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Conduct Monthly Coaching Conversations

The Leadership Challenge points out that developing competence and confidence in others is a key component of enabling them to act.

The following questions are suggested as part of monthly “coaching conversations” between supervisors and supervisees, but I think they would apply well to one-on-ones with student advisees as well!

  • Where are we going?
  • Where are you going?
  • What are you doing well?
  • What suggestions for improvement do you have for yourself?
  • How can I help you?
  • What suggestions do you have for me?
08.30.13 2
Implement a Peer Instruction Program

If wetruly adopt the belief that everyone is (or can be) a leader then we must also adopt the belief that we have something to learn about leadership from everyone.

Thus: What better way to develop as leaders than to learn from the successes and failures that others share?

A peer instruction program is just that: an opportunity for individuals to share their past experiences with the group and allow others to critically reflect on them.

I can’t wait to use this in a student program!

08.29.13 0

This video of a sophomore student welcoming his first-year peers at Georgia Tech went viral a couple of weeks ago, but here’s one afterthought from Nicholas Selby on public speaking:

If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. Not many people get the privilege of getting a few thousand people in a room who have to listen to you. You owe it to yourself and to everyone in the audience to make sure the entire room is having a blast.

(quote source)

08.28.13 0
Begin with the assumption that in the future you’ll be interacting with this person in some way, and both you and the whole society will be better served.

The Leadership Challenge, on facilitating relationships

08.27.13 2
Facilitate Relationships at Work

The Leadership Challenge gives some great examples of ways to get people interacting and facilitate relationship-building. I’ve seen a lot of these implemented in higher ed. Would you add anything to the list?

  • Put chairs outside of your office, and hold some one-on-ones and meetings in the open when appropriate.
  • Make sure the fridge, coffee & microwave are in a common area, not a corner.
  • Hold “pre-shift” meetings (at the beginning of the day) in different locations or workplaces.
  • Start formal meetings with 5-10 minutes of community building. (You know we’re good at that in higher ed!)
  • Put food in the middle of the table, not in corners.
  • Hold small celebrations in fun, public workplaces.
  • Rotate team meeting leadership so everyone has a turn. (Alternately, rotate responsibility for a brief professional development tip or activity.)
08.26.13 0
Collaboration is a social imperative - without it you can’t get extraordinary things done in organizations.

The fourth main characteristic of leaders - as identified by Kouzes & Posner - is to enable others to act. This has to start with collaboration and trust.

I’m the first to say that sometimes, I just prefer to work alone. There’s no denying that I get “more done more quickly” that way. But this question must be asked: when I work alone, is the product as good as it could have been? And is everyone gaining a valuable experience?

Those are rhetorical questions.

As a GA I can already see that there will be times when it seems that it would be easier if “I just took care of that” for a student group. I must remember that a huge part of my role is not to act, but to enable others to do so.

08.25.13 0
Challenge Accepted.

Remember when everyone said this because it was cool? It usually meant the speaker of the words was about to do something - well, stupid, for lack of a better word. Let’s look at it differently.

View change as a challenge - sometimes meant to be accepted, sometimes not. 

Disruptive change demands significant commitment and sacrifice, but the positive feelings associated with forward progress generate momentum that enables you to ride out the storm.

08.24.13 1
Create an environment in which each mistake becomes a collective learning experience.

The Leadership Challenge.

BOOM. This is what I want in a workplace.

08.23.13 0
Experiment, take risks, and learn

A natural component of challenging the process is for leaders to experiment and take risks. Kouzes & Posner stress that the goal of experimentation is to generate small wins and learn from experience. Progress often comes step-by-step. The key is to learn from each step, even if it is a step backward.

The Leadership Challenge highlights four approaches to learning, all of which are correlated with good leadership practices:

  • Taking action - trial and error
  • Thinking - read articles
  • Feeling - confronting the self
  • Accessing others - bouncing thoughts around

Whether I succeed or fail in individual ventures, I strive to learn from each one.

08.22.13 0
Be “tempered radicals” - cautious catalysts whose small victories, won over time, lay the groundwork for something grander.

The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes & Posner

08.21.13 0
Challenge with Purpose.

Challenging the process is another characteristic of leaders that is examined in detail in The Leadership Challenge. The bottom line of this chapter is that the work of leaders is change, going to places yet undiscovered. To get there, a leader must seize the initiative, but be purposeful in what s/he challenges. True leaders don’t challenge or change things “just because” - they perceive what could be different that would make “it” (life, a product, a club, etc.) better.

How does this apply to college students? I speak from personal experience when I say that students like to leave a mark. Making change is perceived to look good on a resume. It makes one feel important, and it change in itself can feel purposeful (even if it isn’t). Our task as advisors, mentors, supervisors is to ask: what is the status quo that you are trying to change - and will changing it add or detract value from the experience?

08.20.13 0
Innovation requires more listening and communication than does routine work. Leaders guiding change must establish more relationships, connect with more sources of information, and get out and walk around more frequently.

The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes & Posner

08.19.13 4
You have to Animate your Vision

This chapter of The Leadership Challenge - about how leaders must enlist others to inspire a shared vision - caused me to reminisce about LeaderShape. (For anyone who isn’t familiar, LeaderShape is an in-depth, transformational, week-long leadership experience that guides students to develop as leaders and identify their personal, values-based visions for the world.)

Anyways - it made me realize that a vision can be so [insert powerful adjective here] but to thrive and come to fruition that vision needs others to believe in it, too. I loved these tips about animating your vision:

  • Use symbolic language - metaphors, stories, etc.
  • Make images of the future with vivid descriptions
  • Practice positive communication (affirming others)
  • Express your emotions
  • ALWAYS speak from the heart
08.18.13 2
The Janus Effect- look forward, look back

Next in our series of characteristics of leadership, from The Leadership Challenge, is that leaders inspire a shared vision - and to do that, a leader must be able to envision the future.

This chapter uses the Janus Effect - named after the Roman god - to explain that individuals who first reflect on the past are able to project further into the future, and give that future more detail. 

This reminds me of my student government experience. While I can’t say I consistently excelled in thinking about why something had been done in the past… I can say that when I tried to understand the decisions and context that came before me, the result of my actions was much more positive.

Look forward, look back.

08.17.13 2
Zoom Another piece of modeling the way as a leader is to set the example and personify the shared values.
When I worked in New Student & Family Programs at Boise State, we always said during training that you never stop being an orientation leader. Behavioral integrity comes from being so aligned to the shared values that you are not just willing to live them out in all ways of life, but you truly want to live by the shared values. 
A few concrete ways to personify shared values, and teach others to model them:
Spend your time on what you really value
Be intentional with your language
Ask purposeful questions. What have you done in the past week to improve so that you are better this week than last?
Seek feedback about your work
Confront critical incidents
Tell stories that tie in your values
Reinforce behavior you want repeated

Another piece of modeling the way as a leader is to set the example and personify the shared values.

When I worked in New Student & Family Programs at Boise State, we always said during training that you never stop being an orientation leader. Behavioral integrity comes from being so aligned to the shared values that you are not just willing to live them out in all ways of life, but you truly want to live by the shared values. 

A few concrete ways to personify shared values, and teach others to model them:

  • Spend your time on what you really value
  • Be intentional with your language
  • Ask purposeful questions. What have you done in the past week to improve so that you are better this week than last?
  • Seek feedback about your work
  • Confront critical incidents
  • Tell stories that tie in your values
  • Reinforce behavior you want repeated
08.16.13 0