Intention: I want to take a moment to reflect on the impact the Dale Carnegie Develop Your Leadership Potential: Stop Doing, Start Leading course has made on my professional career. I really enjoyed what I had learned from the first Dale Carnegie course and saw growth in my public speaking, networking, and confidence with the tools that I had gained. The Dale Carnegie Develop Your Leadership Potential course builds on top of the foundations created from the Dale Carnegie human relations skills course and looks at Human Relations in a systemic way. When I find out (actually less than a week before this course started!) that this leadership course was being offered and was 100% reimbursed by PayPal’s educational assistance program, I signed up as fast as I could.
The Dale Carnegie Leadership Course was held online via Cisco WebEx every Wednesday from 3:00-5:30pm for 8 weeks. Especially during the pandemic, I’ve found that it’s important to have your camera on so I also had a ring light behind the camera to improve my virtual presence. I also found that it was helpful to have a standing desk to project and give more energy when speaking.
I came in with the mentality that I eventually want to be a leader. Since I’m not in a management position, I want to prepare the best that I can for a leadership opportunity. I came in with this mindset but then I ultimately needed to change my mindset because I saw this slide with the phrase:
Stop doing, start leading
This gave me an “Aha” moment where I realized that I needed to switch from being an aspiring leader to actually seeing myself as a leader and act as a leader.
Continue to develop your strengths because that’s what keeps you set apart from the rest. With these strengths, you can also transfer the knowledge and make stronger connections with the competencies that need to be improved.
“People with integrity do what they say they are going to do. Others have excuses.” ―Laura Schlessinger
During this week’s session, we discussed creating a plan of how we’re going to make an impact as a leader. What stuck out to me in this session is,
How can we make the small talk more intentional?
To me, I generally don’t mind small talk because my perspective is that the small talk sets the foundation of the relationship between you and another person. As we dive deeper into this, there are three different types of questions that you can ask depending on how much trust you’ve established with that other person.
The first type is fact-based questions. This allows the other party to share how much they’d like to without feeling completely vulnerable.
The second type are the causative-based questions to dive deeper into what caused the person to make the choices that they did in reference to the facts that they shared.
The third type and the deepest level in terms of vulnerability are the value-based questions.
Especially during quarantine, the distancing makes it harder for us to connect with others and even talk face-to-face with others, depending on each individual’s situation.
Getting Comfortable With Asking These Questions
At the beginning of this week, I reached out to a new hire who recently joined our team to be another point of contact and also just see if they had any questions that I could help answer as they joined during this fully-remote time. This meetup was a great opportunity to be able to get more comfortable with asking these factual based questions. During this session, I also got to share about our fun culture that we have and just how our organization is truly a flat-hierarchy because the whole team and sub-teams are very approachable.
This week, we did more impromptu speakings about how we are forming our Leadership Impact plan. We shared our thought process as well as a time where we had to develop ourselves or another person. Due to internship and job hunts starting up over the Summer and Fall, I've been on the panel of a couple of Ask Me Anything events. These events have allowed me to speak to over 300+ students and I've also been able to connect with a handful of students over LinkedIn and Zoom calls. One of the most frequently asked questions that I've gotten is
What is the transition like from doing internship to working full time?
What stood out to me as part of the transition is just how much you become integrated into and immersed in the company's culture. Rather than working on one project, you're working on multiple projects and interacting with other teams within your organization. I found that when we switched to being fully remote, there were areas for our organization to grow in terms of fun ways for everyone to virtually come together. I also realized that for new hires, they don't get to see the culture of our organization. This led me to come up a with a plan that centers around, How can we engage our new hires in our organization's culture and make them feel included now that we have moved to a virtual space?
This week we focused on giving feedback and specifically cushioning any constructive feedback that could cause conflicts. What I took away from this session is that it’s important to practice with different scenarios and it’s helpful to have a coach who can give you encouragement and suggestions. We each took turns being the person doing the conflict resolution, the person receiving the feedback, and the coach. We were each given challenging scenarios that really pushed us to think creatively about our responses and brainstorm together how we can improve our feedback. By there only being four of us in the course, I felt like we were really able to dive into the content and have more time to collaborate. Over the past few weeks, we’ve created a space that has allowed us to be more vulnerable yet learn because we’re all so eager to immediately start applying what we’ve been learning.
I see what you’re saying about this situation. Could you please expand?
