Skip to main content

The Leadership Journey Update

| March 7, 2018

by Sean McDonald

In a recent survey 125 alumni from across MOR’s leadership development programs were asked to identify areas of their ongoing development that they had a good handle on and also areas they need to focus on improving.  Alumni were first asked how invested are they currently in their ongoing development:

  • 78% were very invested
  • 21% somewhat invested
  • 1% not invested


The alumni were from a distributed mix of 2005-2017 graduates, from numerous universities and organizations. The top three competencies they felt they had a good handle on were:

  1. Empathy (82%)
  2. Delivering Results (77%)
  3. Being an Inclusive Leader (73%)

      All strong foundational elements for a leader.


As MOR suggests, learning about and practicing leadership is a lifelong pursuit.  The top competencies the graduates prioritized as needs to focus on improving were:

  1. Expanding my network (60%)
  2. Exercising influence (46%)

​#3-5 (41-42%):

  • Focusing on the important
  • Coaching your staff 
  • Staying healthy

      All critical to a leaders continued success.

In the survey’s second section those responding shared a number of things they are doing to apply what they learned while staying engaged in their continued development. In the 5 areas of need mentioned above, those who are having success in these area report out on actions and practices that were working for them:

Expanding My Network:

  • Still using the 4 I’s initiate-inquire-invest-influence
  • 2 coffees, 2 lunches a month
  • Take those 5-10 minutes before or after a meeting a talk with someone you haven’t built a relationship with or someone you want to invest in further. Of course you would have to put your phone down to do this.

Exercising Influence:

  • Ask yourself these 4 questions:
    • What result am I looking for?
    • What is the current context?
    • What is my relationship with this person(s)?
    • What approach makes the most sense?
  • Read over the 9 influence strategies and select those you need to strengthen

Focusing on the Important:

  • Daily and weekly planning have been transformational
  • Still spend an hour on Monday setting priorities & planning the week
  • Spending 15 minutes at the outset of each day has been a huge win
  • Defensive calendaring was life changing for me
  • Starting strategic initiatives on a planned cycle
  • Using the T

Coaching My Staff:

  • We have a routine coaching meeting set up
  • Seeing my staff develop and take on more has allowed me to be strategic
  • Still meeting with my peer coach

Staying Healthy:

  • Making worklife balance a priority
  • Establishing practices like regular exercise, meditation, eating & drinking what is good for my body
  • Journaling, writing out the 3 gratitudes each day


Leadership, like any craft, needs to be practiced over the course of our lifetime.  A number of folks have found setting aside time to get on the balcony or meeting with colleagues who have been through the MOR leaders program or by sending their staff through a similar program has kept the engagement going.  You can also use the Tuesday Readings from Jim Bruce as a prompt to spend some time each week working on being a more effective leader as others are counting on you.

Keep in mind a reflection from one of your peers in this alumni community:

“As I write my reflection, I realize that a lot of good actually came out of a difficult month. The month reinforced to me the MOR concept of practice, as in practice makes perfect. Or, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. I have to approach leadership as I have approached music. I’ve studied music my entire life, setting aside time to practice every day for decades, studying theory, performing as soloist, performing with bands and pit orchestras, and ultimately composing and hearing my music performed by others. With that daily practice, over time, it became second nature. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. And, with practice, practice, practice, our leadership skills will become second nature as well.

See you all at Carnegie Hall!”  

– Rimas Biliunas
Director of Information Technology, Case School of Engineering
Case Western Reserve University