Karmel as a strategic leader
“Individuals and teams enact strategic leadership when they create the direction, alignment, and commitment needed to achieve the enduring performance potential of the organization” (Hughes et al. (2014, p.11). For me when I think about strategic leadership I think of working on myself first. When doing the following assignment my focus is self-improvement and achievement of personal goals along with professional goals. I am currently a care coordinator, and to reach my professional goal in higher management I need to become more strategic. I need to improve myself to become a better leader and more strategic. I realize I am not able to achieve those goals on my own. Although it may be a personal goal of career, family, I need support from others to achieve it. “The waves in our surfer’s ocean provide an analogy: as each wave crashes to the surface, it disturbs the water, which moves in reaction to the falling wave. External forces such as the wind also affect the waves” (Hughes et al. 2014, p.15). For me to become a better strategic leader, I need to understand the threats, supports, opportunities that I will encounter in my journey. Challenges and support system will help me become a better person, leader, and be able to strategize better.
What is your general response to the circumstances you presently face in your life?
Before sharing how I respond to general circumstances, I would like to share a sample of my busy day to give you an idea. I am currently very busy with my job which is full-time Monday to Friday 0730-1530. I am teaching an online course (on Moodle) at Stenberg College, it is only 6 weeks and one week left so I am glad. I do not wish to take on any teaching contracts until after I finish my school now, next March 2019. I also work at my husband’s clinic twice a week, Thursday and Saturdays. I have all of these employments to help me with my school tuition as it can be very expensive. I have two children, son 14 and daughter 9. They are pretty well behaved and self-managed for which I am very grateful. Now that I have shared my general circumstances in my life, I can feel overwhelmed from time to time. This semester with my 501 course has been quite challenging due to Word Press. I am confident with Moodle and learning my way through Word Press. I feel lost and overwhelmed by Word Press. Generally, I can manage stress fairly well. I think just not knowing and not being able to fully navigate myself around Word Press is frustrating. The coursework is already a load but trying to figure out Word press is not fun. I like to be organized and plan ahead of time. When I can do this, I feel more comfortable and can perform better. I am fortunate enough to have been certified in both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). I don’t just preach this I also practice it. I found this has helped me tremendously in dealing with my personal stress levels. “Cognitive therapy helps people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving which aims to reduce their psychological distress” (McLeod, 1970). CBT has taught me to build better skills and deal with stressors more rationally. “First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment” (Psychology Today, 2018). DBT has taught me to stay in the moment and stay grounded. My general response is a feeling of worry and anxiety and both CBT and DBT skills I teach to my patients I review them myself as well. Other ways of dealing with my circumstances if they are causing stress is working out. “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem” (Anxiety and Depression Association of American, 2018). I find if I don’t work out in the morning, dealing with certain circumstance during the day is much more difficult.
How do you handle the stressors you face?
Personally, when I face stressors I can be overwhelmed. I have a tendency to become anxious. I can be emotional. However, it really depends on the type of stressor it is. For example, if it has to do with the health of a loved one, that is when I become anxious and worried. Other life stressors I can usually manage well because I have support from my family. Again, as stated earlier CBT and DBT training and certification was the best thing I could have done. I also find praying helps me. I find having in faith in God gives me hope. I manage stress well through managing my emotions. “Controlling emotions involves attempts to dominate, suppress or restrain thoughts, feelings and behaviour”(Hasson, 2015, p.57). Emotional Intelligence by Gill Hasson is a great read and has taught me a lot to manage emotions. I try not to worry about things I can’t control but it really depends on the situation as well. Some stressors are uncontrolled, for example; health of a loved one, in this case, I can only provide support and do the best I can to be with them as needed.
Professionally, I can conduct myself really well. I am very assertive and less emotional when it comes to my professional life. I have a different relationship with my colleagues, bosses, employees then I do with my own family. I can handle work stress much better, and be more logical and rational. One of the resources I found which have brought a significant change in me is Crucial Conversations. This book has been informative and taught me how to handle stress at work. “Not only do those who are best at crucial conversations notice when they’re slipping into silence or violence, but they’re also able to admit it” (Patterson et al. 2012, p.113). Though learning how to better communicate has brought these changes in me as a professional. I am open to collaborating with the team at work if it is a work stressor. For example; our facility often has palliative residents, this can be quite stressful. Our team supports each other through this tough time. The moral support from the team helps me deal with any stressor in my professional life as well. Another example I can share is being rejected after an interview for a job. I had applied many times for a coordinator position before I actually landed my current position which I am in for over two years now. How did I deal with this stressor? I never gave up. I am resilient when it comes to professionalism. Had I given up, I would have never applied after a few rejections. My previous manager had said to me, “Kamal sky is the limit, never cut yourself short” (Manager from Mental health, 2015). Three years ago he said this to me and I never forgot. I worked with him for 10 years until March 2016 and to this day when I run into him at Fraser Health events etc., he motivates me. Sometimes we need a push from other and realize our potential. I can one other example when one of my patients committed suicide. I was devastated. This same manager said to me, “you have to build resilience and deal with emotions better because many times in health care you will come across tragic situations” (Manager from Mental Health, 2015). Through experience, I have become better at dealing with professional life stressors.
