My first acts of leadership were not really acts at all, rather, they were simply a copying of what I had seen other teachers and supervisors do, particularly my father, who was a Production and Shipping/Receiving Supervisor at a manufacturing facility.
In those days, I was at Mohawk College as an Electrical Engineering student as well as a production worker at that same manufacturing facility during the summer months. I truly respected my Mohawk instructors and the manufacturing supervisors and often looked up to them. At that age, I didn’t really think about leadership much, at least not as much as I do now. At that time, I was simply allowing myself to be influenced by my instructors and supervisors and the ideas and concepts that they conveyed to me. They just felt right then. After having graduated from Mohawk College and spending substantial time in the working world, I can now relate many of the concepts that I learned to what those instructors and supervisors were doing many years ago and implement them into my own leadership strategy.
Because of my time spent in manufacturing, I developed an interest in manufacturing management. This is when I started studying Industrial Engineering and Quality Assurance in Continuing Education. I was surprised to see how much emphasis there was on leadership skills in those courses. This helped to lay the foundation for my current position as an Assistant Manager for a public self-storage facility in Burlington. I soon realized that the concepts that I learned could be applied in any work sector, not just manufacturing.
I’ve also noticed over the years how many Mohawk grads have developed into very successful leaders. I have personal friends from Mohawk that have gone on to become supervisors, managers, and business owners. All of these require leadership skills, some of which I’m certain were learned at Mohawk College. They may have been taught in formal classroom settings or perhaps through friends and instructors in more informal settings. I will never forget the chats that I had with my instructors outside of class time. They had so much knowledge, experience, and wisdom to talk about. It was not always about the course material. Sometimes it was about daily living and how we interact with each other.
I have decided to continue to follow the teachings of my instructors, my father, and my past supervisors. They taught me that I must have confidence and competency. My actions will always be under scrutiny by an office full of people looking for any signs of inconsistency and non-authenticity. My father said it best when he told me that leadership is something that we can all learn. He admitted that some people are more natural at it, but added that everyone can learn it. It doesn’t have anything to do with rank, title, or hierarchy. It’s ultimately a condition of your mind and your heart… a product of what you are rather than where you are.
– Todd Midgley
Electrical Engineering Technician ’91