Leading by Example

Written by Jennie Yelvington, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager for HR Organization and Professional Development.

As we contemplate a gradual return to work and the return of students in the fall, there is much to consider. New processes, new protocols and new challenges all impact our culture and how we move forward together in that transition. In times of change, leaders set the tone and their behavior conveys messages, intentional or not, about the importance of decisions made, and our values as an institution. This is considerable pressure, given that the same leaders are also dealing with the change themselves. Navigating this terrain isn’t easy, but as the title of this Harvard Business Review article suggests, Like it or Not, You Are Always Leading by Example. The article asks leaders to consider: what things do you consciously model, emphasize and communicate, and why? Does it have an impact on behavior? What influences what you choose to emphasize (your boss, values, etc.)?

Here are some strategies to consider as you pave the way.

  1. Model Self-Certainty Amidst Uncertainty: Changes occur daily, and the current situation leaves little that is predictable, which can leave many feeling considerable anxiety. Self-certainty isn’t being a “know it all”, rather it means to be grounded in values and confident in your ability to work together with others to find solutions no matter what the future holds. This helps to reduce anxiety and lead to better problem-solving. Leaders are encouraged to reflect on the tone they are setting. The Forbes article Leading Through Uncertainty: Six Ways to Navigate the Unchartered notes, “think of yourself as an emotional barometer, setting the emotional temperature for those in your charge, giving them cues for how they should respond.”
  2. Model Empathy and Compassion: This may not come easily to all (even if they feel empathy and compassion) but modeling it at this time is critical. As outlined in the Yale Insights article Leading Through COVID: Manage Your Team with Empathy, “people who are scared are not going to be productive or move in any kind of cohesive direction. The human thing, the kind thing, is to start every conversation with the simple question: ‘How are you? I just want to check in on you.’ Right now, showing empathy is the most important thing you can do for productivity, performance, innovation, retention—for any meaningful outcome.” Also remember, you are setting an example for your team, encouraging them to do the same for each other.
  3. Model a Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): If you say DEI is important to you but laugh along or ignore microaggressions (or macroaggressions), people learn a lesson about your priorities and sincerity. Do you honor preferred pronouns? Have you educated yourself about the experiences of marginalized communities? Are you considering that COVID-19 has impacted people differently depending on a multitude of factors? Note that pretending that the DEI issues don’t exist or impact our colleagues, students, and the communities we serve also sends a message about who you are and what you represent; and remember, as an MSU leader you are a representative of the organization.

    The organization also has a responsibility to back up that individual leader in their efforts to address these issues, which speaks to the values and courage of both the person and the organization’s practices and policies. Do both help to create an inclusive, equitable space for all people to thrive? These actions need to be thoughtful and intentional if we have any chance of having an engaged, inclusive workplace. The Forbes article, 5 Reasons Why Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Fail, states that a leader’s efforts must go beyond the organization’s “needs for compliance and start working to gain that respect by actually recognizing and listening to the people whose respect you want to earn and unique differences you desire to value.” Leaders not only have a responsibility for their individual behaviors but also to push for policy and process changes that align with the stated values of the organization. It doesn’t happen without the concerted, prioritized actions of individuals over time.
  4. Model Accountability: Doing what you say you’ll do, and what you say is important, will impact how much people listen and follow through. If you say that you expect others to speak up and address issues, but you tend to avoid conversations that are difficult, you likely won’t have credibility. If you announce that everyone is required to wear a mask in public spaces but fail to clearly address it when people don’t comply, the bar will be lowered and safety potentially at risk. For help in having these conversations in a productive way, check out these brief videos from Vital Smarts.
  5. Model Self-Care: We’ve all heard about the importance of taking breaks, getting exercise, connecting with others and refraining from working around the clock. The extent to which leaders demonstrate self-care skills impacts their team members. Even if you don’t expect your team to work beyond their stated hours, if you are sending emails in the middle of the night you have set an example that they may wonder if they need to follow. According to Gallup, “when a manager is thriving in well-being, their direct reports are 15% more likely to be thriving in well-being six months later… managers don’t need to become triathletes to demonstrate their commitment to physical well-being. Rather, managers should authentically display and share their personal well-being practices – providing verbal and non-verbal examples of well-being in action.” Encourage your team to practice good self-care, let them know why it’s important, and demonstrate the same.