What are your wants and needs for changing or strengthening your responses?
In my personal response, I would like to become more grounded in my emotions as well. I am working on my emotional responses in my personal situations. “The strategic leader must keep long-term goals in mind while working on to achieve short-term objectives” (Hughes, et.al. 2014, p.15). For example; previously I would jump to conclusions but now I am more rational. I also have set both long-term and immediate goals to improve my responses. One goal is to listen thoroughly, gather facts, think, and reflect before responding. This is an ongoing process, the more I practice the better I will become. Self-awareness is the key. As I continue to become a better person in my personal life, I will continue to improve my professional responses as well. “Strategy involves change, and achieving long-term performance potential in an ever-changing environment requires continuous change” (Hughes, et al. 2014, p.21). I also found is perhaps changing perspective. Not everyone will share my opinions and thoughts. “One of the benefits of becoming self-reflective is gaining balance and greater perspective in your life” (Kraemer, 2015, p.28). Having an open-mind helped me become better at responding. I practice staying calm and don’t have expectations from others. I practice more giving and less receiving.
Professionally, I have become quite comfortable in how I respond. The more experience I gain, the better I am becoming in my leadership position. Each situation has taught me something different. I don’t’ believe this is something that can be mastered. I will continue to learn and gain insight into my responses. The only way I will learn is by learning how my responses have affected certain people in certain situations. Crucial conversations when stakes are high are my absolute go-to tool. For example, previously I would become defensive with my manager when she has given me negative feedback. Now, I listen well, I absorb and reflect before responding. I have become better at my job as a coordinator which has increased my confidence level. Because my confidence has increased, I have become more patient with criticism, and with others. “So be patient when exploring how others think and feel. Encourage them to share their path and then wait for their emotions to catch up with the safety that you’ve created” (Patterson et al. 2012, p.159). I have also become better at responding through being more mindful about others emotions.
For both personal and professional response, I change my perspective and my approach. I accept not everyone will think the way I do. Professionally I do not take sides and respond in fairness and honesty. As a leader, it is my responsibility to ensure I listen to everyone. My response can have a positive or negative effect on others whether personal or professional.
What are your strengths and weakness with regard to the desired changes in your life?
In my personal life, I would like to become more emotionally grounded. I like to worry less. My strengths in achieving this would utilize the techniques which I have taught to my patients again as mentioned earlier the CBT and DBT. The CBT triangle about emotions, thoughts and feelings is one of the main techniques. These would be worry techniques and skills to manage stress. My weaknesses are again my emotions. Emotional intelligence by Gill Hasson once again has been a great tool for me to manage this. I have become much better at it. It is a lifelong working progress. My strength is my family’s support. My strength is my commitment to my family, my commitment to myself to become a better version of myself. “Acceptance of yourself, recognizing your strengths and skill mastery, as well as your weaknesses, while focusing on continuous improvement” (Kraemer, 2015, p.1). I can read this book over and over again because this book has been a life changer for me. This whole master’s program has been a life changing experience. I have learned a lot about myself and grown to be a better person. Each and every book has left a significant impact on me both personally and professionally.
Professionally, my weaknesses are somewhat the lack of experience which I don’t’ have when compared to those who do. My strengths are the knowledge I have gained through my leadership experience and through my education in the master’s program. Both in my personal and professional life, I utilize goal setting. CBT is well aware of the SMART model stated by Lepsinger 2010. “SMART goals also ensure there are no misunderstandings about what is expected so that follow-up conversations will be constructive rather than frustrating or punishing” (Lepsinger, 2010, p.62). SMART goals will help me work on my weaknesses and improve as I move forward.
What personal and professional mission, vision, and values do you practice?
Mission: to be the best I can be
Vision: to be a good daughter, wife and mother.
Values: I value honesty, hard work, knowledge, compassion, and family.
Mission: To be the best I can be
Vision: to become a director in mental Health teach nursing at Douglas College, and build my company Medi-Mental Health and Homecare.
Values: I value honesty, hard work, knowledge, compassion, and family.
What key strategic drivers will help you create significant impact for achieving your potential?
The key strategic driver in my personal life is my family. Their support is essential for me. My other key drivers are my Profs and my role models. My family keeps me grounded and the motivation to succeed and be the best version of myself. My professors educate me, their motivation, and encouragement and faith in me have brought me to where I am in my master’s program today. My role models give me the drive to be like them. These role models are already successful nurses who are teaching or in management, are directors. I have hope, one day I also will reach at my best potential. All of these key drivers in my personal life push me to do the best.
