Wednesday, February 17, 2010

reflecting on leadership skills... is making my head spin!

So the prompt of the week is as follows: "What do you think are the key skills leaders in public health need in order to be successful, and why? What skills are you most interested in developing over the course of the fellows program?"

I have to admit, maybe it's the fact that I have been staring at spreadsheets and data all day, but this question immediately made my brow furrow. What specific skills, out of all the leadership 'competencies' to choose from, do I think are the MOST relevant to my future career? Aren't they all important? I think this 'fog of confusion' may also stem from my confusion about what types of jobs I want to have, in what types of institutions... if I can't figure that out, how can I figure out what skills I will need?

Okay, enough of my bourgeoisie suffering. Leadership skills are inherently transferrable, so for me the question becomes: What leadership skills am I good at? Where do I need some improvement, and where am I lousy? Is it better to be pretty good at all the 'leadership competencies', or excellent at a few? What is my leadership 'style'?

For reference, here are the leadership competencies given to us, at the start of the program:
  • communication
  • initiative
  • interpersonal skills
  • meeting facilitation
  • organizational awareness
  • professional integrity
  • project management
  • relationship-building
  • self-confidence
  • self-development & awareness
  • strategic thinking & problem-solving
  • team work

Luckily, I have leadership experiences to draw from when pondering these questions - both examples of when I rose to the occasion, and times when I flopped spectacularly. The times when I excelled were invigorating, especially when I felt like I was part of a well-functioning team, with shared values and similar work styles. The best teams I have been a part of were empowering, and all of us felt like leaders even if we had one "team leader".

But the flops were perhaps much more instructive for me -- I think what I have really learned from the more tense work experiences I have had is that I do not handle conflict very well! I definitely have a high standard for values and professional integrity, so when these are somehow lacking, I have trouble functioning. In that respect, I think that problem-solving and interpersonal skills will be really important for me to develop, especially as I am moving into a new and unfamiliar field. Relationship-building is another... I definitely prefer getting to know people one-on-one and in small groups, so "networking" events just tire me out.

On that note, back to data!


Lauren Baehner said...

Lisa I couldn't agree more that deciding which leadership skills are the MOST important was tough this time. However, I really liked what you said about learning from the failed experiences. That lead me to think more about my own failed leadership experiences and what I can learn from those... maybe I'll have more to write about on my own blog now!

Sarah-py...therapy through Sarah said...

In your post, you mention, "my confusion about what types of jobs I want to have, in what types of institutions." I think I am going through something similar and so I was wondering which way(s) you are leaning and why?

jessica said...

'Enough of my bourgeoisie suffering.' Ha! That was classic, e. twin, and a line I will have to repeat to myself from time to time :-).

This is interesting. In addition to institutions/type of job you will hold, I'd imagine that your answer to this question evolves with time and where you find yourself within the organization. I also, from a purely personal standpoint, would imagine that you may be able to work in teams where your strengths complement one another, and that you can tailor your leadership style to your strengths, of which there are many! :-).

And I agree with Lauren, thinking about failed leadership experiences is such a great idea.