Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting to Know LeaderShape's Program Coordinators

At the beginning of this month, we spent two days with LeaderShape Institute Program Coordinators. We have this meeting each year with these valuable people who partner with LeaderShape to provide the Institute experience to a particular campus, organization, or consortium. The Program Coordinator, or PC as we refer to them, manages the program logistics, recruits participants, facilitators, and guests, and is a top advocate for the program. It’s an exceptionally important role that helps LeaderShape to provide the Institute experience to students all across the country and internationally. 

We interact with the PCs on an on-going basis and want the rest of the LeaderShape community to learn more about this remarkable group and their work with us. We hope you enjoy getting a look at their connection to and work with LeaderShape through their responses to some questions that we posed.

Q: What was your first experience with LeaderShape

Livy K: Student participant, summer 2003

Sonja A: Cluster Facilitator at a national session in 2008

Ashleigh B: Cluster Facilitator at Boise State’s inaugural session of The LeaderShape Institute in 2009

Nadia C: In 2011 a student shared her experience after returning from a session

Waylon H: Attending Program Coordinator Training as the PC for Texas A&M University

Dawn M: Cluster Facilitator

Q: What do you like most about serving as a Program Coordinator?

Katie B: Leading a team of staff and students across South Florida that care deeply about their students and about making a lasting difference in their lives. Also, promoting a curriculum that I trust wholeheartedly is one of my favorite parts of this role.

Livy K: I get to set up the amazing transformational experience for new people to enter the LeaderShape family.

Sonja A: I value being able to provide students with an opportunity to have an experience that will give them intentional time to reflect on themselves and their life's path. I also value opening the LeaderShape community to my colleagues who serve as faculty for the Institute.

Ashleigh B: The role allows me to connect with my strengths with an experience that is powerful for students. I also love the opportunity to learn from other practitioners through PC Training and the Co-Leads during the week.

Q: What are people most surprised about when they participate in The LeaderShape Institute?

Dawn M: Our participants always describe how surprised they were that they were able to connect so deeply to their family cluster. Personal sharing is modeled as a part of the process, and a safe yet challenging environment is created to do so productively.

Waylon H: I think people are most surprised by how deep conversations can get and how close to home some of the activities hit students.

Katie B: Participants and faculty seem to be the most surprised that no matter how many other leadership training opportunities they have had, they leave LeaderShape more “rocked”, changed, moved, and seemingly energized to follow through on their vision.

Ashleigh B: That’s it is not all “kumbayah” around the camp fire. They are challenged in ways they never expected and make meaningful connections to other students who seem very different from them.

Sonja A: The community and relationships that are built in such a short time frame.

Livy K: The Cluster Facilitators always think that they are just donating their time for students to grow, but they personally benefit from the personal reflection and professional development provided by their staff role.

Q: What would you say to someone to encourage them to attend The LeaderShape Institute?

Nadia C: The LeaderShape experience gives you direction. If you haven’t put much thought towards how you’d make your mark on the world, LeaderShape encourages and challenges you to do so. You also learn how to become a more effective leader in your own right. From personal feedback to group discussions on hot topic issues, LeaderShape covers it all.

Dawn M: The LeaderShape curriculum will challenge you to think critically about the things you are most passionate about, while empowering and preparing you to take action – even if it seems like the impact will be small, it’s all about the ripple effect!

Livy K: This is an invaluable opportunity to step back and reflect on where you come from, strengths that you have to offer, what you want to devote your time to, how to find partners for positive change, and how each individual can impact the world in amazing ways. Take the plunge and enter a close-knit community of motivated people looking to improve the world, one day at a time.

Ashleigh B: Just do it. If you don’t think you are a leader, do it. If you think you ARE a leader, do it. If you are afraid to do it, do it. If you are unsure, do it. Just do it.

Q: What is your hope for participants when they attend The LeaderShape Institute?

Sonja A: I hope they learn something new about themselves, form a relationship with someone who they would not have in the past, and learn a process of visioning and goal setting that they can apply to multiple facets of their life.

Waylon H: My highest hope for participants is that they learn something new about themselves. Through critical thought and reflection I hope participants really think about the world they want and why they want it. I hope they invest in the experience, engage in discussion, and listen intently.

Nadia C: That they leave changed for the better; encouraged and motivated. And that they realize that they don’t have to be Oprah or Gandhi to make their mark on the world.

Katie B: That they leave on fire for the vision of LeaderShape, specifically, an understanding and passion for leading with a healthy disregard for the impossible. A belief in possibility.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Collaboration: a #Day7 post

The action of working with someone to produce or create something

The LeaderShape staff is in Chicago for Program Coordinator Training this week and one of the recurring themes for our time together is collaboration. And although we are considering the idea of collaboration in relation to planning The LeaderShape Institute, it certainly applies to many situations we encounter throughout life.

