Women in Leadership: Jann Freed

The Women in Leadership series of lunches continues on April 20th with Dr. Jann Freed. Jann is the author of Leading with Wisdom: Sage Advice from 100 Experts . She is also a leadership development and change management consultant. After a 30-year career at Central College, Jann is professor emerita of business management and the former Mark and Kay De Cook Endowed Chair in Leadership and Character Development. Dr. Freed is active at Central Presbyterian Church and a member of the Women’s Leadership Connection of United Way.

Prior to the lunch, The Wallace Centers of Iowa (WCI) reached out to Jann (JF)  with a question:

WCI:  When one looks at your background in teaching and coaching leaders we are curious, which of the eight civility practices, that are taught through Wallace Centers of Iowa programs show up in the work you do?

JF: There are two that come to mind immediately…

Listening to others and asking questions to understand his or her perspective.
I like to remind myself that “leadership is not a title and not a position. It is a relationship. And the best way to build relationships is to ask questions and to listen.  Leaders often want to do the talking and don’t make time to listen.  Leaders also feel we need to have the answers when maybe people just need us to listen.  I often reflect on this story as a reminder to listen.
When I was the Interim Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Central College, I had an older male professor who made an appointment.  I was unclear about his agenda, but I just let him talk.  He was struggling with some issues and got emotional. When there was a pause, I asked him what he wanted me to do—how I could best help him.  He replied, “Nothing really.  I just needed to talk and I thank you for listening.”
We are living and working at a time when research says more people are lonelier than in the past. We may be “connected,” but we are feeling disconnected. People would rather text than talk. We have fewer people we can count on in times of emergencies and fewer we trust.  Maybe people just need us to listen and not always try to solve all of the problems.JFquote2
Recognizing the efforts others have made by providing positive feedback.
In the early 1980s when I started college teaching, Ken Blanchard wrote the book The One Minute Manager. His main premise was to take a minute and give feedback. When you see someone doing something right, tell s/he right then and there.  Don’t wait until a performance appraisal.  When you see someone doing something that could be improved, take one minute and tell them right then so s/he can start doing it correctly. I have always tried to do this. Since making postcards is my hobby, I also write a lot of notes. Research says that easiest thing a great leader can do to increase the support and engagement of employees and that is to recognize great work. Recognition directly affects morale and engagement. Handwritten notes trump email messages and public recognition in a meeting or peer group makes people feel even more appreciated.
In times of tight resources when it is hard to offer other incentives, positive feedback and recognition only takes a little time.  It is basically free. We should use it more often, but only when it is authentic. If it is not genuinely deserved, then it will not be accepted and not result in higher morale and engagement.
While I send notes of sincere appreciation for the benefit of others, I have to say I am honored when I walk into the office and see my postcard posted on their wall or when I have students tell me they saved my cards.  It must have made an impression which is reinforcement for me to continuing to take the time to recognize the efforts of others.
WCI:  Those examples really bring the concept of civility to life. The whole I idea of a leader being a person who is building relationships is powerful. Thank you for taking time to reflect on these questions.  We look forward to your presentation on April 20th, 2016.
Gather 510 px squareThe Wallace Centers of Iowa shares tips, tools, and programs for leading with civility in business and the workplace. 

Women in Leadership: Christina Moffatt

cmquoteEach spring, The Wallace Centers of Iowa offers a leadership and civility lunch series. The theme for 2016 connects with a broader trend around the expanding awareness about the lack of women in leadership roles. For example according to an article published by Fast Company magazine:

Men and women score nearly equally in their ability to drive businesses, but fewer women are able to get beyond lower-level leadership positions.

 The premise of the article is that more are more women are having access to education and lower levels of leadership opportunity yet the higher level positions remain out of reach.

The legacy of the Wallace family includes strong female leaders, like Nancy Cantwell Wallace who was the founder of the Women’s Press Club.  This pioneering sense of change is what drives The Wallace Centers of Iowa to seek out and share the stories of women leaders from the Des Moines community.  The goal is to highlight women who do lead as a model in a state that comes in near the bottom in terms of ranking for women owned businesses. The first lunch on April 6, 2016 from 11:30 to 1 will feature Christina Moffatt who owns Crème Cupcake + Dessert and is the regional director for the Mid Iowa Small Business Development Center.

Christina is a graduate of DMACC and Iowa State University, Moffatt also devotes her time and talents to local boards including the Women’s Reciprocity Group, Winefest Grand Cru, and the Des Moines Downtown Chamber, where she serves as 2011 President. Moffatt has won several awards for her business including DSM Top List Best Bakery, Cityview’s Best Dessert, Sweet Equality Best Dessert, runner-up for the Iowa Mixology Competition and runner-up on The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Moffatt is also a Business Record’s 40 Under Forty, and the 2012 Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award

Prior to the lunch, The Wallace Centers of Iowa (WCI) reached out to ask Christina (CM) a few questions:

WCI:  Looking at your background and talents anyone can see you are a leader because of the number of accomplishments you have achieved. Which of the eight civility practices, that are taught through Wallace Centers of Iowa programs have helped you in the work you do?

