January 2013

Leadership Skills for Ironworkers

Every two years outstanding apprentices from the United States and Canada come together to compete and to determine the best of the best. The Apprenticeship Conference and Outstanding Apprentice Competition events were held in Indianapolis, Indiana during September 20-23, 2012. The events were hosted by the District Council of Southern Ohio and Vicinity and Local Union 22.

Recognizing that these apprentices really are the best of the best, IMPACT and the National Training Fund conducted a "Leadership Skills for Ironworkers" seminar for the competitors. The objective of this four-hour seminar is to make the participants aware of the leadership skills required to help ensure they have a successful career as an ironworker.

The focus of this interactive seminar is on nine specific leadership skills:

  • Integrity
  • Trust & values
  • Team building
  • Listening
  • Influencing & persuading others
  • Competitive spirit
  • Passion
  • Problem solving
  • Vision & adaptability

At the beginning of the seminar, the apprentices were welcomed by General President Walter Wise, General Secretary Eric Dean, General Treasurer Edward McHugh, and IMPACT CEO Kevin Hilton.

During the seminar, the participants worked in small groups to complete a series of activities including how to become a successful ironworker, describing an ironworker with strong integrity, dealing with trust issues, the benefits of a competitive spirit, problem solving, and others. The final activity required the participants to describe what they want to be doing in five years. Responses from apprentices included being a skilled journeyman ironworker, an ironworker contractor, a certified welding inspector, an apprenticeship instructor, and being elected a local union officer.

Feedback on the seminar was positive. One apprentice commented, "I learned the importance of developing a five year plan and working towards it." Another said, "My goal is to continue to be the best ironworker I can and to be of service to my local, my brothers, and my contractor." Another apprentice commented, "I learned the importance of good integrity on and off the job."

The seminar was conducted by Clint Knowlton, Local 721 (Toronto, Ontario) apprenticeship coordinator and Rick Sullivan, IMPACT director of education and training.