Leaders cast a big shadow, impacting organizational practices, policies, and culture. In these volatile times, it is particularly important to go beyond the ideas of theoretical leadership notions and intentionally assure that your actions are having the intended impact. Find others who will provide you with honest feedback and make a plan to commit to your own learning journey across time. It requires considerable work, but it is incredibly gratifying to see the difference that effort can make.

Sources:

Bock, L. (2020, May 12). Leading through COVID: Manage Your Team with Empathy. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/leading-through-covid-manage-your-team-with-empathy

Grenny, J. (n.d.). How Do I Say That | Crucial Skills by VitalSmarts. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.vitalsmarts.com/crucialskills/category/how-do-i-say-that/?from-minicourse-page

Llopis, G. (2017, March 29). 5 Reasons Diversity And Inclusion Fails. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2017/01/16/5-reasons-diversity-and-inclusion-fails/

Nelson, J. (2020, June 12). The Manager’s Role in Employee Well-Being. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236249/manager-role-employee.aspx

Schrage, M. (2017, April 21). Like It or Not, You Are Always Leading by Example. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://hbr.org/2016/10/like-it-or-not-you-are-always-leading-by-example

Warrell, M. (2020, April 09). Leading Through Uncertainty: Six Ways To Navigate The Unchartered. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2020/03/08/leading-through-coronavirus-how-those-in-charge-can-navigate-the-uncertainty-with-calm–courage/

Inclusive Leadership: Starting with Self-Reflection

Written by Jennie Yelvington, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager for HR Organization and Professional Development.

Central to being a leader at MSU is understanding that furthering diversity, equity and inclusion is a priority that is imperative to the university fulfilling its mission. Simply understanding, however, is not enough. All of us must take an active role in continuing to work towards a more diverse and inclusive community. In a recent response to the killing of George Floyd, President Stanley noted:

“We are committed to building an inclusive environment here at MSU, one that recognizes and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. However, this commitment must be manifested in ways that extend well beyond words.”

President Stanley

Our commitment includes the work of both the individual and the collective; of behaviors, practices and policies that work together in an impactful way. Thankfully, we have a talented Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee (learn more about this committee and their vision here) that will be identifying recommendations going forward. In the meantime, start with the following questions for self-reflection related to these six themes to help reveal where you are on the path to being an inclusive leader:

  1. Belief: Do you wholeheartedly believe everyone is created equal? Regardless of differences in skin color, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, workplace hierarchy, support staff vs. academic staff, attire, etc.? Your honest answers may help with the next question.
  2. Awareness: Are you aware of the conscious and unconscious biases you had or have towards others? We all have them, so the question isn’t “if” you have bias, but where you do and what you do about it. Authors of the Harvard Business Review article The Key to Inclusive Leadership add that to be meaningful, bias awareness must be tied to two other traits:
    1. Humility – a willingness to acknowledge your vulnerability to bias and ask for feedback on blind spots and habits; and
    1. Empathy/perspective-taking – striving to understand others deeply and leave them feeling heard.
  3. Boldness: Are you honest with others about your shortcomings or misperceptions? Are you willing to have uncomfortable conversations or do reparative work if you make a mistake? This work does not occur without mistakes, but we must have the courage to do it anyway.
  4. Curiosity: Are you open to unlearning and relearning from others? Do you take the time to do your own research and learn about experiences others may be facing? Do you really know what it means to actively be a good ally? As leaders, we need to build diverse relationships, ask regularly for honest feedback and make adjustments as needed.
  5. Action: Are your behaviors and actions towards others aligned with your belief in equality? Believing in something theoretically is a start but has little meaning if your actions don’t consistently back it up. In developing inclusive cultures, leaders must address forces that dehumanize at personal, systemic and institutional levels. Don’t sit back waiting for others to take action. Make the changes that you can and speak up to exercise your influence.
  6. Commitment: Do you consistently hold yourself and others accountable to a culture of inclusion? The article Inclusive Leadership in Higher Education Today reminds us that “the inclusive leader works to support others’ identities, fosters understanding, respect, and dignity, and works to build a sense of mutual responsibility for and commitment to cultivating an inclusive, supportive, and impactful experience for all.” Do you speak up when you notice microaggressions? Do you actively seek the opinions of people in meetings who are being marginalized? Do you push for diverse hiring committees and candidate pools? Think about different ways that you can actively expand your commitment and take related steps.

