As our state, nation, and world continue to grapple with a global pandemic, it is incumbent upon us all to dig deep into what many believe to be an important leadership skill – empathy. A considerable amount of my brainpower lately has been spent studying, reading, listening, and learning about empathy and how we can grow it as a society in challenging times like these.
Empathy is more than a trendy buzzword ala Brené Brown. The ability to connect with, listen to, and support those in our circles is nothing new – we do it every day with friends and family members. When empathy enters the workplace, it can be a game-changer for teams, organizations, and businesses. I’ve seen it happen.
I am a typical Type-A, ESTJ with a strong action bias who is often most focused on productivity and making progress toward goals. Pre-pandemic, “getting stuff done” was the name of my game and empathy was something I admired in other leaders but didn’t recognize in myself.
Enter 2020, the year that changed the way we all live and work together. We had to put empathy first because so much was unknown about our current reality, and deep listening was the only way of learning what our people needed to navigate the uncertainty. Leading others meant leaning on new skills, as evidenced by the number of leaders seeking support from Leadership Montana. My days were often spent listening deeply to alumni experiencing the challenges of leading teams. I heard from business owners afraid of closing the doors on their lifelong dreams. We led conversations about our fears and feelings in our changing world. Leadership started to look different to me and I began to understand that empathy isn’t just a nice thing to strive for – it is essential to the kind of leaders we want to develop at Leadership Montana and for our great state.
I am always learning how to be a better leader, which for me now means leaning into empathy, compassion, and kindness. And while I still default to expectations of high-performance for myself and others, I know that foundation begins with seeking to understand and building caring connections.
Be well and lead well,
Chantel M. Schieffer
President & CEO
Class of 2010, Masters 2019
WELCOME KATHY LINTON
We are thrilled to introduce our newest team member, Kathy Linton - Operations Director. Please join us in welcoming Kathy to the Leadership Montana world.
Kathy Linton has been in the leadership business for over 25 years and recently retired as a Colonel in the Air Force. For the first 14 years of her military career, she was a Navy helicopter pilot. Her last tour in the Navy was as the Commanding Officer of Navy Support Center Helena. She and her husband fell in love with Helena and decided to stay so Kathy left the Navy and joined the Montana Air National Guard where she spent the past 11 years in various human resources leadership positions. For the past six years, Kathy was stationed at the National Guard Bureau in northern Virginia, where she led teams responsible for recruiting, human resource policy and legislation development, and strategic planning. Her most recent position was as the Director of Personnel for National Guard Bureau Space Operations where she worked closely with the U. S. Space Force to create all-new human resource strategies, processes, and procedures.
Kathy is a life-long learner and loves to read. She is an Air Force Academy graduate, has a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a Master of Strategic Studies from Air University. She is also a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach.
Kathy is married and has two amazing daughters. She and her family are excited to put roots down in Helena and imbed themselves in the community they love. Kathy enjoys cooking, hiking, fly fishing, cross-country skiing, and trail running.
INTRODUCING THE CLASS OF 2022
We are thrilled to welcome these remarkable leaders to our program with our two consecutive flagship classes. We are all excited for the year ahead and grateful for their enthusiastic participation.
