LV Alumni Profile: Lee Herrin

We asked LV Alumni Lee Herrin (LV'07) to answer five questions as our first Alumni Profile. Read on to discover more about this intriguing man who has a distinctive approach to leadership... and style!

What kinds of leadership activities are you currently pursuing?

I am the Executive Director of Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group Society—we employ ~50 people and provide a number of services and supports to families in Fernwood. We also operate two businesses through a sudsidiary company. In my volunteer work, I have just completed eight years as President of the Sunrise Educational Society which operates Sunrise Waldorf School (pre-K to Grade 8) in Cowichan Station.

Which of the five Practices of Exemplary Leadership do you feel you excel at the most, and why? (recap – those are Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, Encourage the Heart)

Ultimately, I think my strength is in Challenging the Process. I like to push boundaries and think about different and better ways of doing things: Why do we do it like that? How can we add more value? How can we make the experience better for our clients, customers, employees, or members? “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is not an answer I ever want to hear!

What community issues offer the most compelling call or need these days?

The ongoing and deepening challenge of securing sustainable core funding for non-profits is diminishing the impact we can have as a sector on all community issues. The approach we have taken in Fernwood is to find creative ways to reduce our grant dependence by generating our own independent revenue streams. We have reduced grant dependence from 67% to less than 30% in the past 10 years. I have a lot more to say about this issue than can fit in a single sentence—if you want to know what I think, email me at lee@fernwoodnrg.ca.

What advice, resource or tool for leadership have you discovered that you’d like to share with fellow alumni?

Although there are a multitude of tools (and I have tried out a lot of them), the most powerful tool I have used is the Gallup Strengths-Finder. It’s a proprietary tool that’s been around for 15 years, but I’ve used it myself and with teams to focus on creating an organization that builds on its strengths, rather than focusing on correcting weaknesses. It’s pretty economical to use now, and there is no better return on investment than investing in the strengths of your people.

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Share something silly or heartwarming that makes you smile. (A quote, link, picture, etc)

Those who know me will tell you I have a fairly small and well-defined wardrobe. For me, it’s a way to cut down on choices that don’t add a lot of value in my life (my personal Hell is a place where you try on clothes all day). Last Hallowe’en, the staff in one of our businesses all came to work dressed as me complete with a vest and a cap. It was funny for sure.


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