As noted in the white paper Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership, “companies can’t add diversity to the mix of a team and expect that people will automatically collaborate, connect, resolve conflicts, or innovate as a cohesive unit. Aiming to improve your company’s demographic diversity (e.g., gender, ethnicity, ability) without also aiming to improve employee experiences of inclusion is not good for employers or employees. To generate exceptional outcomes, people need to work in an inclusive atmosphere where they can belong, contribute, and thrive.”

With perseverance and humility, we can continue to work on these issues and help MSU to be at the forefront of positive transformation.

Resources to Help:

elevateU Resources:

Podcast: Help Me Understand – Episode 8: A Conversation About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. JK talks with Jessica Garcia, former MSU faculty member and CEO of Hummingbird Solutions, LLC, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm.

Sources:

Arnold, N. W. (2020, May 22). Inclusive Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.higheredtoday.org/2020/05/20/inclusive-leadership/

Bourke, J., & Espedido, A. (2020, March 6). The Key to Inclusive Leadership. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/03/the-key-to-inclusive-leadership

Jenkins, R. (2018, June 12). 6 Questions That Reveal If You Are an Inclusive Leader. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/how-to-be-an-inclusive-leader-in-6-steps.html

Kendall, F. E. (2003). How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person with Privilege. Retrieved from http://www.scn.org/friends/ally.html?fbclid=IwAR2y_9Z615-XMXhfsaZ4P9lJ2EvgTXjZNamdmj8ru_eQdot0bzwAUnzC4qs

Stanley, S. L., & Sullivan, T. A. (n.d.). Message to the campus community on the shocking events in Minnesota. Retrieved from https://president.msu.edu/communications/messages-statements/2020_community_letters/2020_05_29_Letter_on_Minnesota_events.html?utm_campaign=standard-promo&utm_source=msulinkedin-post&utm_medium=social

Travis, D. J., Shaffer, E., & Thorpe-Moscon, J. (n.d.). Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership: Why Change Starts with You. Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership: Why Change Starts with You. Catalyst. Retrieved from https://www.catalyst.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Getting-Real-About-Inclusive-Leadership-Report-2020update.pdf

Rapid Change: Making Your Way Through

This is a guest post by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager, HR Organization and Professional Development.

Prior to the pandemic, we lived in a time of rapid change. Megatrends like globalization and technological advancements have resulted in a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA). Some find this reality to be exciting, some find it threatening, and now all are faced with the new challenges brought by COVID-19. We are called upon to navigate uncharted terrain and that isn’t easy. Leading through this time and beyond requires strong self-awareness and self-care, along with taking care of those in your charge. Here are some points to keep in mind:

Choose Where to Expend Your Energy

Worry can feel very active and spending time in that space can seem like you are working on something productive; in reality, you are just burning through energy that could be better spent. When you notice yourself worrying about what might happen or stewing about something that happened in the past, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do about it now?”

Consider your Sphere of Influence:

Graphic representing one's sphere of influence. Three circles are centered on top of each other. The smallest circle in the middle represents "control," the next biggest circle represents "possible influence but no control," and the largest circle represents "no control."
  • No Control. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to change or influence the situation, your work is to assess whether you can learn from it, then let it go and refocus on something else. This would apply to things like the weather and essentially anything that has happened in the past.
  • Possible Influence but No Control. If there is a step you can take that may influence an outcome, person, or situation, determine what action you can take to maximize that influence, follow through, and then let it go. Resist the temptation to convince yourself that worrying about it means it is within your control. Release.
  • Control. If the issue you are wrestling with is completely within your control, you are likely looking in the mirror. You have control over your decisions, attitude, and behavior. What self-care practice can you initiate? What can you learn? What can you do to support someone else?  What action can you take that you’ve been putting off?

Prioritize Work for Yourself and Your Team

The priorities you have now might be very different from what they were a month or two ago. Re-evaluate everything on your plate on a regular basis. Is it all still a priority? Are there other items that have bumped higher on the list? What changes had you planned that can now be postponed or slowed because of new priorities?

