marketing.

Levon was already thinking about how she could apply what she learned.

“I’m in charge of a lot of clubs on campus and it really taught me how I could be a better leader,” she said. “I learned that the best leaders put the needs of their team before their own and they’re not focused on their own success, they’re focused on the success of the group.

“I’m currently trying to restart DECA (a business club) at my school and I can use a lot of what I learned.”

Carter, learned new ideas about how to help.

“I like to work with my classmates a lot and help them to succeed,” she said. “Instead of telling them what to do, it taught me to ask more questions to get them to figure out how to do things to best benefit themselves.”

Asked if there was anything about the discussion they found surprising, Levon had an interesting take.

 “I was surprised because they’re so compassionate toward their employees,” she said. “Usually, you hear about the corporate world being so cutthroat. It was very nice to hear about CEOs who actually cared about the feelings of their employees.”