Leadership Challenge #7

Module 11 LdC reflection on provocative question #6

Provocative Question #6 (LdC)

As your identity changes, what can you do to foster continued connections and even grow your engagement in COPs that can influence your ability to innovate?


Reflect on Module 11 LdC Step 3 – determine your leadership challenge

What behavior did you experiment with/try out for your leadership challenge last week?
I reflected on my changing memberships in communities and those that my interim replacement (in my previous department head position) needed to start creating.

What did you end up doing for your leadership challenge last week?
Originally I was going to create a political map for myself that showed graphically the different communities that relate to my new position – of some of which I’m a member and some of which have boundary members who relate to me – but due to a hectic week at work and then a week of vacation, I was not able to do that. Instead, I started working with my faculty member who will be taking my former position over as an interim position, to disentangle myself from that role and move her into it.

Reflect on Module 11 LdC Step 4 – assess and reflect on your leadership challenge

How did your change in behavior affect others in your Community of Practice? Tell the story of what happened.
The primary people affected by my leadership challenge this week were the directors of the four departments that I now supervise, and the fourteen members of my former department. I started the process of moving into my new position and shifting my department head work to a junior colleague. This is requiring all of these people – two different communities within the constellation that is LET – to shift their relationships with and expectations of both of us. I am doing this specifically with the idea of CoP identities in mind.

Reflect on your experience with the Leadership Challenge for this module.
We have had a shaky history of asking people to do interim work, which often really means that they take on a second position in addition to their regular work (this is what happened to me when I accepted the Acting Associate Dean position – I was both department head and associate dean at the same time). When I accepted the permanent associate dean position last month, I wanted to be able to inhabit the role fully, without having to wait for the year that it will take to hire a new department head. This meant identifying an interim to take on the role. It was tricky to choose a person, as I wanted someone with leadership skills, interest in management, and tenure/associate prof status. There were two people with this combination, one of whom is already a department head and the other has leadership but no supervisory experience. After talking with lots of people, the Dean and I decided to ask the latter person (Carolyn) to be the interim.

What I’ve done in the last few weeks has been to reflect on the changes that this promotion means for my own identity as well as for Carolyn’s. Based on some of the thinking that I’ve done about identities in communities, Carolyn and I had several conversations in the week before my vacation about her identity in the community in particular – how taking on this role means she will have to shift her own practice, including her communication with her current peers, to be one of the supervisor and not peer. This is complicated by her need to also be able to move back to the peer role, should she not be selected in the national search for the permanent department head position (which is possible). So on the one hand I did some intensive work with Carolyn, to bring her deeper into the philosophy of management that I and the other department heads have used and that she’s been blissfully ignorant of.

On the other hand, I’m finding that I am acting as a broker of Carolyn herself with some of the other communities. She will start attending the department head meetings in May (her appointment starts May 1st), and so before then I have started having conversations with the other directors about her qualifications and my expectations for their working relationships. This is important because two of the directors are used to thinking of Carolyn as a junior faculty member, and not always with positive commentary attached. So I had conversations with them last week to prepare them for this change.

The hardest part of this process, which surprised me, was the communication to the department and then to the rest of LET. I had meetings with the subject clusters (there are 4, with 2-4 people each) and the few folks that I’ll still supervise. The faculty were all in strong support of Carolyn and this move, and had very few questions for me. I found out later that they have lots of more questions that they are speculating on amongst themselves (including whether people will be moving offices) or asking Carolyn directly. This surprised me – and makes me think that perhaps the department is further along the road of separating themselves from me than I thought they were. It seems to be a truism in academia that there is a divide between “The Faculty” and “The Administration” – having mostly been a member of the former, I always blamed the latter for that, but now I’m starting to think there’s blame on both sides.

This was just the beginning of this transition process, and unfortunately if she doesn’t win the permanent position I’ll have to go through it all again next year. I actually think we would do well to have an external person come in, but also want to support Carolyn as much as I can. So yes, I hope to maintain this behavior over time – and also hope that it will help me to continue developing my leadership group as a CoP.

Module 13 LdC Steps 1, 2 and 3 on provocative question #7

Provocative Question (LdC)

What does the literature suggest we should do to make our conversations about research meaningful to use as change agents/action researchers?   Include Wenger and one other author.