It is essential to look at time and resources to see if your goals are realistic within the timeframes set. Sometimes, particularly during a crisis, it can be difficult to do this as there are numerous essential projects that have to be done, but don’t just rely on that assumption. Think it through, engage in conversations, and problem solve ways to avoid burning out yourself and others. Consider these additional change strategies from Forbes.

Coping with Change Overload

As outlined by American Management Association, “Since all people respond differently to change, it’s also crucial to consider how to deal with change overload. This can manifest itself in many ways, including employees feeling excluded from the change process, expressing concern over unrealistic timelines, feeling overwhelmed by what they perceive as too many changes coming too quickly, poor engagement, concerns about insufficient resources, and more. Those leading change must proactively establish guidelines for dealing with change overload, and strategize new ways to gain buy-in, remove silos, communicate openly, and eliminate barriers.” Access the American Management Association’s free guide on The Manager’s Role During Change.

Learn from the Journey

As we move through this unique time, don’t lose sight of all that you’ve learned and contemplate what will be useful to bring forward. Have you or other team members learned new skills or developed a new way to collaborate? Did you create a new approach to an old problem? Did you seek input and address a new issue you hadn’t anticipated? Make sure that you document that learning and think about what will be useful as we move past this crisis. Necessity is the mother of invention, so don’t let all that important, creative work go to waste.

Approaching change in an intentional, thoughtful and strategic way can help you and others stay steady and healthy during the experience and beyond. All of us hit points of resistance at times. That is normal and something that can be learned from and worked through. As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” It will be exciting to see what we build together as MSU moves forward.

Sources:

Managing Change-How to Navigate COVID-19 and the Changes to Come. (2020, April 22). Retrieved from https://www.amanet.org/articles/managing-change-how-to-navigate-covid-19-and-the-changes-to-come/

Connected Through Crisis: Why an Interdependent Approach to Leadership is Vital

This is a guest post written by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager for HR Organization and Professional Development.

We are part of a large, complex system and a network of teams has stepped up to address the multitude of issues that have arisen at this time. It is clear that no one unit or individual can solve these problems on their own. It’s not enough to just embrace that concept theoretically. We are called to share knowledge and build connection so that we can be as responsive as possible at this critical time. 

Here are action steps for you to consider:

1. Focus on Problem-Solving vs. Blame

When information changes at a rapid pace, mistakes will be made by you and others. That is our current reality even though we do our best. Be kind to yourself and others by moving quickly from the initial emotional reaction to a focus on problem-solving and the next steps. In many ways, we are learning as we go, and having a mindset that encourages learning from mistakes with less fear of failure can be helpful. Check out this upcoming elevateU Live Event on May 13 called The Get Better Mindset to learn more.

2. Maximize Strengths

As you go about assigning work at this time, think about who would most easily be able to carry out the work without having to dramatically expand their skillset. Everyone is dealing with a lot right now and efficiency will increase if we line up work in this way. When people do need to take on new tasks that have a learning curve, think about whether there are other colleagues who can help them get up to speed quickly and without judgment.

3. Reach Out to Colleagues

Connecting with colleagues across our networks is important for several reasons. First, it is a morale booster just to make that connection and share experiences. Beyond that, it may fuel new ideas, create opportunities to work together on projects and allow for sharing information regarding needed resources and the changing landscape.

4. Make Sure People Have What They Need

Gallup research late last month showed that only 52% of workers strongly agree that they feel well prepared to do their work. When you connect with your team and your boss, make sure you are sharing critical updates, reviewing material and equipment needs, connecting people with educational support like elevateU, and clarifying expectations in this unusual time. People may not just tell you if they don’t know how to do something. Make it safe for them to have the discussion. Equally important, don’t forget to check in on how they are holding up emotionally during this challenging time. Feelings such as grief and anxiety are common and empathy and compassion from a leader goes a long way.

5. Provide Context

Whether you are talking to your team, your leader, or other colleagues, it is helpful to share context. Starting a new project? Let others know why and what you are hoping to achieve. Assigning a new task? Be sure to share what problem you are trying to solve or need you are trying to fill. Asking your boss for resources? Let them know the impact you anticipate and how it will align with priorities. Sharing this information is likely to generate new ideas, prevent wasted time, and help people feel motivated to be involved.

