This Leader Creates a "Spirit of Winning" on Her Team. Do You?

Change. It's the one constant in business these days. And it's also a kind of crucible for testing the mettle of leaders. Can they manage change themselves? Can they help their team members get results while dealing with disruption and uncertainty?

Inspiring leaders can. Leaders like Dionne Jackson, the Assistant VP for Leadership Gifts at Lehigh University.

Leading with Emotional Intelligence

With significant organizational changes looming, Dionne looked for ways to better support her team. She attended Shawn Kent Hayashi's keynote presentation on Emotional Intelligence at a meeting of fundraising professionals. By the end of the session, Dionne told herself, "This is exactly what we need for our advancement group at Lehigh." She recalled thinking:

"Enhanced emotional intelligence will empower my management team to help the rest of the organization manage constant change. Also, the better I am at helping my group stay focused on the job, the better position we'll be in to help Lehigh succeed at its goals."

With that in mind, Dionne arranged for her team leaders to experience the presentation. The impact of having a common language around emotional intelligence soon became clear.

"Shawn spoke about the concept of emotional wake and how you need 5 positive interactions to counteract one negative interaction. Recently, one manager shared how that one insight helped her heal a fractured relationship. 'I'm up to four and a half,' she said. Others have told me they feel more empowered and better equipped to be a more effective manager."

Now Dionne is a big believer in emotional intelligence training. "I'm requiring all my managers take this workshop by the end of the current fiscal year. I've written it into all their performance evaluations."

A History of Investing in Her Team

Truth be told, Dionne was already well acquainted with the work of The Professional Development Group before she attended Shawn's keynote on emotional intelligence. Shawn had conducted an offsite workshop on networking for Dionne's team as well as a retreat centered on Conversations for Change.

"At the team retreat, everybody took an assessment and that part really opened our eyes," said Dionne.

"At the micro level, the assessments helped us appreciate the communication styles of our donors and team members. At the macro level, they helped us understand the strengths of the team. I now think about the types of communicators we're missing on the team and, whenever possible, try to recruit them."

Besides using assessment information as a guide for hiring, Dionne also encourages her team to use it for improving daily communication. "Each manager has a binder with everybody's profiles printed out--a sort of manual of the whole team. Whenever someone has a difficult conversation, she can review the manual for communication tips. She can then get her point across in a way that will resonate with the other person."

Results That Matter

Has Dionne's focus on the professional development of her team made a difference?  

Dionne's team thinks so.  In a recent evaluation, one team member wrote, "I've learned so much about management from Dionne." Another said, "Dionne is the only person who has taken the time to really mentor me and invest in my success." 

Someone else summed up Dionne's accomplishments this way: "Dionne's top strength is her incredible ability to inspire teams to work together towards a common goal. When she joined Lehigh, the Leadership Gifts team had no true culture or identity.

"Dionne collectively created the spirit of winning together. This merit is what has driven her team past historic fundraising levels and created an environment where team members strive to win together."

This kind of feedback is not surprising for a leader whose emotional wake leaves a trail of positive energy, optimism, and trust. 

Need a Vision Statement for Leading Through Change?

Consider Dionne Jackson's: 

"I can't change what's happening elsewhere, but here I can be clear and fair in terms of holding people accountable. I also recognize that people want to feel respected and appreciated, and they want to celebrate their wins with each other along the way. And I've created an environment that makes them feel safe, makes them feel like they can be a success in this organization, and that I have their best interests at heart."

Congratulations, Dionne! You are an example of what authentic, caring, inspiring leaders can achieve!

Do you want to create a more dynamic work culture? Contact The Professional Development Group to learn more about our custom-designed workshops and team retreats.