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Four Program Reflections

| May 17, 2022

by Brian McDonald

This week we’re going to do something different and start with the results of last week’s survey.


From Last Week
Last week, we asked: Which of these practices is most important to you?

  • 41% said building relationships
  • 27% said weekly planning
  • 19% said owning your calendar / defensive calendaring
  • 13% said delegating whenever possible

The many practices taught through MOR have often been likened to a buffet.  Each of us will choose different items from the buffet of leadership practices, based on where we are and what we need to make the greatest impact in our organizations.  As we found in this survey, a common focus is building relationships.  Relationships are the coin of the realm in higher education.  However, relationships alone are insufficient.  As we consider the 4 I’s of relationships, what are we doing to influence our desired future state?

Continuing with the theme of practices as new cohorts of MOR programs begin across the country, this week we share four MOR program participants reflections.  May these be an inspiration and reminder of how you can lead from where you are in your organization. 

[First, an inspiring story of culture change from Tyler Crooks, Health System Analyst Manager, University Health Services, University of California, Berkeley.  He is a current participant in the MOR Leaders Program.  Tyler may be reached at [email protected].]
I wanted to develop a cohesive team and break down work barriers, but there was no magic wand of influence or switch to flip. I knew from witnessing failed change initiatives that putting inspirational words in memos or presentations about desired cultural changes was not going to make a difference. Then I learned about behaviors that drive teaming success, from the book Teaming by Amy C. Edmondson. The author outlines the key behaviors of teaming; speaking up, collaboration, experimentation, and reflection. She emphasizes that these are not all commonly practiced behaviors and if you want to influence desired behavior, it needs to be cultivated within your team. This was the key term that finally made sense to me. The behaviors I wanted to change in our work culture had to be cultivated. I needed to plant and develop ideas of teaming behavior in my team through actions and leading by example. I first needed to demonstrate the desired behavior (collaboration and experimentation) and then encourage some early adopters. It wasn’t a quick change, but something that grew over time and resonated with the team as we collaborated and worked together.  I identified the teaming behaviors that were lacking and needed cultivation, while also encouraging continued behavior in areas where we were exhibiting success.  With my new team that’s now twice the original size, it has taken longer to develop the desired behaviors (collaboration and reflection), but we are functioning as a highly coordinated and collaborative team. I’ve started off small to get the ball rolling and be the catalyst for desired behavior changes in the future.

[Next, some meeting tips from Kelly Leahy, Student Success & Engagement Librarian, Beloit College.  She is a current participant in the MOR Liberal Arts Colleges Leaders Program.  Kelly may be reached at [email protected].]

I’ve joked before that my department is a little sloppy when it comes to meetings. Overtime, we have focused on always having an agenda – even a brief note is helpful for each person to identify their role. Additionally, knowing what is going to happen is helpful for easing anxiety that some feel when they receive a meeting invite.  When running a meeting, I’ve started to incorporate Liberating Structures as a way to invite everyone to the conversation. Also, I’m using both synchronous and asynchronous techniques to get feedback – having asynchronous has helped some of the more hesitant members of the team to participate.


[Next, a novel view on reflection from Dr. Irene Kopaliani, Research Computing Cloud Architect at Princeton University.  She is a current participant in the MOR Ivy Leaders Program.  Irene may be reached at [email protected].]

A mirror is commonly used for inspecting oneself. Humans have been fascinated with the physical reflection of the self since prehistoric times. Examples of the first obsidian mirrors were found in Anatolia, dating it around 6000 BC.  In scientific terms, “mirror” and “reflector” are interchangeable and can reflect objects that are at an angle from them, such as around a corner. Furthermore, total internal reflection is the amount of light that passes between two mediums. Total internal reflection defines why some diamonds sparkle more than others. Diamonds are cut into a number of facets that act similarly to a mirror, reflecting light from one part of the diamond to another and then bouncing it back out to create a beautiful sparkle.
And in not so scientific terms, we humans are diamonds! We forge the facets with which our life reflects the light that makes us shine. With a regular reflection on our thoughts and actions, we can bounce light from one aspect of our personality to another, creating a beautiful sparkle that is our life.

[And finally reminders of MOR lessons suitable for framing from Chas Grundy, Manager, Product Services, University of Notre Dame.  He is a MOR leadership program alum.  Chas may be reached at [email protected].]

As we consider the buffet of leadership practices we can draw upon, we hope these selections provide inspiration as you choose how to fill your own plate.


This Week’s Survey

What advice would you give to someone trying to adopt a new leadership practice?