Step 1. Prepare for an on-line Conversation

Quote/ideas from the book/reading Page number
 [Participation and reification] offer two kinds of lever available for attempts to shape the future – to maintain the status quo or conversely to redirect the practice.
1) You can seek, cultivate, or avoid specific relationships with specific people.
2) You can produce or promote specific artifacts to focus future negotiation of meaning in specific ways.
 Wenger p. 91
 The role of managers is often construed in terms of directing people, but it is worth noting that a good part of their activities have more to do with brokering across boundaries between practices… Although we all do some brokering, my experience is that certain individuals seem to thrive on being brokers; they love to create connections and engage in “import-export,” and so would rather stay at the boundaries of many practices than move to the core of any one practice.  Wenger p. 109
 In addition to being a source of boundary for outsiders and insiders, practice can also become a form of connection. Practice has the advantage of offering something to do together, some productive enterprise around which to negotiate diverging meanings and perspectives. People can engage in practice rather than simply talk about it. Over time, the connection itself gains a history:
1) sustained mutual engagement builds relationships
2) maintaining connections becomes part of the enterprise
3) the repertoire begins to include boundary elements that articulate the forms of membership involved.
 Wenger p. 113
 Experience may drive competence. Imagine that one or more members have had some experience that currently falls outside the regime of competence of a community to which they belong – for instance, because there are no words for it or because it puts the enterprise in question. As a way of asserting their membership, they may very well attempt to change the community’s regime so that it includes their experience. Toward this end, they have to negotiate its meaning with their community of practice. They invite others ot participate in their experience; they attempt to reify it for them. They may need to engage with people in new ways and transform relations among people in order to be taken seriously; they may need to redefine the enterprise in order to make the effort worthwhile; they may need to add new elements to the repertoire of their practice. If they have enough legitimacy as members to be successful, they will ahve changed the regime of competence – and created new knowledge in the process.  Wenger p. 137-138
 Alignment requires the ability to coordinate perspectives and actions in order to direct energies to a common purpose. The challenge of alignment is to connect local efforts to broader styles and discourses in ways that allow learners to invest their energy in them. Whether it is about a scientific method, an artistic or a social movement, a moral commitment, or the charter of an organization, alignment requires the ability to communicate purpose, needs, methods, and criteria. (then see processes, including negotiating perspectives, convincing)  Wenger p. 185
 Coregulation refers to a transitional process in a learner’s acquisition of self-regulated learning, within which learners and others share a common problem-solving plane, and SRL is gradually appropriated by the individual learner through interactions. Typically coregulation involves a student and an other (usually a more capable other, such as a more advanced student, peer tutor, and so on) sharing in the regulation of the student’s learning.  Hadwin & Oshige p. 247
 Coregulation refers to a transitional process in a learner’s acquisition of self-regulated learning, within which learners and others share a common problem-solving plane, and SRL is gradually appropriated by the individual learner through interactions. Typically coregulation involves a student and an other (usually a more capable other, such as a more advanced student, peer tutor, and so on) sharing in the regulation of the student’s learning. Hadwin & Oshige p. 254

Applications from workplace setting:
In the last few years two others of the senior faculty have gotten additional degrees – one a PhD and the other a MS – and yet neither of them tend to talk about the research that they did or that they read. My dean also finished his EdD in the last few years, and he similarly doesn’t thread references to research into his regular communication (mostly. see below.). Research really only comes up with these three if I bring it up – I had a lovely conversation with Jody (the PhD) about leadership styles on our way home from the ACRL conference, as I was working on those readings at the time. So I don’t have particularly solid examples among my peers for how this can work.

I should mention, though, the example of the dean. He is very fond of the Bolman & Deal “four frames” idea for academia – and I’ve found that since I also like that model, he and I have a bit of shorthand that we use with each other. It’s not an obvious reference to literature, but rather comments like “ok, but what if we look at this from the political frame?” In addition, he has a tendency to provide links in his regular all-hands update emails to articles that he is reading (though most of these are from the popular/trade press like the CHE). I’ve picked that habit up and try to remember to include a link to something from our courses when I think my folks will find them interesting.

Where we do tend to bring in the literature is when we’re working on a new project. Right now the liaisons have a number of projects underway, and their first step tends to be to do a literature review (might as well practice what we preach!). So while we don’t tend to randomly throw in references to general/day-to-day practice, we do deliberately seek out information for new or developing practices.

Step 2. Hold an on-line Conversation

Thoughts on the fishbowl:  Note that my group did the fishbowl this week. It was Amanda, Karen, and myself – we couldn’t come up with a time when all four of us in the group could meet to talk.

I think all three of us struggled somewhat in finding quotations for the provocative question, and we ended up all going in very different directions. However, I very much valued our conversation about collaboration, the value of small failures (and small wins) in building community and furthering projects, and how we were thinking about bringing the literature and our own research into conversations with stakeholders in our problems of practice. Our discussion lasted longer than we thought, we were having such a good conversation!

Here’s the link.

Step 3. Determine your Leadership Challenge/new leadership challenge

This week I want to have a conversation with my dean about how he makes a connection between research and practice, and whether he has thoughts about how well that works for him.

Step 4. Implement and Reflect

Module 13 LdC – Reported in the final report.