In my professional life, my key drivers are my manager, employees, and colleagues. Each and every one of these individuals brings along something different for me to learn from. There is no way I will become anything with support. It is the collaboration of all of these individuals in my life which will help me align all my stars in the right direction. Each one of these key drivers has different educational backgrounds and experiences. Their stories of success in their professional life help me set goals for myself.
What areas will you abandon for your future development?
I understand there will be sacrifices for me both personally and professionally for future development. Personally, I do have certain people in my circle which I will have let go. It is the lifestyle and negative energy which can be emotionally draining. I know we all have these types of individuals around us. “I need to let go of the busy day-to-day activities and spend more time thinking about the future” (Hughes et al. 2014, p. 15). I also may need to quit working evenings and Saturdays at my husband’s clinic because that is not my passion. I am aware I have a lot on my plate, perhaps it needs to be emptied to pursue my passion and career. I have also opened a company Medi-Mental Health and Homecare to which I am not able to devote any time. This is due to my current obligations towards school. Once I graduate I will have more time and then I can make my company my priority in place of my school.
Professionally, I might also have to compromise when needed to gain experience. For example, to obtain this coordinator’s position I had to give up mental health. I was a nurse in the community but I have dreams and desires to be a director one day. I had applied for many coordinators’ positions in mental health and never was given an opportunity. My current coordinator’s position is in residential care, in a dementia facility. It is very different from mental health such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, bipolar etc. I had to compromise so I can gain experience. I enjoy what I do, but mental health has always been my passion. Hopefully, I will reach my goal to be a director in mental health one day.
What areas will you excel in?
I am working on myself every day to be a better person, to be a better daughter, wife, a mother, a leader, a friend, a colleague. I am determined to excel in my professional life and become a director and possibly a nursing instructor at Douglas College. Once I have finished my master’s program I will be able to devote time and energy towards my company Medi-Mental Health and Homecare as well. I have full faith in my future.
Explain the personal/professional culture you want to develop from the mission, vision, values and drivers envisioned and how they align with your present/future success.
Whether it is personal or professional, I like unity. I like teamwork; I like honesty and hard work. I have always admired love and compassion. I am grateful to what God has given me today. I am fortunate because I have my family walking with me every step of the way. Whether it is present or my future, in order to achieve my goals I cannot do it on my own. Every individual in my life contributes to my success in some way. My family has been my pillar. What I have learned from the past has moulded me into who I am today. The present is teaching me more about life and giving me opportunities to excel further. They are all interconnected. For example; I never just wanted to be a frontline nurse. I graduated with a diploma in 2007 in psychiatric nursing. My vision to step into management pushed me to start taking online courses to complete my degree in psychiatric nursing. While I was working on completing my degree I started to search for the master’s program. I came across Trinity Western University and went to the information session for my master’s program I am currently in. This was it, I started this journey in Jan 2016, slowly but surely my starts are starting to align and I am many steps close today to reach my goal then I was two years ago.
I am a developing strategic leader. To become a better strategic leader: I realized a long time ago, change is inevitable. I understand success is a process of a team effort. For me, this team effort is mainly my family. I came this far, in my career, schooling with the support from family. My family is the pillar. Along with it comes faith, faith in the process. I have always imagined a certain career, a certain goal. I am not quite there yet, but I am definitely going on the right path because windows of opportunities are starting to open up. I am teaching online nursing, which will eventually give me the experience I need to teach at Douglas College. I am in a coordinator position, and with experience, I am getting close to becoming a manager, then director. I understand the need for all the steps I have to take in order to get to where I want to. Each step of the way I am becoming more self-aware. Through each experience, I am learning to become a better person. Through making mistakes, through learning from others and through education I am undergoing the process of self-improvement. I discover something new every day. I will continue to improve myself and invest in myself.
Leader development begins with visioning and assessment. Before jumping into specific developmental activities to become more strategic, we encourage you to do several things. First, take some reflection time and imagine yourself leading strategically. What will it look like when you are there? How will it feel? What behaviours will you demonstrate? What will be their impact on others? What will other people’s perception of you be? How will you know when you are doing it? (Hughes et al. 2014, p.265).
The above quote from Becoming a Strategic Leader is going to be my personal and professional reflection tool. Whether it is for my career to become a director, nursing instructor and build a better company, this is what I will utilize to assess my performance in my journey to become a better strategic leader.
Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
Hasson, G., & Hasson, G. (2015). Understanding emotional intelligence. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Hughes, R. L., Beatty, K. C., & Dinwoodie, D. L. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader your role in your organizations enduring success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kraemer, H. M. (2015). Becoming the best: Build a world-class organization through values-based leadership. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Lepsinger, R. (2010). Closing the execution gap: How great leaders and their companies get results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
McLeod, S. (1970, January 01). Saul McLeod. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-therapy.html
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial Conversations. New York: McGraw-Hill.