Josh Pelczar – Big Sky Resort
Shannon Christensen - Cushing Terrell
Joe (Jose) Clifton - Native American Development Corporation/Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness center
Kerri Crowe - Pinnacle Property of Montana
Kendra Eaton - SCL Health - St Vincent
Shayne Frank - American Indian Consulting Services/ Native American Development Corporation
Erik Gothberg - Kampgrounds of America
Tim Guardipee - Native American Development Corporation
Doug Jensen - PayneWest Insurance
Jodi Jordan - First Interstate Bank
Kori Keller - The Ramsey Keller Memorial
Thom MacLean - Big Sky Economic Development
Dr. David Park – Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine
Angie Pollock – Department of the Interior, BLM
Laurie Smith - Billings Clinic
Jackie Atkins - American Simmental Association
Janelle Booth - Montana State University
Tate Chamberlin - I Am Interchange
Becky Edwards - Mountain Mamas
Ashley Flammond - Water & Environmental Technologies
Amanda Flohr - Wipfli LLP
Bryn Hagfors - D.A. Davidson Companies
Ben King - Best Practice Medicine
Molly Pickall - The Trust for Public Land
Jon Shafer - NorthWestern Energy
Jim Veltkamp - City of Bozeman
Emily Yost - Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply
Thomas Danial David – Drunk’n Miner Saloon/Copper Spirits Casino
Shannon LaTray – Montana Chemical Dependency Center
Jon Bennion – The Washington Companies
Randy Weimer – Sibanye-Stillwater
Roubie Younkin – Montana State University Extension
Samantha Brooks – Northwest Farm Credit Services
Charles Robison - Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association
Karena Bemis - Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel
Wayne Bunch - Montana State Fund
Barbara Chillcott - State of Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Laura Clark - Opportunity Bank of Montana
Jenna Eisenhart - Shodair Children's Hospital
Jana Garza - First Interstate Bank
Sara Groves - Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MT
Marlee Iverson - Montana Department of Commerce
Tony King - Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation
Nate Kopp - Prickly Pear Land Trust
Ali Mandell - Anderson-ZurMuehlen
Jason Rittal - Montana Association of Counties
Kimberly Seligman - MT Chamber of Commerce
Jill-Marie Steeley - PureView Health Center
Katie Willcockson - MT Department of Commerce
Eric Sivers - Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Leslie Southworth - Montana Primary Care Association
Jess Melin – NextEra Energy Inc.
Jill Alban - Ahead by 11
Ellie Boldman - Montana Legislature
Molly Davidson - Morrison-Maierle, Inc.
Eric Franzon - Smart Data SEO
Dori Gilels - Damn Good Consulting LLC
Brad Hall - University of Montana
Adrienne Maxwell - Crowley Fleck PLLP
Mike Morelli - University of Montana
Sarah Richey - Five Valleys Land Trust
Nicole Smith - University of Montana
Jeff Smith - WGM Group
Jody Verity - Montana Rail Link
David Wall - Missoula County
Amy Tykeson – Tykeson Family Foundation
Amy O’Hoyt – AO & Co, LLC
Elaine Stedman – Boys & Girls Club of Richland County
Wendy McKamey - Legislator for the State of Montana
Keith Clawson – First Interstate Bank
Diane Conradi – Montana Access Project
Kacy Howard – Nate Chute Foundation
The Confluence is typically our largest in-person gathering, this year we are splitting that event into 2 smaller Confluence events, in September in White Sulphur Springs and in March in Red Lodge. You can attend one, the other or both. The Confluence is also open to the public, so if you have a friend or co-worker interested in learning more about Leadership Montana this is a great event for them to get to know us.
- Practice listening to diverse perspectives and viewpoints of issues facing Montana
- Learn how Montana communities are addressing challenges and opportunities
- Build connections with leaders from different industries and locations in Montana
- Deepen knowledge of leadership in Montana
- Discover innovative solutions to current challenges
- Recognize that serious business can be fun
We hope you join us for our first event as a return to in-person programming. Register today.
Become trained and certified to facilitate this collaborative leadership model known as Gracious Space. We are bringing Gracious Space author and creator Patricia Hughes to Billings on October 25-26 to provide that opportunity for our alumni and others who have been trained in Gracious Space.
(Not a LMT graduate - please contact email@example.com to determine eligibility.)
If you are interested in deepening your practice of Gracious Space and using those tools to teach this practice to others, we invite you to consider training to be a certified facilitator.
Class will begin at 9:00 am each day and our training location will be in downtown Billings.
For more information, kindly contact Hatton Littman at 406-577-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I want my entire team to experience Leadership Montana. Can we do that?” Yes, you can!
