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On The Job: Is your workplace reaching its full potential?

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SBJ graphic by Katelyn Egger; Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Taney County Career Days set for next month

The annual Taney County Career Days, organized by the Taney County Partnership economic development organization, is set for March 7-9. Employers are being sought to sign up for industry sectors, such as health and sciences, finance and general business, and information technology. According to a Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau newsletter, employers have until March 2 to sign up.

Those interested can call the Taney County Partnership at 417-243-2126 or email Executive Director Jonas Arjes at jarjes@taneycountypartnership.com.

The event, geared toward introducing and educating students on the career paths that exist within the marketplace in seven industry sectors, will start March 7 at Hollister High School. It moves March 8 to Branson High School and concludes March 9 at Forsyth High School.

Is your workplace reaching its full potential?

Most people probably don’t commit a lot of time pondering the level of potential being reached in their workplace. At least I know I don’t. But a recent email I received on a study that analyzed how co-workers select leaders among their peers got me thinking.

The University of Missouri study, which was published in October 2022 in the Journal of Applied Psychology, surveyed more than 375 employees from 63 businesses. Ann C. Peng, an associate professor at the Trulaske College of Business, examined how co-workers internally select leaders among their peers, referred to as informal leaders. The study discovered that not everyone who is motivated and capable of leading is asked to do so on an equal basis. It suggests organizations may not be utilizing employees to their full leadership potential because they aren’t given the same opportunities to lead and advance.

Peng found when a workplace establishes a leadership structure, it becomes relatively stable and difficult to change.

“If you are not initially established as a leader in that structure, you are at a disadvantage,” she said in a news release. “For instance, someone who is extroverted is more likely to quickly emerge as a leader, whereas someone who is introverted and equally talented may not. Yet, the group dynamic we found suggests that the introverted person, despite his/her talent and motivation to lead, may be called upon less by their peers.”

Peng suggests managers be mindful of a group dynamic and counteract the tendency to lean on one person by intentionally offering the overlooked employees chances to prove their leadership skills. Doing so can increase office productivity and ensure more workers develop as leaders, according to the study.

I do identify more as an introverted person, but in most of my workplaces I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to be a leader, whether it’s overseeing other employees or a project. My voice has always seemed to matter. However, I do wonder if I was part of a big workforce – Springfield Business Journal, currently at 16 employees, qualifies as the largest for me – would those leadership opportunities emerge? If so, would I get that call to lead?

Open for Business Extras

As I compile our publication’s Open for Business section, there’s frequently some interesting details that don’t make the final cut because of space constraints, among other reasons. Here’s a couple recent examples:

Yolo Rolled Ice Cream
It was love at first bite for a pair of young entrepreneurs who opened their first brick-and-mortar shop in Branson on New Year’s Day. Laiken Avery and fiance Cole Crutcher had never tried rolled ice cream before a vacation last fall to Florida. They enjoyed it so much that they ate it several days straight for the remainder of the trip and quickly landed on it as a new concept to bring to their hometown of Branson. For those unfamiliar, the treat is made by pouring a liquid ice cream base onto a very cold surface, mixing in any toppings, then spreading it out in a thin layer and using a spatula to push strips of the ice cream into rolls. There’s even a romantic angle to the new shop for the entrepreneurs, who are both in their early 20s: Cole surprised Laiken with a marriage proposal at the shop before family and friends less than a month before opening Yolo. It was even captured on the shop’s TikTok page.

Leveled Up Loot
Owner Christopher Smith, who refers to his business as a pop culture marketplace, said Leveled Up Loot LLC went from a home-based venture to finding a home last year in Village Shopping Center by necessity. Smith said he and his wife, Amanda, were running out of space at home to house their inventory, much of which he said leans toward nostalgia. A scan of the store’s Facebook on any given day can give you a sample of the variety of products, such as video games, vintage movie posters, “Star Wars” figures, vinyl records and earrings. The couple also maintain Leveled Up Loot’s eBay page, which at last count had roughly 260 items for sale, including several action figures from “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” which I certainly remember from my childhood.

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