CM: Three civility practices come to mind. The first, paying attention to detail or noticing things other people might miss yet are important for results to occur, comes from my experience as an entrepreneur. Crème’s dessert lounge launched on this concept as I thought there was a lack in Des Moines in the dessert world. Thus, the dessert lounge concept was born with beautiful plated desserts that pushed the palates paired with handcrafted cocktails.

WCI:  That is true, your concept is unique and if you weren’t paying attention it would have been a missed opportunity.  What are the other examples?

CM: The two other examples go together: giving constructive feedback in order to improve relationships or results and being able to see and articulate the possibilities so people can dream and grow. At SBDC (Small Business Development Center) we do this daily with our clients. We discuss their business and possibilities so that they can grow. We give constructive feedback so they make wise decisions moving forward and hopefully see possibilities of what they can become.

WCI:  Thank for taking time to ponder the eight civility practices. We look forward to your presentation on Wednesday, April 6th.

Gather 510 px squareThe Wallace Centers of Iowa shares tips, tools, and programs for leading with civility in business and the workplace. 


Leadership Lessons from a Community Organizer

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Jordan Kauffman, a young professional with a strong voice for making a difference in our community has experience with community organizing and the concept of relational meetings.  These two concepts are worth exploring as models of leadership that can also apply in the workplace.

Tell readers a little about yourself.

I’m a proud Des Moines native, and after living throughout the country, I moved back here 4 years ago. I am currently serving in the Public Allies Iowa AmeriCorps program, which has been an incredible leadership development & national service opportunity. I have a background in urban planning, so I get very excited about things like beekeeping, stormwater management, and asset-based community development. I love doing yoga, painting, playing the piano, and singing karaoke with my friends. Saying my interests are varied would be an understatement!

What are relational meetings?

Relational meetings are the very heart of community organizing. And so in order to best define the relational meeting, I think I need to define my understanding of community organizing.  Many people have a preconceived notion of organizing as a highly contentious, confrontational activities that pits “underdogs” against “bad guys.” In fact, some of this stereotype is borne from the historical roots of the labor union organizing movement. But community organizing can take many forms, and looks very different today. What does remain true, however, is that Community Organizers seek to meet people in the world as it exists, understand their passions & concerns, and work with them to construct meaningful, sustainable tactics in order to overcome problems so that the world becomes how we’d like it to be, little by little.

So again, the relational meeting is the heart of community organizing. A face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with the intention of exploring the possibility of a public relationship in reference to a specific cause or project. Because you want to know more about that person – their talent, energy, interests, and vision. The most important part of a relational meeting is being a good listener! You know you’re doing a good job listening when you’re easily able to ask questions that keep the person talking about the things that are important to them. Pay attention to what topics create the highest energy & most interest, and especially the stories they share. Be prepared to share authentically about yourself as well!

There is only one thing to ask for after a relational meeting – IF the person expresses interest & excitement about learning more or getting involved, THEN you make an invitation based on THEIR interest. The relational meeting is a highly powerful tool for developing effective, sustainable relationships as they pertain to your organization.*

* The italicized info above is paraphrased from a handout I received at the AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) training – just want to give credit where credit is due 😉

Quote by Jordan Learning the craft of the relational meeting is absolutely a practice-makes-perfect thing, and one I am still working on! What has been fascinating to me, though, is how this method of setting an intention of exploring a public relationship related to a mutual interest or common goal and then sharing information in an active listening setting can have such striking results! When we approach new potential colleagues or collaborators, infusing our conversations with authenticity pays off in leaps & bounds.

What has it been like to apply this concept to the work you do?

Applying this concept of creating meaningful, sustainable relationships has really become the backbone of all the work I do – whether that be through the Public Allies Iowa program serving at the Polk County Health Department, as part of the Communications Team for the Forest Avenue Community Orchard in Riverbend, or as a volunteer baseball coach for my son’s Little League team.

What motivates you to keep learning new concepts/skills like relational meetings?

I have always been driven by a nearly unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to continue learning! I’m a little bit like Sherlock Holmes – when something doesn’t add up, I simply have to “get to the bottom of it”!

Do you consider yourself a leader or an emerging leader?

I do consider myself a leader, because I believe leadership is action anybody can take – not just a role a few privileged can hold. But I also consider myself an emerging leader because I’m always learning, always developing, and always growing. All the experiences I have, and each new person I meet & connect with, everything informs my development as a leader. So it’s a very active, ongoing process.

Graphic of Cultivate

Seeds of Civility aims to generate conversations about civility and leadership in the workplace.   Keep the conversations going!