In 2020, nearly 1,000 Montanans participated in a Leadership Montana training through their company or community. With three main workshops to offer, we can help you build a culture of leadership in your organization.
Leadership Montana exists because of you! Your ongoing support is crucial to the future of our organization. We are asking you to consider making a monthly gift to Leadership Montana which provides a dependable source of support that Leadership Montana can count on throughout the year.
With automatic deductions from your credit card, debit card, or checking account, you can make one monthly gift today without further action and know your donation is in place for the entire year. If your situation changes for any reason, you can always update or cancel your gift.
Dax Schieffer, Class of 2009, Helena
Interviewed by Karen Baumgart Miller, Class of 2020, Billings
Many would say the traditional “entrepreneurial tale” speaks of those rebels who, unable or willing to fit into the system, jump from venture to venture feeding their hunger for the novel and uncertain.
Dax Schieffer, however, is not your stereotypical entrepreneur. In fact, self-labeled as a “reluctant entrepreneur,” before starting his own organization, Schieffer was loyally employed with only two companies for 20 years. One of those being the family-owned restaurant he pulled shifts at in high school.
Born an Eastern Montana boy, Dax grew up in Sidney. Upon graduating high school, Dax attended Montana State University where his appreciation for the mountains only blossomed; he states his first year was consumed with trips to Bridger Bowl. This adoration sunk deep and he knew he wanted to keep this majestic landscape an aspect of his life and so he began his career working at Big Sky Resort. Leveraging his strong work ethic, Dax found himself on a career trajectory; getting promoted from manager to Marketing and Media Relations ultimately serving as the Human Resources Director for Big Sky Resort.
In 2011 Dax married and found it more practical to relocate to Bozeman. This move meant he’d be commuting back and forth from Big Sky for work. After 2 years, the extra miles added up and it posed enough challenges that Dax began entertaining other work options. Always wanting to maintain solid relationships, Dax spoke with his General Manager and within a few short weeks, he found contract work with a state-wide tourism group. Eventually, this contract position developed into Dax leading Voices of Montana Tourism where he was able to marry all of his passions-Montana, domestic travel, and marketing, into one role while providing him the ability to remain a present husband and dad.
Dax was a member of the 2009 Leadership Montana class and he attributes a lot of his success with Voices of Montana Tourism to this program. It was Leadership Montana, Dax states, that “provided me with state-wide connections” to strengthen his organization as well as “the ability to network around the state meaningfully” which supports the continuation of his work today. Leadership Montana provided Dax the opportunity to check his assumptions and approach problems with more humility; a trait he remembers learning multiple times during his program. Growing up in Sidney, living in Bozeman, and traveling extensively for his work, Dax believed he knew Montana. “I would walk in with too many assumptions. [And then, after sessions], I’d walk away thinking, ok I totally had it wrong.” While he had visited and traveled through many communities in Montana, it was Leadership Montana that really provided him the opportunity to connect with communities. “I had more to learn than I thought I knew,” Dax recalls.
Dax continues to nurture this curiosity and, paired with his work ethic and loyalty, digs deep into his work across the state of Montana. As he leads Voices of Montana Tourism, providing a unified voice for the immense value a sustainably-grown tourism industry provides the State, he brings with him lessons learned and embraces the unknown with excitement. Maybe a “reluctant entrepreneur” in the beginning, it seems it’s this humility that today allows him to walk into any room in any Montana community and listen, digest and create for the betterment of our State.
This month we shine our spotlight on Silver Sponsor Sandfire Resources. Our gratitude to Nancy Schlepp (2017) for all that you do to help us build a better Montana!
Leadership Montana is a non-profit collaboration of leaders from business, labor, healthcare, higher education, non-profits and government coming together to form a strong partnership for the betterment of Montana.
Leadership Montana exists to develop leaders committed to building a better Montana through knowledge, collaboration and civility.