Emerging Leaders: Reflection, Learning & Practice

Emerging Leaders is a career development program offered by the Your Association and the DDJ Myers Advancing Leadership Institute.  The program includes nine days of face-to-face training, coaching, mentoring, and project work between sessions.

 “The right conversation with the wrong mood is the wrong conversation.”

A substantial takeaway during week two of the Emerging Leaders program was reflection.

In other words, take a step back and assess the situation before making a decision. Before Emerging Leaders, I often did the opposite. Stopping myself has become a daily ritual in both my personal and professional lives.

Conversations revolved around increasing productivity and enhancing our members’ experiences at work to prioritizing fix-it projects at home; even the simple “what’s for dinner” question—all very valid topics that should be discussed. Finding the right opportunity can sometimes feel like a game of Tetris.

Assessing the other person’s mood and mine, centering myself before engaging in the conversation and listening to the other person’s requests are all tools in the Language of Leadership from Emerging Leaders that I try to practice regularly.

Discovery is Learning

Another discovery was in self-assessment.

For example, I spoke with my coach, Susan Gear, about my desire to work on articulation to improve my communication skills. This is an area where I thought I was lacking. Her assessment, to my surprise, was just the opposite.

I have often used the phrase “we’re our own worst critic.” In this case, it was true. Had I not asked her for her assessment, I would not have discovered that what I thought was apparent, really wasn’t. And while effective communication is still an area I will continue to work on, I have begun focusing on other aspects of that.

Practice Makes Perfect

At times without realizing it, I have found myself using techniques I’ve learned thus far and seeing the benefits it brings.

At home one night I was having a discussion with my son around a new, sensitive topic. Seeing him struggle with it, I encouraged him to center himself, take a deep breath, think about the words he wanted to say and then let the words flow. Soon, the words began to spill out of him. It was entirely a reflection conversation but was the most insightful one for me. I felt brought us closer together than before.

In the same week, I had a conversation with an employee who was frustrated about a particular situation. What she envisioned for the situation was not the decision that was made, and it left her disheartened and unengaged. Our discussion quickly shifted into high gear and focused on what actions she could do to better align results with expectations.

Also in the same week, I scheduled a meeting with my CEO to discuss details of my project. I came prepared with an agenda of specifics to cover to keep our conversation on-track. Even so, at one point I felt the conversation derailing. I used the opportunity to exercise my leadership voice, making a request about my project and bringing us back on track. Being the leader he is, he immediately recognized what I did, called me out on it, and gave us both a chuckle.

Whether intentional or not, I have actively tried to recognize when a situation presents itself that allows me to apply my new tools. While I may not be perfect at knowing which tool to use in any scenario, I know that with practice it will become second nature. Seeing results in more productive conversations has given me the confidence to continue practicing.

I am anxiously waiting what is in store for week three and what new techniques I will learn and can apply. Stay tuned for another solid week.

Check back for Jennifer’s final installment on Emerging Leaders in the coming weeks!

Attend the Emerging Leaders Breakfast at the MAXX 2016 Annual Convention, Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. For more information on Emerging Leaders 2016, contact NWCUA Project Manager Holly Miller at hmiller@nwcua.org or 503.350.2220.

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, ehorvath@nwcua.org.

Posted in NWCUA.