When thinking about the passions and visions that LeaderShapers want to pursue, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with inspiration and by the amount of dedication it takes to reach the end goal. There’s also the work part of it, too. Any of us could feel, at times, overwhelmed with all that is involved when striving to reach our goals, to pursue our passions, and to make an impact on our communities.

Here’s the thing though. We aren’t alone.

We do not have to carry the burden and joys of this work alone. We can connect with other people to create something extraordinary. We can collaborate.

What is the next goal you have ahead of you? Is there more you need to learn to move forward? Are their talents beyond your own skill set that could contribute to reaching these goals? Who do you know (or who can get to know) who shares a commitment to the same passions and can energize and help drive

There is more beyond knowing what work is to be done and determining who can join us in our efforts. It’s important to be intentional about putting the tenets of collaboration to work.

As the LeaderShape staff continues to expand our own knowledge and practices around collaboration, we have come across so many resources to inform our work. Below are just a few that might also support you as you connect with others to work towards common goals with success.

Do you have any resources to add? If so, please share them in the comments.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Book Review: Think Like A Freak

I'll be honest that I haven't been reading as much as I usually do. Most of that is an issue of the summer and being busy coaching baseball, doing yard work, taking and picking up kids from camp, and work. Mostly work. However, I've gotten back into it with a vengeance and began tackling the pile of books that has accumulated over that time. I do love my Kindle, but there is something to holding the book, dog-earing pages, and using a highlighter. Thus, the stack. I really did intend to read them when I bought them. Honest. Be warned though, I read more on the edges of leadership these days given that most of what is written about leadership these days seems to be repackaged. I must be getting old.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot these days about asking good questions because I believe that most of the major issues we face in the world are a result of asking bad questions. Asking questions of "who is to blame" instead of "what are WE going to do about it," is just one example. So I'm gravitating to books that help me think more clearly, more often, and more openly. I found a really good one that you should pick up by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner…two economists…hang with me.

They are the authors of Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics, and their latest Think Like a Freak. All of them made me go "hmmm" out loud because they look at issues, problems, and challenges from the perspective of asking good questions to get at the root cause not just what it would appear to be on the surface. Our news comes to us pre-washed and shrunk to sizes that apparently we consume best – two sentence tweets. With that, we miss nuance, debate, perspective, the works. I truly believe that if we moved past the lens that we have crafted to see the world and actually see the world for what it is, many of these challenges facing us could actually be addressed. 

Kicking the can down the road is not a solution any more. We will continue to find ourselves asking why we are in the same place as we were years before. Being economists, the authors write a lot about incentives and how to truly influence other people. As LeaderShapers, we embrace living in possibility every day and thinking about how best to influence others and ask good questions seems like an exercise worth doing.  I would pick up Think Like a Freak as it is their latest and I think best book. I think you will really enjoy reading it. It's hard to put down.

On to the next book in the stack.  Here we go…


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Catalyst: A Reflection

Earlier this month the LeaderShape Staff and our amazing Catalyst Facilitators took a few days to go on a retreat. We found a location that was quiet, that allowed for individual reflection, connecting with others and having conversations that matter. It was a great reminder of how important it is to take an opportunity (every once in a while) to slow down, look around, breathe, appreciate the goodness that surrounds you, and consider what is next.

And that is exactly what we did. We spent our time talking about what the future holds for Catalyst. The Catalyst program started nine years ago in response to a need LeaderShape saw for a one-day program that shared some of the themes of The LeaderShape Institute. We recognized at that time that not everyone is able to take 6 days to attend The LeaderShape Institute. It is often times very difficult to take time away from work, family, classes, friends, and every day life. We don’t want that to be a reason why people can’t be a part of the LeaderShape community of individuals working to create a more just, caring and thriving world.

With that as our foundation, our group talked about all of the ways our curriculum can be changed, enhanced, reinforced and modified to give each participant a great LeaderShape experience. Whether you spend 6 days or 6 hours at a LeaderShape program, in the time you are there we want each participant to find their experience personally rewarding and one which they walk away learning more about themselves and others. We look forward to what lies ahead for Catalyst in 2015. Keep an eye out for a new look, a new curriculum, and a continued dedication to helping participants identify their values, connect with something they care about, and make a change in the world around them.

Upon reflection, the retreat was just what we needed organizationally to refocus, reconnect, and continue to work with participants to make change in the world. What started as a simple meeting turned into so much more as we embraced the concept of going on a retreat. It is a piece that, in the hurry up, fast paced world we live in, we don’t take enough time for. Yet it is so very valuable. Through the Catalyst program thousands of people have the opportunity, for one day, to live in a world of possibility and as an organization, we are thrilled to be with each one of them for that day!

Interested in learning more about Catalyst? Visit the Catalyst FAQs post from last week.