Thursday, January 21, 2010

Strengthening Our Leadership

AHE Network
Leadership Retreat - Center for Creative Leadership
September 21-22, 2009

SQUARE (Something I Learned that Squares with My Belief; My Work Experience)

Knowing more about oneself and being able to utilize that self-knowledge in all settings is very valuable.

Relationships that matter take time. Multiple opportunities to talk and learn together have made me so much more appreciative of the differences and similarities among this group. Over the course of our working together since OACHE in 2006, the individual personalities have become less influential in my thinking about my colleagues than the substance of their contributions. This is a remarkable and genuinely important aspect of this work for me. There is not a person in our group that has not challenged and supported my thinking and efforts—and I love this.

The leadership development program, in every aspect, squares with my thinking. In particular, the definition of leadership..."the expansion of a person's capacity to be effective in roles and processes.... [that] enable groups of people to work together in productive and meaningful ways", seems to exactly fit what we are trying to do within our AHE Network group and outside and individually by identifying principals in our region to expand their leadership capacity to lead their schools.

Leadership is critical and can be improved. Increased understanding using the leadership assessments that were administered, data analysis, and implementing planned improvement efforts can make a huge difference in the success of an organization. An organization's success is directly related to the degree of team effort, networking, and personal involvement. The team leaders' habits serve to either hamper the team's efforts or propel the team to new heights.

I am glad to know CCL is reaching out to non-profits and education.

Leadership is a continuous development process.

Loners and hermits tend not to develop into effective leaders.

Leadership can be learned.

CIRCLE (Lingering Questions)

How can I best apply what I have learned to maximize my work efforts and outcomes?

What will our organization become as we move forward? What do we want it to become?

My Firo-B and SkillScope results keep circling around as I try to use them to improve my effectiveness as a leader. My comfort zone was certainly stretched! The tools confirmed some things I knew about myself and identified some things that I was surprised about. (thank goodness for the coach for taking care of my psyche as I unraveled in her office)… all in all, I learned and will use the results for deep reflection and (hopefully) great improvement in my interpersonal communication skills!

"How credible are the data I retrieved?" I was much harder on myself (I showed many more areas of deficiency) than the raters actually portrayed. At the time, I had no direct reports working under me, only two people who worked for me three years ago and two peers who worked with me recently. I thought I knew myself as a leader, but apparently I really did not. I thought a lot of my leadership issues were due to the fact that "I am not positioned within my organization to be the leader". However, after studying this feedback, I now see that much of the responsibility for my leadership issues rests with me. I have not trusted the members of the teams I have worked with, nor taken the time to probe their ideas, or offered adequate opportunities for them to "step up to the plate and go to bat." I am an impatient person! Changing my natural tendencies to micromanage and fix everything myself will take time.
How do I begin this leadership journey? I know it is critical for me to demonstrate in numerous ways that I value each person on the team, so I am digging into the FYI book for strategies. Should I sit down with my peers and explain the process of self-awareness that I've currently participated in, and ask them to join me on this journey?

Would each of my AHE Network colleagues be willing to share an occasional "CCL WOW" moment via email? Getting an occasional email from someone sharing CCL moments, would help keep me focused on what matters most. I'd really appreciate hearing your ideas and advice along the way. (e.g., I had a student worker stick her head in my office and ask where I'd been the past few days. A light bulb came on. . . I stopped typing, turned and talked with her. I spent five minutes getting to know her better. I would not have done this prior to the CCL experience!

360 degree feedback utilizing both FIRO-B and SKILLSCOPE would be a great resource and highly beneficial and effective in developing and strengthening the principal’s role in his/her school, county, state.

What works (practical tips and tricks) for LDP participants when they are implementing actions and advice as presented in the FYI book and from the coaches/trainers?

How can the AHE Network capitalize and maximize (in a positive sense -- to benefit the Network as a whole) the recent CCL training received as a group, the individual instruments' assessments, and the in-process-of-development individual leadership development plans?

TRIANGLE (3 Important Points to Remember)

We are all different personalities, but can also be leaders.

The relationship of the FIRO-B and SKILLSCOPE.

Listen to the digital recorder - to remember and apply the quality feedback from the CCL coach.

Being intentional requires energy and concentration.

Leadership Networking is not a superficial activity, but an intentional generative action.

Sometimes, there just isn't enough time to gather information and process it in a sequential, logical manner; like overeating at a banquet buffet, so much information and stimulation creates a fullness and numbness at the same time.

The Goal Planning Sheet will keep us honest as we begin our work with the identified principals.

We are a "learning" group. Everyone participated and stayed on task with a minimum of idle chit-chat . . . it was hard to be "off task" at CCL. Our CCL leaders (Mike, Karen, and Jonnette) and coaches were fabulous!!

Leaders can be developed!

Consistently build and strengthen my existing network both vertically and laterally remembering it is through giving that our relationships are earned.

Perceptions are not always the messages we are trying to convey to others.

Remember the interconnection between and among: direction, alignment, and commitment as it relates to leadership.

Successful organizations have leaders who focus on maintaining and building networks and trust. I need the support of peers and subordinates, to get the work done. I need to recognize that they are fellow travelers on this challenging journey. This requires listening with an open mind and without judging, and making it a point to tell and show others that they are valued team members. I need to read and learn more about the value of teams to diminish my desire to do everything and fix everything on my own.

Leaders can be empathetic while still maintaining toughness with regards to goals, accountability, focus and perseverance. Effective leaders, however, take the time and effort to invest in others so they may grow professionally.

Leadership is not just about crafting the ultimate set of competencies; it's also about being honest, authentic and human. To become a more effective leader I need to practice some of the suggestions that are found in "FYI" with regard to my particular leadership issues. The ones I really need to focus on involve investing time in getting to know others, active listening, offering support upon request, and supporting the needs of staff members at their request. Instead of delegating, I need to ask probing questions. I need to encourage entrepreneurship and volunteering. I can lead the way with a willingness to learn and try new things--even when the process is not easy and takes more time. But, more importantly, I need to give people time to get things done, and let them know I will be there if they want and ask for my assistance.

In the context of leadership, relationships really do matter. In the context of leadership, however, perceptions sometimes can matter more (for better or worse).

Good resources and structures (CCL) exist to facilitate leadership development endeavors.

The CCL experience was one of my more memorable moments.

I was really impressed with the FIRO-B and Skillscope instruments, and especially enjoyed my time with my personal coach.

Processing it all! That is the challenge. I do not want to rush. I need time to ponder these things and then apply. There are many of my professional responsibility areas where the insights and the training will be of benefit; this has been a wise investment.