One of the benefits of the MOR leadership program is that the support and engagement doesn’t stop when the in-person workshop is over. We have a regular series of follow-up activities, which include meetings with the other MOR leadership participants at our organizations, meetings with our peer coaches and with our leadership mentors. We also are each assigned a week to offer a reflection to the entire MOR leadership cohort. This is my week to send out a reflection — below is what I wrote:
Greetings ITLP colleagues,
Was it only three weeks ago that we were all together in Palo Alto? Maybe it is the weather, maybe the regular crush of the day-to-day, but it feels like more time has passed. Vanessa’s observation on the challenges of incorporating our leadership lessons into daily practice is mirrored by my own experience. And her advice to focus on small, regular steps, is very helpful.
Support and encouragement from our Yale peer group has been instrumental in getting me on track, applying the techniques. I will admit, it was a slow start. In fact it was only last week, after our first group meeting and a very productive peer coaching session (thanks Lec!) that it became clear how to get myself started. Part of the struggle is I have existing management practices in place. For instance I already have strategies for managing email and work calendars. And feeling comfortable with how those work, it is difficult to see the value in changing current practices. But isn’t feeling uncomfortable, willing to break old habits, one of the challenges we are faced with?
In my role as interim director of the Academic Administration Technologies group I have been holding monthly staff meetings, where we have followed a standard news and notes type of agenda. Which results in me doing most of the talking. Comfortable, but not the most engaging of meeting formats. This week I decided to break out of the old mold, and engaged the team in a current state exercise utilizing the SWOT analysis methodology, focusing on our team, and our relationships with clients and the other IT units. The group is a mix of a dozen programmers and technical analysts, 60% staff and 40% contractors. And not always the most talkative or forthcoming bunch. But they came alive as we handed out the post-it notepads and got to work sticking ideas into the respective SWOT sections. A lot of good ideas came out with clear themes, and led to a very engaging discussion, with even the quiet people around the table actively participating. It was by far the best meeting I have had with the group. At our next meeting we will break up into groups to identify the 3 – 5 key themes in each section, and focus on action steps we can take together.
With mid-year staff reviews coming up this week with my direct reports I plan to continue to embrace the uncomfortable, and invite their feedback on my own leadership of the group, and their thoughts on how we can work more effectively together. And practice the methods we covered in day one of our Palo Alto workshop, owning my feedback and keeping it specific, descriptive and well-timed.