Intentional Leadership

Month: August 2018

Learning about Leading

My learning about leading during the summer semester has revealed to me how much I have grown as a professional. Analysis of the ratings my colleagues reported about me on the Leadership Skills Assessment: 360 Feedback survey showed that I am perceived to have “outstandingly effective” leadership practice (Spencer, 2018). While I knew I was held in high esteem, the ratings were consistent across different organizations and different roles. I was pleased to see I have been consistent in the quality of my leadership practice.

In describing the evidence to support of my own personal rating on the survey, I recognized how I have demonstrated expertise gained early in my career. I used to think I enjoyed staying in the background, working behind the scenes. But reflecting on my career, I see that I have grown steadily into leadership roles that propelled me into the foreground. I appreciate the opportunities I have been given to show my skill, expertise, and intellect.  I suppose I have “paid my dues” in some respects. I have more confidence in myself as a professional and as a leader.

I believe the most extensive impact of my learning will be on my leadership practice. I am now using strategy to build coalitions in my new role as minister of youth and family ministries in a traditional Baptist church with a majority older congregation. I am tasked with revitalizing youth and young adult ministries in a context with scarce human and financial resources. There are long-standing alliances and stakeholders who are accustomed to doing ministry a certain way.

Prior to the summer semester, I would have simply considered what I needed to do within this organization from a structural and human resources perspective. I would have implemented my vision based on improving systemic processes and developing lay leaders. However, now I am strategizing based on the assumptions of the political frame (Bolman & Deal, 2013). I am at the beginning stages of intentionally using strategy. I have pinpointed two mentors who can help me strategize. Working with a mentor is definitely a change in my leadership practice. I typically would have tried to figure things out on my own.

This summer learning has enabled me the space and the tools to see dimensions of myself as a professional that were previously hidden from view. The learning has also given me applicable tools I can immediately implement in my leadership practice.

 

References:

Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2013). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and                             leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Spencer, Q. (2018). Leadership skills assessment. (Unpublished survey analysis).            Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.

My Journey as a Doctoral Student

As I reflect upon being a doctoral student, I have learned a lot that I think will be valuable for me over the next three years. But I will focus on three major learnings from this summer semester. The first thing I find valuable is knowing my learning pattern. After taking the Learning Connections Inventory (Johnston & Dainton, 2003), I have a better understanding of how I can best make learning work for me. My highest scores were 32 of out 35 for precision; 28 out of 25 for sequence; and 25 out of 35 for confluence. As a strong-willed learner, my preference is to work alone and lead from in front. However, this doctoral journey is not a solitary trek, but a cohort is moving along with me. I have a greater understanding of the way I learn and work best. Of the same token, I am more aware of my challenges. My Myers Briggs Type is INTJ. I will have to moderate the Introvert in me, particularly when working in groups with extroverts or more outspoken members of the cohort. Overall, having taken these inventories as part of class learning will enable us as a group to discuss who we have discovered ourselves to be in hopes of working better together as a team.

Speaking of working better together as a team, the five dysfunctions of a team as described by Lencioni (2002) is the second valuable thing I have learned. Lencioni’s (2002) model provides a practical framework for team dynamics and strategies to overcome the most common dysfunctions. In the past, I have been at a loss for how to effectively address what I perceived to be lack of teamwork. I looked at individual behaviors rather than seeing the behaviors as patterns common within teams. Viewing individual team member behaviors using the five dysfunctions concept, removes the temptation to judge the person. Instead, I am more inclined to recognize the behavior as part of what happens when working on teams. As stated previously, learning these concepts as a cohort should enable us to be honest and receptive when we see these dysfunctions during our team processes.

The third valuable learning from this summer was discovering my leadership orientation based on the work of Bolman and Deal (2013). My score on the structural frame was 22 out of 24. My orientation toward the human resources and symbolic frames were almost equal, 13 and 16 respectively. I scored the lowest on the political frame, 9 out of 24. I want to increase my skill in engaging in organizational contexts from the political frame. I am intrigued by the idea of intentionally reframing how I approach complex issues using the political assumptions of coalitions, scarcity of resources, and the need for bargaining and negotiating.

I am hopeful that I can apply this new knowledge to improve my leadership practice throughout the next three years. The summer coursework has certainly laid a good foundation for growth in my leadership practice.

 

References:

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (1998). Self-assessment: Leadership orientations.                    Retrieved from www.leebolman.com/frames_selfrating_scale.htm

Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2003). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and                             leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Johnston, C. and Dainton, G. (2003). LCI: Learning connections inventory.                               Turnersville, NC: Learning Connections Resources.

Lencioni, P. (2002). Five Dysfunctions of a Team. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Myers, P.B. and Myers, K.D. (2015). Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Step I                                     Interpretive Report. Sunnyvale, CA: CPP, Inc.

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