6. Make Decisions without Certainty

In this rapidly changing time, we can’t stand still. Decisions need to be made without knowing exactly how the long game will play out and getting input from subject matter experts on your team and elsewhere can really help. Focus on doing the next right thing and be prepared to pivot as needed.

7. Deliberate Calm and Bounded Optimism

In the article Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges the authors highlight two important leadership characteristics. “Deliberate calm” refers to the ability to stay steady in a fraught situation and think strategically about how to navigate. It requires humility and being fully present. “Bounded optimism” refers to confidence combined with realism. Excessive confidence despite obvious difficulty results in a lack of credibility and being dismissive of people’s experience. Instead leaders should acknowledge the challenges while expressing confidence that we can find our way through together, and then listen when others offer ideas. Side note: in order to be able to do either of these, you need self-awareness and good self-care strategies. Taking care of yourself helps you to stay steadier and take better care of others. Consider utilizing the many emotional wellness resources available from the MSU EAP and Health4U.

This time calls on us to shift from being fiercely independent and siloed, to embracing interdependence and collaboration. With a shared appreciation for each other’s capabilities and experience, and an eye to how we can best help each other forward, we can meet the challenges before us today and into the future. Perhaps psychologist Erik Erikson said it best: “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for all of us.”

The following books in elevateU may be helpful:

Sources:

D’Auria, G., & De Smet, A. (2020, March). Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/leadership-in-a-crisis-responding-to-the-coronavirus-outbreak-and-future-challenges

Harter, J. (2020, April 17). How Leaders Are Responding to COVID-19 Workplace Disruption. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/307622/leaders-responding-covid-workplace-disruption.aspx

Leading Through Uncertain, Rapidly Changing Times

This is a guest post written by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager, HR Organization and Professional Development

March brought unprecedented change to this large, often slow-moving organization, and it is easy to see why it might feel overwhelming at times. Each day brings new information and impactful changes that leaders must influence and enact without much warning. Additionally, each of us must manage adjustments in our personal lives. Making a proactive effort to take care of yourself will be critical to handling these times effectively with your staff. Staying calm, forward-thinking and encouraging requires you to not allow yourself to become depleted.

You know what this involves: get enough sleep, eat nourishing food,  exercise, and do other things that help to sustain you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have no capacity to take care of your team and the organization. I am confident that this upheaval in our daily routine will change us in ways we can’t yet imagine and perhaps for the better. Creativity and innovation are often born out of times when we can no longer do “business as usual.” In addition to doing the work of the day, don’t forget to bring humanness to your leadership with these tips for success:

  • Be patient with yourself and others as we navigate this new terrain and recognize gains made, however small.
  • Acknowledge and grieve losses, sharing empathy and compassion as we find our way through.
  • Strengthening our connections is more critical now than ever, so help each other to learn new technology and overcome barriers. Share knowledge and seek help from your peers across the organization.
  • Make an extra effort to connect with your team. Utilize Microsoft Teams to hold daily virtual meetings, share information and provide encouragement. Or just pick up the phone.
  • Learn something new as a team. Have team members “host” the ideas.
  • Stay connected with people who cannot work remotely. They are important to the overall success of your organization and when things get back to normal, you will need them. Think about how you can stay connected in new ways. Try mailing letters or cards.
  • If you are a higher-level leader, providing support for your Chairs and front-line supervisors is critical. Make sure you are connecting with them on a regular basis.
  • Create structured meetings for all and consider one-on-one meetings and small project/team meetings to enhance communication. It’s OK to just “talk.” It is vital, more than ever, to increase positive interactions.

The following paradoxes outlined in the article Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty by Dave Ulrich may be helpful to consider:

  • Avoid the extremes of either over-reacting or under-reacting or as a thoughtful sage once said, “run with patience.”
  • Care for both the individual and the organization.
  • Balance the need for decisive action (be bold) and the need for thoughtful value-based decisions (be calm).
  • Respond to the short-term challenges of the moment and anticipate and plan for the long-term implications.

Along with the obvious challenges, this is also a time of great opportunity if we can remain open. In the Forbes article, Leading In Times Of Uncertainty: How To Engage Optimism And Focus When Nothing Seems Predictable, H.V. MacArthur reminds us that we have a number of options that uniquely present themselves at this time, including:

  • The ability of your team to experience the flexibility that comes from using remote work options.
  • Opportunity for team members to catch up on work and upcoming deadlines.
  • Time for your business to do proactive planning and strategic thinking.
  • An opening for up-skilling team members through training and development.

