What stands out to you/has surprised you about your leadership development through the Fellowship to date?
Initially I believed I would become an authentic, inclusive and innovative leader by improving my communication skills, increasing industry credibility, and expanding my network. However, over the the past year, I have discovered that intentionally practicing and living my core values of authenticity, inclusion, and innovation, I have accelerated my capacity to be an effective leader.
The past year, I have spent a lot of time working closely with my coach to understand at a deep level my values, discover how my values look in practice, and critically examine if I do or do not express them (behaviorally). In the process, I have discovered that practicing Inclusion is making me a better communicator, living authentically has lead to industry credibility, and Innovation is expanding my social capital.
The courage to speak up—to challenge others and the status quo—is a central behavior of an inclusive leader, and it occurs at three levels: with others, with the system, and with myself. Challenging others has been a focus for for me and it includes challenging team member to see their behaviors and the impact they have on others; and challenging entrenched organizational attitudes and practices that promote homogeneity. Being an agent for change has been met with cynicism and challenges from others. Daily, I am required to exhibit courage to speak up and effectively communication a different or new way to be. Effective communication begins with listening in order to understand other perspectives. When I take the time to truly understand different points of view, I am in a better position to thoughtfully share my ideas as well and challenge long standing beliefs and be an agent for change.
I am learning that to be an authentic leaders requires an attitude of humility. Humility encompasses learning from criticism and different points of view, as well as seeking contributions from others to overcome one’s limitations. As leaders we are expected to have or know all of the answers, yet we do not. Courage and humility therefore go hand in hand. The past year, I have to push myself to learn and admit they don’t know everything. When I admit to myself that I do not know everything, I place myself in a position to learn and involve myself in experiences that increases my industry knowledge.
Innovation means to continuous improve, and to continuously improve requires collaboration. For me, collaboration involves three basic aspects: people/relationships, process and progress. Collaboration means to work together (people/relationships) toward (process) something in common (outcomes/progress). In my quest to be more innovative, I have been forced to build collaborative relationships, because it takes more than one person, group or organization to address challenges and push for change. I have developed new relationships developed across sectors, disciplines and areas of study. My Interdisciplinary networks, especially those that include younger professionals and diverse ethnic groups, have revealed answers to persistent challenges and new intersections where none were easily apparent; and yielded greater returns.