Our region’s future is bright thanks to the strong leaders who are navigating change and cultivating successful teams today. Not only are these leaders a catalyst for change today, but they are also molding and shaping the leaders of future generations. FIRST & 42 is celebrating the region’s stars from the 2020 class of Leadership Kalamazoo with our Leader Spotlight. Lean in to learn about these leaders’ “firsts” in life as well as their answers to a few deeper questions about their leadership and vision for our community. Featured today is Jill Bish, director of catering and convention services at Greenleaf Hospitality Group.
In her role, Jill works closely with her team to help create memorable moments for their clients at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. “Every time a group works with us, I want them to say it was their best experience so far,” said Jill. Jill added her proudest moments as a leader are when her team members whom she coaches and mentors have a moment when their learning “clicks” and also when they use new knowledge or skills and pass it along to others. The first time in life that Jill felt like a leader was taking a leadership position for a student organization in college. “It helped me to understand how I wanted to go about making a positive impact,” she said. Read on to learn more about Jill below.
First Things First
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR GOING OUT TO EAT LOCALLY?
Erbelli’s in Portage. Every person in my family has a favorite dish so it’s always a winner.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU FELT LIKE A LEADER?
I accepted a leadership position in a student organization during college. I learned a lot from that experience. It helped me to understand how I wanted to go about making a positive impact.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST JOB YOU REMEMBER WANTING AS A CHILD?
I wanted to be a horse rancher. I really looked up to one of my older cousins. She wanted to be a horse rancher, so I did too.
The Deep Dive
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN YOUR CURRENT POSITION? WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES?
I’ve been in my position for five years. My day-to-day responsibilities revolve around supporting my team. My team and I work with all of the groups that choose the Radisson to either stay at or host meetings and events. It’s a group of eleven people that are focused on creating memorable moments and helping our groups achieve their goals. I’m passionate about working with every team member to support that focus while challenging them to always look for the next opportunity to do it better. Every time a group works with us, I want them to say it was their best experience so far.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST LEADERSHIP MOMENT?
My proudest moment has taken place many times. I have a passion for coaching and mentoring my team members through their professional development. Working with a team member on a topic over the course of weeks or sometimes months and then seeing the moment when it all clicks together is so incredibly rewarding. It doesn’t stop there though. Time and again, I see them take that new knowledge or new skill and run with it. They are using it in ways I never imagined and passing it on to others. To see that “pay it forward” happen, that is my proudest moment.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT KALAMAZOO?
There is so much to love that it’s hard to choose what I love the most. I’m not originally from Kalamazoo and moved here from a large metro area. My favorite surprise after moving here was the tremendously diverse art and culture opportunities available. From multiple genres of museums to live theater to the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra to Art Hop to sporting events to the culinary scene and more, Kalamazoo has it all. After five years, I’m still finding new activities and places to explore.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS THAT YOU PRACTICE SELF-CARE AND MANAGE YOUR ENERGY AS A LEADER?
I read a lot of books on leadership, coaching, culture, and the list goes on. A few years ago, I discovered the “Rule of 3.” In basic terms, you choose three activities or outcomes that you want to focus on every day, week, month, and year. If you get more accomplished, fantastic! However, if you can stay focused on those three, you can prioritize more effectively and not get overwhelmed with or distracted by never-ending to-do lists. This also allows you to feel successful every day. It’s a great way to maintain the energy that I need.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR OUR COMMUNITY IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I would like to see our community and everything that it has to offer become more well-known. I would like Kalamazoo to become a magnet for talented individuals and their families. It can be magnetic in keeping people that grew up here or are attending one of our colleges from leaving. It can also be magnetic in attracting people to move here. I believe this would lead to exponential growth, opportunities, and diversity.