Eventually, this crisis will pass, and we will move to another new normal. Focusing now on how we are taking care of ourselves, each other and the organization will influence how we come out on the other side. We have been encouraged by the compassion and determination expressed by our colleagues across the organization—continue that good work. While you’re at it, consider sending us your thoughts and suggestions on what is working well so we can share them more broadly at ProDev@hr.msu.edu.

Sources:

MacArthur, H. V. (2020, March 17). Leading In Times Of Uncertainty: How To Engage Optimism And Focus When Nothing Seems Predictable. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/hvmacarthur/2020/03/16/leading-in-times-of-uncertainty-how-to-engage-optimism-and-focus-when-nothing-seems-predictable/#5ebb3fed47e2

Ulrich, D. (2020, March 12). Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-confidence-times-uncertainty-dave-ulrich/?trackingId=2Xa4HAlp8xcOpEp3RFH/DQ==

Are You Ready to Lead?

This post was written by Jennie Yelvington, Sr. HR Professional for Organization and Professional Development.

Are you interested in moving into a formal leadership role, but not sure how to get there? The first step is to examine whether you have and are exhibiting the types of skills necessary to be successful in the role. That assessment can help to inform your development plan, prepare you for more responsibility, and highlight your capacity to others.

The following behaviors will help you demonstrate leadership ability no matter your current role:

  1. Identify your goals, discuss with your supervisor, and actively work toward them. Leaders need to be continually learning and developing themselves to maintain self-awareness and deal effectively with change and complexity.
  2. Take on stretch assignments. Look for opportunities to lead projects or initiatives, serve on committees, suggest improvements, and provide value added service.
  3. Learn about the university and how it functions. Leaders need to consider how issues impact not only their unit, but also their department, college, and the university. Familiarize yourself with issues impacting higher education, attend events that allow you to hear other leaders speak, and network broadly to better understand the landscape. While it is normal to think about how a situation impacts you personally, leaders place a priority on what best suits the mission, goals, and values of the organization.
  4. Strengthen your “people” skills. Effective leaders know how to engage and motivate their team, work collaboratively with their peers, and influence the leaders above them. Being empathic, listening for understanding, communicating effectively, and handling difficult conversations are baseline skills that every leader needs.
  5. Be a problem solver. Rather than complaining about issues you see (or ignoring them), develop and share ideas for addressing them. Ask good questions and get input from others who are involved and impacted as you attempt to identify possible solutions. Even if your ideas aren’t implemented, you build your capacity to solve problems and demonstrate that you are capable and proactive.
  6. Understand your biases and demonstrate inclusion. It is easy to always turn to our “go to” people who think like we do, but that isn’t generally the best approach. We all have biases, but once we understand them we can consciously work to include others who might offer valuable, different perspectives.
  7. Model professionalism. Dress in appropriate attire for the role you would like to secure, handle problems and disappointments with grace and maturity, move quickly from venting to sound action, keep up on skills necessary for your role, avoid engaging in gossip and redirect others who do, consistently follow through on commitments, be respectful of the others’ time and opinions, be actively supportive and helpful to your colleagues and leaders.

Talk with your supervisor to get their perspective on how you are doing in the above areas. HR Organization and Professional Development offers several instructor-led courses that can help you strengthen capacity in these areas. Find all current courses on the HR website and consider taking the following courses:

  • Honing Your Emotional Intelligence
  • Communicating and Influencing Up
  • Essentials of Project Management
  • Process Mapping and Analysis
  • Crucial Conversations
  • Crucial Accountability
  • Sustainable High Performance
  • Thriving Through Change
  • From Distracted to Productive
  • Everything DiSC: Behavior Styles at Work

In addition to instructor-led courses, current staff and faculty have access to elevateU, which offers free access to eBooks, videos, and online self-paced courses to help build your leadership skills. Learn more about elevateU on the HR website and try these leadership-focused learning opportunities through elevateU:

For more career advice, read this interview with Sharon Butler, Associate Vice President of Human Resources. Butler shares lessons she’s learned about becoming a great leader and, more specifically, addresses how women can get ahead in the workplace.