Managing to lead at UBC

May of 2023 was a pretty big month for me. We were moving (again, more on that later) and still had time to take a much needed vacation, to see old friends, the honor to attend a besties wedding and visiting family among the highlights keeping me busy. Professionally speaking, it also marked the completion of my most recent professional development endeavor ‘Managing at UBC‘, part of the leadership development program. Joining UBC Okanagan in February of 2022 marked several new challenges for me, not the least of which was providing leadership to the Learning Technology Support Team at The Centre for Teaching and Learning. Having had several inspirational managers in my career, I had plenty of sources to drawn on in terms of the ways I could be successful as a manager myself, but of course there are always unexpected challenges that go along with any new responsibility. In my case 2 of the biggest were a return to campus for all classes after 3 years of teaching and learning through a pandemic, and a return to the office, also after 3 years of working through a pandemic. And oh yeah, that and the fact that this was my first official job where I had direct reports.

I had so many questions. What was my team like, and would they ‘like’ me? Would there be time to provide them the support they needed and still accomplish the many other duties that were assigned to my role? Would we be as positive and effective a group as I had recently experienced with the hardest working team in Ed-Tech in this province?

This program came at the exact right time for me.

Managing at UBC is a leadership development program designed to equip newer managers with the foundational skills, knowledge and tools to succeed and grow in leadership roles at UBC.

UBC Human resources

I gained so much from this experience, and at times our regular workshops and coaching sessions were literally keeping me afloat amidst the storm of leadership challenges I was facing. It was an important reminder of the value giving yourself the time for your own professional development and personal reflection. I wanted to capture a particular aspect that really stood out for me.

I have strengths!

I mean, I have enough self confidence to believe that, but in terms of being a new manager, what did I really come to the table with? Wasn’t I starting out from scratch having to build this ability as I went along? The ‘strengths based’ assessment module was amongst the first of our training and real eye opener. Specifically acknowledging the fact that there are no one set of skills that make a good leader, in fact, everyone has the ability to lead but just may do it in different ways. In our assessment my strengths were

  • Adaptability – You live in the moment.
  • Developer – You see the potential in others.
  • Empathy – You can sense the emotions of those around you.
  • Strategic – Can sort through the clutter
  • Positivity – Generous with praise

All of which I genuinely related to. In this session were were asked to reflect on our strengths and activate them. First to redefine what are your strengths as things that give you strength. Next, to continue to seek out positive reinforcement as opposed to looking for things to fix. Finally, your strengths can be cultivated, and doing so will help you to let go of your perceived weaknesses, self doubt and imposter syndrome.

This also came with the realization that my strengths, or any other leaders for that matter may not be perceived as such with every member of the team. My ability to be adaptable for instance, known as ‘go with the flow’ may not land well will those that value consistency and routine for instance. Still, this was an invaluable insight to begin to build my own model for what kind of leader I will be and begin to explicitly define and lead with my values. Recognizing that a healthy, positive workplace and space is amongst my priorities allowed my ‘going with the flow’ to be directed and that everyone can identify with as a desirable outcome. I’m still figuring alot of this out, and looking forward to building on my experience to continue making a positive difference for the humans in the room.

HUMAN GENERATED COMMUNICATION.. A post-it with a little doodle of some icons representing sound, sight, touch and heart.

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