A week ago today, I officially completed the coursework and requirements for my M.A. in Leadership degree when I shared my capstone portfolio presentation to a diverse audience of faculty, family and friends. As a part of this final component to my program, I shared about my growth and development in leadership competencies but also presented my philosophy of leadership. After classes and lectures, papers and projects, reading and research, I’ve developed my own philosophy, as found below, for your consideration and review…
To lead is to have a deep awareness of self before sharing with others, encouraging trust in the lives of those who follow through vulnerability, enabling them to do the same in a transformational process creating positive change.
I invite your feedback and thoughts in the hopes of engaging different perspectives in a continued dialogue of what makes for good leadership. I look forward to this weekend’s graduation as I continue to see my perspective and philosophy grow with time.
Last week marked a milestone on “The Millennial Journey” as I looked back at two years of sharing my ideas and thoughts on leadership, culture and five generations at work together. I began this online endeavor in between professional seasons and I find myself back here again as I continue the road towards completing my M.A. in Leadership Development (just two months away!) and looking for what meaningful opportunity is next for me. Perhaps, the most significant thought that has remained constant over my two years here has been the process of “journey.” Whether it is change taking place at your organization or listening to your calling & vocation (as one of my favorites, Parker Palmer writes) or living your life in a mindset of never arriving; recognizing that you have much more to learn and understand–we each have a journey or two in the multifaceted lives that we live each day.
Back in October 2010 when this “online journey” began, I wrote…
“I begin this blog with a full mind, complete of passions, thoughts, ideas and much, much more.”
A full two years later, I continue with the same mind (now just overflowing) with new lessons and knowledge to unpack as I look ahead to the journey in the future.
I’m in the midst of a writing project (that I’ll be sharing more about in a few weeks) and have recently been working through the title of this blog post as a central thought. In these days of continued and unprecedented global change, especially with revolutions and movements for change in several countries, our understanding of the role of the “follower” has developed considerably. Several believe that these events have taken place because leaders have failed to recognize and understand those who follow them.
In my experience, I’ve realized that in order to learn how to lead well, you need to learn how to follow.
What say you?
As I’ve been blogging here about my journey as a Millennial, I’ve shared about lessons and learning in my life that have shaped me and taught me much about life as I continue growing in my personal and professional future.
A week ago today, I began a new and unexpected chapter. According to Forbes, 13.5% of Americans aged 20-24 and 9.3% of those 25-29 years old are currently unemployed. I now join these statistics of unemployed Millennials. As has been the case at companies and organizations across the country, rightsizing has resulted in my position being eliminated.
Looking ahead towards the rest of 2012 and the completion of my graduate program, I am eager to find new opportunities that fit my passion and strengths for developing people in teams and organizations. If you or anyone in your networks want to connect, I am actively engaged on LinkedIn and you can always tweet me @MillennialTweet.
Here’s to continued learning and future growth in this new chapter on “The Millennial Journey…”
It’s been just over a week since I took in all the ideas and thoughts presented at this year’s Chick-fil-a Leadercast event. As I sat at the simulcast site, listening to each speaker, taking notes on quote-worthy thoughts and what not, I was struck by one of the opening talks by Burberry’s CEO, Angela Ahrendts who spoke masterfully about her experience transforming the company culture and a 150 year old brand into a sustainable one for a new generation of digital consumers and Millennial leaders.
“Intuition is the greatest output of trust in a strong culture.”
This main point that she mentioned during her talk has resonated with me for days. She continued to speak about her company empowering employees to be intuitive. Subsequently, Burberry has achieved record low turnover and retained their talent. Her talk made me think about the organizational culture(s) that each of us find ourselves in and out of each day. We work within a culture, led by a boss, usually a department head or supervisor. We work within a larger culture in the organization that we go to every day. We may volunteer for a church group, charity or school activity that also has a culture of its own. Cultures and subcultures are countless in number and shape the work that we do as we shape the organizations around us.
As you think about your week thus far, have you been explicitly empowered to act/serve/lead from your own sense of intuition? If the answer is no, then I would guess that your organization has some missing and needed elements of trust–either between you and your immediate supervisor or even on a larger organizational scale–embedded in the culture or DNA of your organization.
How can you look to the rest of the week with a different perspective? Challenge those in your circles of influence to act intuitively and watch the results unfold where people can be empowered and feel free to do their work in an environment rooted in trust and an organization with an intuitive culture.
Are you a part of an intuitive culture? I’m interested in hearing about what this looks like for you. Let me know!
As a part of my graduate school journey, I’m continuing living and learning leadership through courses and projects in and around the classroom setting that I’m in twice a week. One of my current courses is called Creative and Collaborative Leadership and has focused on identifying individual differences through a myriad of assessments and appreciating them in a collaborative setting. Most specifically, I’ve recently been collecting these assessments that I completed and as a part of an assignment have developed my own approach to learning or what is called a PLS.
