Breakthrough Leadership Training Institute
The impetus for the creation of the BLTI is the significant absence of women and people of color as union officers and staffers. Women make up 55% of all new workers who join unions and people of color make up approximately 30% of all union members, and the top leadership of unions at every level does not reflect this growing diversity.
The Breakthrough Leadership Training Institute (BLTI) was created and developed by former IBEW Fifth District IVP Mel Horton, former IBEW LU 2127 BM Robbie Sparks and former IBEW Director of Human Services Royetta Sanford.
The mission of the BLTI is to provide leadership training and mentoring to create a cohort of well qualified women and people of color that will enable and empower women and people of color to realize their full union leadership potential and thereby improve and enhance the IBEW while not only sustaining but growing the membership.
The BLTI intends to stress the importance of negotiating a contract, arbitrating a grievance and organizing under the law. Knowing the Constitution and Bylaws is important while understanding the application and practical use of these documents is essential. Knowing how Robert’s Rules of Order are applied is necessary to being able to navigate through a successful membership meeting. And of course getting elected to a delegate position or local union office is paramount. These are the hard skills necessary to be a successful leader. This is what we refer to as doing things right. Hard skills are required to manage.
Doing the right things come from developing soft skills. Communication involves more than just talking or speaking to someone; it involves listening. Communication is conveying a thought or idea to someone so that they understand the thought or idea as it is intended. That is why listening is so important. Listening is a skill we are not taught and must be developed to be a good communicator. Another soft skill is solving problems, trouble shooting, which can sometimes involve creative thinking. There must also be a commitment to a vision, what the local union should look like and how to get there. The vision may be somewhat flexible in development but not in the essence of the vision. When I say somewhat flexible I mean in terms of how we get there. This is the skill set of strategic thinking and planning. We also discuss ethics and values; soft skills that can never be compromised.
Good soft skills are required to be a good leader.
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