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Which Leadership Lesson are You Learning?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Scena Webb
June 22, 2019

Over the last few years I have written about leadership from a variety of perspectives. Coaching in the workplace focuses on how coaching can be an integral part of retention strategies. This article provides a few quick tips to begin thinking about coaching in the workplace; particularly, leadership coaching to increase employee engagement and develop emerging leaders. Setting clear expectations that connect the vision and mission of the organization is great. Inspecting the products that you expect as a leader is one way to ensure you are communicating clear. Having impactful performance conversations and celebrating successes along the way with members of your team are great ways to incorporate leadership coaching.

Diversity in the Workplace: The New Mastermind Group focuses on harnessing census data that demonstrates how the workforce is becoming increasingly diversified in all ways. The goal in this article is to encourage you to create impact cross-functional work teams creating masterminds or think tanks.  Mastermind groups are not new concepts and have been around since the 1930s when Napoleon Hill introduced the term in his book, Think And Grow Rich. In his book, Napoleon Hill describes a mastermind as, “A coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirt of harmony.” What a concept to grab and incorporate in your organization by using a diverse group creating synergy in the spirit of a definite purpose.

Coaching is a very practice-based tool.  Creating mastermind groups is an action-learning event facilitating the group working on real-world priorities that can be determined by what leaders connect to the mission of the organization. There is another side of the leadership coin—the theoretical world before the emerging leader enters the workforce. Practitioners and scholars of public administration can work together to close the gap between what emerging leaders teach and the practicality of those teachings to real-world requirements of today’s workforce. Some scholars believe that theory and research is the foundation of leadership training and understanding. Some scholars believe that practicing the skills necessary to develop into a good leader are equally foundational. I believe both are a part of a solution that has many avenues to successful leadership.


“When going through life’s lessons, doing the right thing is really a matter of when you want to learn your lesson.”
– Kim Magasart, January 19, 2005

What is the “right thing” when it comes to learning the lessons of leadership? The Leadership Quotient (LQ) makes intuitive sense when thinking about how a person demonstrates leadership. This quotient uses assessments as a tool to learn more about individual strengths that are essential to their development. Kim Magasart has a point here in that assessments can help learn a lesson. A bit of background; Kim and I were both serving in the United States Navy back when she said to me, “When going through life’s lessons, doing the right thing is really a matter of when you want to learn your lesson.” She and I were having a leadership coaching session and she was growing into increased levels of leadership. We were both working in the navy recruiting business back in 2005 and the world of recruiting is a very fast-paced, dynamic organization that does not stay the constant. Understanding her LQ helped me coach her development through modeling behavior for others to follow. Kim is a very insightful leader who remains a close confidant in my continued leadership journey.

Leading a Multigenerational Workforce brings challenges incorporating thinkers born in a digital age that may think in different ways from their leaders. As a point of practical matter, I think of what I observe when some people bring cellular phones to a meeting and do not look at the person leading the discussion. The act of paying more attention to what’s taking place on the phone sends varying messages to the people in the meeting. Unconscious bias, as a perception that influences decision-making deeply rooted in the mind of a person, operates automatically and can send inconsistent messages to the leaders in the meeting. Being aware of the differences between generational norms and expectations is an absolute for all leaders in the 21st century. One unfortunate outcome of unconscious bias is disparate treatment. The lesson here is that effective leaders must raise their consciousness about unconscious bias while leading organizations today.

 Which leadership lesson are you learning? Regarding multigenerational teams, leaders shouldn’t focus on the difference but take advantage of the differences. Diversity of thought coming from various perspectives, cultures and life experiences offers a competitive advantage for any organization. Part II: Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce: The Employees’ Perspective offers insights on how to harness the power of generational diversity. Many scholars agree that hearing and receiving information from a diverse group have the potential to plan and target milestones for a larger potential client pool. Kim’s words ring as true today as when she first said them to me back in 2005. In part, “…doing the right thing is really a matter of when you want to learn your lesson.”  I want to learn from a diaspora of thought so that I can grow in the vast knowledge and expectation of what leadership means.

Author: Scena Webb is a military veteran having completed 21 years of naval service. She is the author of two books and owns a small business, Celebrate Incorporated, that offers coaching services for veterans and doctoral students. She is an instructor for Indiana Wesleyan University where she teaches graduate students in the Masters of Public Administration program.

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