How Perspectives is Growing the Next Generation of Leadership

By Sara Porcaro | Mar 2, 2021
Growth, Leadership, Training, Company Culture, Rhode Island, Disability Services, Professional

When it comes to professional development, it's all too common to be focused on trying to build oneself where they believe they're lacking. No one is perfect, after all; there's always something, promised in the headline of an article or the title of the next webinar event, that can help us find the resources and tools we need to make progress in the places where we see ourselves as weak. But what if, in our team-building and leadership training efforts, we focused on where we're strong instead?
It's a question worth exploring, and that's why at Perspectives, our training team recently launched their newest program, Learn to LEAD. Like-minded agencies and professionals such as Advancing Workplace Excellence (AWE) and Strengths Coach Cindy Scibetta Butts worked partnered with Perspectives' Training Department to provide training on leadership emotional intelligence and developing their leadership strengths. The leadership program focuses on emotional agility, inclusive leadership, navigating difficult conversations, and more. Ultimately, it aims to develop Perspectives' leaders and continue to promote a leadership culture built on employee engagement, support, mutual respect, collaboration and teamwork.
"We are very excited to be working with AWE, as their beliefs on 'humanizing' the workplace are in alignment with ours," says Training Director Lynne Chaput. "We really believe that the Leadership Training will not only help develop someone as a leader, but also help with their personal growth, as well."
Within the name, LEAD stands for "Leadership Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Accountability, and Developing and Growing Employees." The curriculum, delivered through virtual training sessions, assessments, Leadership Circles, and online learning assignments. Participants have an opportunity to apply what they've learned in their leadership roles within the agency; they can focus on being an empathetic leader that develops positive relationships with employees, building their team's confidence and inspiring employees to do their best work in turn. Learn to LEAD is designed to let participants' strengths lead them to personal growth based not on thinking of faults and problems to solve on their own, but on strengths--the self confidence to know where one excels, and where they can collaborate with other team members whose strengths compliment their own to make a well-rounded workplace.
"LEAD is not a traditional approach to leadership training," says Training Director PJ Harder. "We wanted to deliver a high-impact, comprehensive leadership program that would accelerate personal and professional growth, build self-awareness of leadership strengths, and identify development areas to take their leadership skills to the next level."

Growing the Strengths for Leadership

Through Learn to LEAD, participants have a chance to discover how to use their strengths, specifically CliftonStrengths, to their advantage. The program has all members take Gallup, Inc.'s CliftonStrengths assessment, created by Don Clifton, that focuses not where one needs to improve, but where they're already powerful, and shows them how to use that power to their advantage as they work with others. To further drive that home, leaders from within Perspectives, such as CEO Judy Niedbala, COO Kim Einloth, and HR Director Amy Page, shared their leadership experiences and how knowing their leadership strengths pushed them forward, both personally and professionally.
"Strengths are something you take home with you," says Strengths Coach Cindy. "It's something that gets employees talking about what they're really good at, which brings about immediate and long term positive results, such as improved collaboration. That has huge benefits for companies, because employees are able to feel better, work together better, and figure out their goals and relationships better."
"[CliftonStrengths] has huge benefits for companies, because employees are able to feel better, work together better, and figure out their goals and relationships better."
"I love trainings and getting to learn new things," says Site Supervisor Billie Jo Gray, "but this one was inspiring from the get-go. In the Deaf and Hard of Hearing department, we're all about teamwork, and already, I've learned a lot about how to deal with conflict and activate my skills."
Cindy is a longtime colleague of PJ's in the world of coaching fellow professionals, with over twenty years of experience. She came aboard during the program orientation meeting to discuss the power of CliftonStrengths, and was excited to show Perspectives employees the possibilities that can open up when one has confidence in the strengths they excel in. She reviewed participant's top strengths after they'd taken the assessment, showing not only their personal power, but how their skills mesh with their peers in the program--and how critical it is to have a team of diverse, balanced skills working towards one common goal.
"It's natural to hyper focus on where we feel insufficient in our leadership ability," says Program Manager Dave Lizotte, "but this [training] has given me insight into myself and where I can look to rely on other members of my team for support when trying to achieve our goals."

Professionals' Goals for the Future with Learn to LEAD

For Learn to LEAD participants, those goals are ones inspired by their commitment to not only the individuals we support, but the hundreds of our professionals that work hard to ensure their days are productive, fun, and safe. Leaders are coming together to participate from across the agency, from Youth and Family Services to Adult Services and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. The virtual training sessions have been a joy for participants, and with the diversity in professionals, there's also been a focus on ensuring trainings are inclusive and accessible.
"The trainings have been really Deaf-friendly," Wendy Clemmey, Assistant Program Manager signs. "It's important that we have plenty of visuals and hands-on activities, and the trainings we've done so far have been very sensitive to that." On the curriculum, she notes, "This training has helped me become a more organized leader and see where I can supplement my strengths with my team."
Now, as the program continues, everyone is working hard to not only improve themselves as leaders, but to also encourage their team members to chase after their own dreams of leadership as they advance their own careers. The future of Perspectives lies in the hands of professionals who, in their drive to see individuals succeed, likewise push each other to succeed, and we're proud of the many participants who have taken that next step towards improving their understanding of what it means to be a leader. Here's to a fantastic rest of the program--and a big congratulations to the Training Department and their partners for their careful work in creating such a great opportunity for personal and professional growth!


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