"I am very proud to be an IPSLEI grad!"
I returned to Prince William County government as the Web Systems Support Services manager in the Office of Information Technology in 2009 after a brief move to West Virginia. Immediately, I was reminded of how much I love working with the County government and soon loved working for the citizens. I wanted more than ever to provide the best possible services to the County working through a team of six web developers.
However, I did not project a vision. Looking back, I am sure I did not know my vision. From the moment my participation in IPSLEI began, my vision starting taking shape. I learned to examine my own personality and style of leadership, not because of selfishness but to learn about my own motivations and baseline ideas (because I am blue!), as well as why others react to situations and my actions. Then, I began collecting a set of tools that could be harnessed to inspire, communicate, and manage more effectively. While I initially considered myself a flexible manager, I soon learned that I was “stuck” in one management style (S3) while my team needed much more from D2 to D4).
Upon entering IPSLEI I was very conflict-adverse; upon graduation I was becoming more confident about conflict resolution, thanks to the Thomas-Kilman approach. My team of developers reaped the most immediate rewards as I began to deploy those tools: coach a team member who was rather “burned out” and give more freedom to another who was “ready to fly”; moving from a compromising to a more collaborative method of resolving problems, even becoming more assertive to a team that needed a leader, not a friend.
Meanwhile, my vision moved sharply into focus. By the end of the four courses, the vision that had eluded me was now on paper via the Personal Philosophy of Leadership. It was a way to remind myself that I could either choose to forfeit my leadership at any time or else lead others to that vision. Seven months later I found myself interviewing for a position in the (renamed) Department of Information Technology, competing with applicants from around the country and the areas surrounding Prince William County. No doubt, all of us had technical experience with business applications and managing teams of developers. A few of us probably were certified project managers. I was the one with the passion and vision to lead this division, and it showed. I was fortunate to take counsel from Sarah Ray, a true IPSLEI guru, prior to the first interview; in the end, it was my responsibility to convince the interview panel of the vision that would help lead the Department of Information Technology to a new era of integrity and excellence! Today, almost a year since my hire date in the new position, I am so excited that one of my division’s managers is participating in IPSLEI! He and I have leadership discussions when he is available. I both encourage him in his efforts and continue to learn from seeing the courses through his eyes. Another manager plans to apply for the next cohort!
Yes, we continue to experience difficulties with technology and people. I work for the CIO who likes to ask me, “How comfortable are you with uncomfortable situations?” Each time is an opportunity to use another tool from the IPSLEI collection. Each time is an opportunity to share the vision.
I believe strongly in the IPSLEI vision and mission. It is invaluable in waking up or reinforcing those of us who need(ed) to step out and be a leader.