Monday, December 21, 2015

On leadership development

In my week break, I find myself reflecting on my experiences in higher ed. One major milestone in my career was leadership development. Many managers may have attended some form of management training, but leading is different than managing.

MOR Associates has a great leadership development program for emerging and current leaders, and I find it helped me develop and hone new skills, and practice those skills to become habits. I was fortunate to be part of the first IT Leaders Program (ITLP) cohort from the University of Minnesota back in 2007, and again in 2010 when we did a special cohort with all the IT Directors from Minnesota. I still use those lessons from ITLP, pretty much every day!

The SWOT exercises are something I use all the time. I'm going through a transition now, leaving the University of Minnesota and joining Ramsey County as the new CIO. In preparing my staff for my departure, I did another SWOT exercise in my last week at Morris.

I also use the three lenses. Are we doing the right thing at the right time? Do I have the right people supporting my idea? What about Cultural? Because Culture really does eat Strategy for breakfast. Change can't always fit within the current culture, but how can I put a new idea into a perspective that people will listen to, that will get past that Culture lens? As Brian says, the art of change management is like the art of politics; it's about disappointing people at a rate they can accept.

And use coaching, both peer coaching with friends and coaching with my staff. Those are really important to me. I like to use those coaching buttons. When I have some time alone with someone, like before a meeting, or walking between buildings after a meeting, I'll ask for little updates from whoever I'm with, like my staff. How's the project going? Did you get a chance to meet with so-and-so? How did that go? And that person will usually tell me where they are struggling, and I'll take that coaching moment to ask a question, to nudge them into thinking about it a different way? “What you're doing is making an argument. That's Rhetoric, right?  We have a Rhetoric department. Have you used your Rhetoric to make that a really strong presentation? Or how you can make that a really compelling case?” And these little breakaway moments usually lead to thinking outside the box.

Anyway, that's a few thoughts on how I use ITLP today. Have a great holiday!
image: MOR Associates (logo)

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