Brave is Good/Prepared is Better - Networking is Good/Investing is Better - Lessons are Good/Change is Better

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As I sit here before our last dinner and day together as a formal group, I remember our first day together and my inherent skepticism about whether this program would be much different from other leadership programs. I seem to have neglected the obvious difference between one week long leadership programs and eight month long leadership programs in my initial assessment. Although this is a bit late from its original due date, I hope it is now a better read than its original draft state. Just a few things that I know will stick with me and positively contribute to my continued growth as a leader…

Brave is Good. Prepared is Better.

Where do I even begin redemption? I don’t know if it was nature or nurture that gave me a steady confidence to face acceptably uncomfortable situations head on, but I have always been comfortable with being brave, speaking up in meetings, raising my hand to go first, etc. However, since driving home after my crash and burn leadership journey and saying out loud to myself in the car “what the hell was that”, I almost  immediately answered myself with “apparently, a learning moment” – I just had to figure out what I was supposed to learn. Since then, “being brave is good, being prepared is better” has been a mantra in my head repeatedly. I guess this ties nicely with what I read today, “courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”. I have found myself listening more in meetings, not offering an immediate answer when my boss asks a question in large meetings in order to prepare my thoughts more and (perhaps even more importantly) not being so brazen with my partner (listening more, preparing my response a little more). I acknowledge this will be an ongoing process, but I have at least now begun. The definitions of courage and bravery have changed for me during the course of the program (for the better), so thank you all.

Networking is Good. Investing is Better.

We likely all go to conferences. We likely all have connections on LinkedIn. We likely all reach out to a colleague or two at other schools to talk about a similar project they have worked on for lessons learned. I have considered myself pretty good at networking, with colleagues literally all over the world. However, I have realized the “i” of investing is much more important for real connections and that investing begins with “i” (me). I am working on making more conscious efforts to invest in professional relationships in order to make the genuine connection required for lasting results that leave a legacy (for both parties involved). Thank you all for investing some of yourself in me. 

Lessons are Good. Change is Better.

I shared with my MOR coach, Curtis, that I came to a realization along this journey that the MOR program was giving us amazing tools but its core purpose was to change us as leaders and that I finally understood that as these tools/practices become more natural to me I would see real change as a leader. I experienced evidence in that recently with a new hire. One of my goals was to become less task focused and more people focused. I specifically wanted to work on genuine public acknowledgement of good work (although I feel I had been good at private acknowledgement). At my September monthly all staff meeting, I continued this new practice of public acknowledgment of my staff. After the meeting, our new Lead Communications Coordinator who had only been with our team for about three weeks came up to me and said how much she appreciated all of my kind words toward the staff and felt that her decision to join us was the right one. Of course, I thanked her for sharing that and was glad she was on the team. I even told her that I appreciated her confidence to come provide me that feedback and that my door was always open for feedback of any kind. When she walked away, I smiled to myself thinking “little does she know, that’s kind of a new thing”. However, walking back to my office, I took the time to associate that event with the change in myself as a leader. It’s happening. It will be a long journey. There will be ups and downs. The lessons have been great, but evidence of the change has been better.

Thank you to MOR. Thank you to my peer coaches Jon Russell and Nicholas Taylor. Thank you all for an incredible eight months. I genuinely hope that we find ways and time to reconnect along our continued journey.

 

Danna Gianforte
Stanford University

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