In this session, we focused on conflict resolution. I got to share about a time where during a code review, I and another team member has different views on how the code should be split into different layers due to the business logic. While both of our opinions were valid, we also each had use cases. Since I did feel strongly about my opinion, it wasn’t as easy for me to just accept my teammate’s suggestions. I decided to take a step back and brainstormed on how to resolve this because we could easily go back and forth. I made sure to communicate that I see my teammate’s points and when I presented my thoughts, I asked for theirs as well. In the end, I suggested a compromise that we were both cool with.
Moving forward, it’s important to find a common ground between you and the other party.
In this session, we focused on improving our self-awareness as leaders to avoid potential blind-spots. In August, I received a book for my birthday titled Insight : The Surprising Truth about How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think by Tasha Eurich. I felt that this book and the feed-forward tool that was shared in this session connect on the same theme: taking a proactive approach to improving your awareness, both internally and externally. In this session, we got to split into two groups and share a trait that we've noticed in ourselves that we're looking to improve upon. For me, I find that I tend to take critiques more personally and am working on changing that perspective to the other person wants me to succeed because this is also my intention when giving feedback and suggestions. In a feed-forward approach, my cohort-mate Julie, gave me some really great advice to
believe in myself and trust the process as well as the advice that is shared.
This session focused on self-regulation in the time of a crisis and actively listening. We did an exercise where we had to listen to a time where one of our cohort felt like they weren't being listened to, summarize what they said and any shared previously, and then share a time that we also felt like we weren't being heard. Normally with learning dance combinations, we have a lot of repetition so in case you don't hear/see it the first time, most likely, they'll repeat it again. In this case, we only heard it once which was difficult for me. This is definitely an area that I can improve upon as we have our daily standup meetings and it's important to hear each team member's update.
At the end of this session, I had the opportunity to give the closing speech. I decided to share a story that was quite relevant because of its connection to self-regulating in a multiple crises.
Let me take you back to this Sunday night. We’re getting our house re-painted so we moved all of the furniture to the middle of the room, our work desks to two bedrooms that weren’t getting re-painted, and portioned our lunches out for the next couple of days. On Day 1 of 3, I’m working in my bedroom, quickly make my sandwich, and keep on working. I'm also on Live Support for our team's credit micro-services which means that I would need to be available for any service triaging or adhoc requests that come up during the work day. I come out of my bedroom around 5:30 PM and everything that could possibly get paint on it, is covered in cellophane and tape. The stairs, closets where our clothes were, pantry, and even the toilet, was covered! On top of that, the painters tell us, “We’ll need you all to be out of the house since we’ll be spray-painting.” In prep for Day 2, we quickly had to move our work desks to the garage and brave going to In N Out for food and restrooms. In between Day 1 and 2, the house was covered in cellophane but nothing had been painted yet. My sister and I took this as an opportunity to create some dance films in the shower, master bathroom sink, garden doors, and even the space around the entertainment center that was wrapped in cellophane. We also brought out my photography lights that I’ve been using for filming to set the mood and also control the lighting. This moment made me realize that it’s important to take the time to process. We could have focused on the inconveniences but instead we turned this into art. With this, I encourage each of you to allow yourself the time to process and live in the present - thank you!
This was our last of the sessions and the feeling was bitter-sweet. It felt like these weeks went by so quickly and I enjoyed every single session. We learned a powerful tool where you can categorize what you’ve already done vs what’s currently in your head. It was wonderful to sort out what’s in-progress vs accomplished in my leadership plan and get the cohort’s suggestions and advice on how to proceed further with what’s in-progress. This exercise was a great for collaboration and brainstorming because each member had such unique solutions and advice.
TLDR; Wrap Up
I really enjoyed this experience and felt that there were a lot of great conversations that took place between the classmates and Cayly, our facilitator. Cayly did a wonderful job of facilitating these conversations and in sharing her personal examples. She also gave us great feedforward when we shared our stories. She played such a monumental role in helping us move out of our comfort zone and shine in the breakthrough zone while growing and refining our leadership skills! In addition, there were only 4 of us which made the discussions more diverse and fruitful - each person got to speak up and jump in whenever we wanted to add to the conversation. We fast-tracked our Leadership Plan by Week 4 and actually got to start putting it into motion. I felt that by being able to apply the leadership tools that we learned each week such as active listening and communication, giving feedforward, and self-awareness insights,
I made the switch during the 8 sessions and actually started seeing myself as a leader rather than training to be one.
Thank you for taking the time to read and hope that you benefit from these takeaways as well!