Monday, February 7, 2011

Professional Leadership, my friendly wake-up call from the APTA

I recently had the opportunity to attend a leadership development program run by the APTA staff at my Chapter office. At first I thought . . . ugh, I have better things to do on a Saturday morning . . . but it turned out to be one of those events that gave me a wake up call to improve something that wasn't even on my radar. It was a great reminder of the work it takes to be a leader, as well as the work it takes to be led. At the time of my last APTA leadership event, I defined myself as a "green/gold" leader and communicator, and I still thought of myself this way. Does anyone else define themselves as a color (or two)?

For people not familiar with the color code, a very rough description is as follows: (1) Orange: Action-oriented, fast-acting, and flexible; (2) Blue: Expressive, group-oriented, encouraging; (3) Green: Visionary, analytical, high expectations; (4) Gold: Thorough, organized, structured

As time has progressed, so has the leadership message from the APTA. The speaker had 2 messages that hit home that I thought would be good to share/discuss with this group of other young leaders.

First, the speaker presented the results of retrospective qualitative analysis of strong leaders. She described a book (forgive me because I can’t remember the name) that summarized the qualities shared by prominent, successful leaders. They boiled down to: (1) Challenge the Process; (2) Inspire a Shared Vision; (3) Enable Others to Act; (4) Model the Way; (5) Encourage the Heart.

We rated ourselves on these 5 characteristics, but didn’t just pick 1 or 2. This new rating method helped me to see my leadership communication style along a multidimensional spectrum, instead of an absolute. Maybe “encouraging the heart” is still not my strongest area (I think this would fall on the blue spectrum), but it is not absent from my leadership repertoire. Thinking about leadership in this more dynamic way helped me to think about how to progress my leadership skills and to think about what avenues of involvement fit my strengths.

The second new message was about how to utilize volunteers. This topic is important in recruitment of new active members, as well as making sure that current volunteers (including myself) don’t become burned out. The speaker pointed out that each of our volunteers will have different skills, leadership abilities, and interests. Sometimes we assign volunteer tasks to others (or ourselves) based on the one characteristic we know. For example, one could assume that a private practice manager/owner may be a great treasurer. However, maybe that volunteer would be happier with a position that allowed them to take a break from business-oriented tasks. Avoiding our own burn-out, and the burn out of our volunteers will lead to a much more productive professional community.

These 2 new messages gave me a better perspective on my own active involvement and how to grow. Does anyone else have any tidbits of wisdom from your own leadership experiences, a book you read, or different leadership development event?


1 comment:

  1. I mentioned it in today's blog too. But try checking out "The Innovator's Prescription". It's a book about changing health care (before health care reform came out). It's pretty fantastic. Clayton Chirstensen is brilliant and his "disruptive philosophy" has many applications in leadership and business. A shorter read that reflects the impact of HCR is "Fresh Medicine" by Phillip Bresden, former Governor of Tennessee.

    For our generation, fighting back against burn out takes a little disruption! Thinking outside the box about engagement, whether by escaping Myers-Briggs or applying business lessons to PT, is always a good idea!

    I know both books are a little removed from your original question's focus on leadership philosophies. I've been in a stage lately where I try to imagine the end goal and then assess what it will take to get there. I hope that's not too far out there to be helpful Miriam! Great post!