Quest 2020 Transition & Transformation

One must wonder how the great leadership at LMR arranged a pandemic to ascertain real servant leaders.  Spoiler Alert! Keep reading, the pandemic was not orchestrated by LMR but provided a textbook lesson on “crisis” management.  No case study, extensive reading, thesis or plenary discussion could have better prepared leaders than March 2020.  We BECAME the case study!  

The pandemic brought forth so many questions. I am reminded of the Zora Neale Hurston quote “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Our fears of the unknown required that we become resourceful in a “quest” to finish strong.  The crisis became a unifier. We sought answers together.

The 2020 Leadership Quest family were first to enter my world via Zoom.  Admittedly, I felt a need to make a good impression. Sampling backgrounds, I became a sound & light engineer to share another part of my life.  At this phase of our journey, we were all in the same boat.  

The transition was enlarged through obstacles that were of no effect to the learning available. Like many I struggled with hearing my own voice and not liking the sound. Now I had to overcome the vanity of listening and not focusing on how I appeared on camera.  

The transfer of knowledge was no less rich and fortified virtually, as many have experienced web-based teaching. The greatest hurdle for our class was the absence of the in-person engagement we had come to enjoy. Communication was challenged.  We had to rely on nods of the head and thumbs up reactions absent the “amen corners” we had been accustomed to. Initially the experience was tough as classmates launched into relevant points only to hear…. “You’re are on mute!” The all too common response of “I was talking” was met with kind facial expressions that said, “Yep we saw your lips moving!”

Our 2020 experience was enriched by the transition; it demanded we be fully present.  The new perks became dressing professionally from the waist up, having more time “together” due to the nonexistent drive, and having an occasional off camera laugh, vent or even cry given the topic of discussion.  We met families and pets, sat on porches and decks; all of which provided greater depth into true servant leaders and would not have been afforded otherwise.  The significant benefits of the chat function facilitated encouragement and virtual acceptance of an idea or thought that existed far beyond our screens, tablets, and phones.  

Every class is justified in deeming theirs the best. Selfishly, I submit the 2020 class, if not the best, certainly qualifies as nothing short of “most innovative.”  We became certified architects of the LMR mission to build a better Richmond. Every class going forward will be able to reflect on the pioneers of 2020 who were resilient, resolute and motivated to finish what we started. 

Jeff Conley
LMR Class of 2020
Manager of Supplier Diversity, County of Henrico


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