With a sense of urgency that comes with times of sudden change, my Malat learnings have become a reality. No longer able to “dip my toes into digital delivery” or “try some things out” I had to execute the ideas and apply the knowledge I’ve gained in my studies while at the same time being asked to provide guidance and direction for digital development and delivery of course material.
As a group we were coming together and pooling our skill sets to facilitate a major, department wide, delivery model change and I am fortunate that the Chair of my department understands that everyone has something to offer to the group.
As the college transitioned from a face to face delivery model to digital online delivery I could see how the department Chair was establishing protocols that would allow for the development of leadership roles that were outside of the norm. The ability to develop leadership potential in others is an important aspect of a good leader (Huggins, 2017) and I was experiencing it firsthand. There were instances where individuals were encourage to bring their skills to bear against the problems faced by the department, providing direction and guidance when and where needed. It has been interesting to see such a dramatic change being ushered in using such a flexible, adaptable approach.
Two basic change theories identified by Beer and Nohria are Theory E and Theory O. These two theories describe very different approaches to change, one driven by commerce, Theory E, and the other by organizational capability, Theory O. Considered a soft approach by the authors, the Theory O approach to change management focuses on developing capabilities of individuals while encouraging involvement, feedback and reflection (Beer, Nohria, 2000). To encourage adaptability and brain storming, we were all encouraged to collaborate as a group and come up with actionable ideas to support each other through the transition.
Some of the group could help with creating questions for exams while others demonstrated different ways of hosting and presenting material. We established a list of substitute instructors, in order of capability of filling in should one of us become ill and added guest instructors to our Moodle shells to allow for alternate instructor access should it be required. The communication was bidirectional and accommodating of individual abilities and needs (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). I found I was spending more time listening than I was speaking as it was through the listening I was able to identify the need and develop an understanding of the issue.
As I look back on my post regarding leadership and qualities that make for a good leader I would have to acknowledge that I didn’t really give much consideration to listening. Certainly I ask a lot of questions and reflect upon the answers to those questions but no where did I mention listening and hearing.
If there’s one thing this period of change has shown me; it’s that a good leader is one who listens to their followers and hears what they are trying to say.
Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215
Beer, M. and Nohria, N. (2000), “Cracking the code of change”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 78 No. 3, pp. 133-141. http://ceewl.ca/12599-PDF-ENG.PDF#page=89
Huggins, K. S. (2017). Developing Leadership Capacity in Others: An Examination of High School Principals’ Personal Capacities for Fostering Leadership. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.22230/ijepl.2017v12n1a670