Aspiring Leaders Need These Three Skills to Rise Above
How do you lead professionals who have the same level of authority as you do?
That’s a question Blair Bond had when she signed up for the Management Practices Certificate at the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies. As the quality improvement specialist for a Minnesota health plan, Bond guides her organization through the ongoing process of accreditation into the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the “gold standard” of health plan assessment across the country, according to Bond.
“It’s tough to influence when you don’t have authority,” says Bond, whose job requires her to elicit the necessary information to compile her reports from multiple departments and interact with colleagues whose daily tasks are sometimes at odds with her own. “Everyone has their own responsibilities and deadlines and they don’t always line up with mine.”
Along with a promotion, Bond was offered the opportunity to take the Management Practices Certificate from the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Through the experience, Bond discovered three essential skills for professionals at all levels of leadership.
- Listen to the Needs of Your Peers
Bond says, before earning the certificate, she would often get resistance to her requests for information, in part because her colleagues had their own agendas. She learned a technique that helps her understand where someone else is coming from, why they might resist buying into the process, and how to overcome that. “We learned to identify personality types and the ways people give push-back. And we were given tools that help me influence them to cooperate with the process. Before taking the certificate, I would have had to escalate it to a higher-up.”
- Get the Right People at the Table
Bond doesn’t manage a team but she says she has benefited from a lesson on team foundations, which she uses regularly to gather data from multiple units that don’t necessarily interact. “I meet monthly with the people responsible for providing me the information I need to keep up with accreditation requirements. Keeping them at the front of the work is not always done unless we meet regularly to keep it there.”
- Identify Your Leadership Style
An essential step in growing as a leader is to identify your leadership style. In the Management Practices Certificate, Bond learned that she is a social leader, based on the Hogan leadership style assessment. Hogan describes social leaders as being skilled at communicating, networking, and building relationships to engage and motivate staff.