PLS = Personal Learning Strategy
This strategy is rooted in life experiences in my personal and professional journey thus far that have shaped me into the learning leader that I am today. Thomas writes about these as “crucibles” or in other words, significant life changing events that impact your direction and future. I have had plenty of those that have in large part redirected my pathways along the journey of my life. My assessment results tell me that I learn best in an environment where I can engage in Active Experimentation. Kolb says that this involves taking risks and doing things. This is definitely a clear theme in regards to how I approach life as well as my strategy towards learning. I strive to be active in my work, thinking and living and gain energy from experimenting along the way, whether it be through different team dynamics, changing responsibilities, developing new projects or ideas, etc.
As I think about my PLS through the lens of my strengths, I most definitely resort to my primary theme of Strategic. This strength keeps me engaged from a macro-view of my life and the learning that is taking place. I aim to be strategic in the process of learning but also see a plan of action from a larger scale and vantage point. This continues to drive much of my approach to learning as a leader in my present day contexts.
Altogether, my personal learning strategy is rooted in change. Whether it’s taking a risk or being actively experimenting with a concept or topic in the course of my work or studies, I am motivated and engaged when I am able to see people and systems beyond the course of their present state. It is my hope that as I continue to learn and grow as a leader, I will be able to meet these motivations and form them into a reality of developing people and organizations well into the future of my professional journey.
As I continue my coursework as a part of my graduate program in leadership development, I’m learning, reading and studying quite a wide array of issues and topics. After just finishing a course looking at gendered differences in leadership through the eyes of film, I’ve found myself much more aware and sensitive to things that I read, experiences that I have and discussions that I come across these days. One of the primary texts from this course that I just completed looks at this discussion of women and leadership through the metaphor of a labyrinth. For years, we have all heard about the imaginary “glass ceiling” that women would need to break in order to be successful in upper level management positions in companies and organizations. However, as the research has progressed over time, the metaphor of a labyrinth has come into the discussion, as the obstacles to women succeeding in leadership aren’t solely based on rank within an organization but are prevalent throughout. This new metaphor seems to be even more disheartening to me as you can imagine the idea of a maze without end, replete with twists and turns in the form of organizational norms, cultural artifacts and other stereotypes that exist.
On a related note, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook has recently spoke about women and success in a number of different venues. In the course that I just completed, we took some time to watch her TED talk which I found to be very poignant, but most recently, Sandberg participated in a panel in Davos at this year’s World Economic Forum and got quite a bit of press. Her remarks (which I highly recommend you taking 6 minutes to watch) identified an “ambition gap” between men and women which she feels has contributed to the overall lack of equality in success for women in today’s workplace. Sandberg’s comments were obviously thought-provoking but also telling as our world continues to have conversations about women in leadership in our churches, companies, and organizations where they still are not identified as “successful” as their male counterparts.
Studies have indeed found that women, in some areas, are not as ambitious as men. However, regardless of your response to Sandberg’s comments in Davos, I think we all most be struck by her attention towards raising girls in today’s society. As we witness remarkable changes in virtually every sector of business in today’s marketplace including historic movement in world affairs and daily developments in technology, one can’t help but ask, “what will the world look like in 20__.” Absent any ideas about flying hovercrafts or new innovations in business, how will the next generation of women in the workplace respond to this continued conversation of their limited opportunities for success? Or, do we have a culture and systems in place across organizations and societies that will only continue to limit opportunity unless they are changed?
Do you believe there is an “ambition gap” between men & women?
Seasons marks the passage of time in a variety of ways for each us in different areas of life. For me, the changing of seasons from summer to fall seemed to pass quickly–and yet when I realize this, I just want to slow time down a bit. When I’m having conversations with colleagues or classmates or even overhearing people talk in the checkout line about “I can’t wait for (insert time of year/holiday) just to get here,” I wonder if we ever appreciate the present season/time of life, not just the physical season that is reflective of the weather outside (maybe not in Southern California!) Whether it be Starbucks rolling out their “holiday red” on my coffee cup the day after Halloween (in my opinion, disregarding Thanksgiving) or each one of us wanting to push onward to “what’s next” at some point in life, we can miss what is in store for us personally and collectively if we are not sitting in the present season and appreciating what is taking place.
I’ve been examining seasons in many different facets of my life; in my professional life working in organizational development, working with the seniors in my high school small group at church, and more recently as a graduate student finishing a course called, Understanding Vocation in a Changing World. This was definitely one of the most impactful courses that I’ve taken thus far in my graduate school journey, discussing issues and topics like calling, vocation, work, transitions and these seasons of our personal and professional lives that undergo change. One of my favorite authors, Parker Palmer has much to say about the life seasons that we experience, especially thus dealing with our vocation and work. In Let Your Life Speak, he writes about letting things come to a close in autumn, testing the depth of our limits in winter, developing ground for growth and rebirth to occur in spring and coming together and sharing our common story in summer.
There is value in each of these with lessons to learn as well. The challenge is for each of us to be content with where we are, saving the present experiences and keeping them in our mind while understanding that we will continue to change in the seasons that lie ahead.
Are you presently in a certain season of work, school or family life? Do you see things differently know then you did in the past? What has taken place in the present that will prepare you for the future?