When I was first accepted to the Princeton Emerging Leaders program, I had never given much thought to management style or some of the personality or behavioral reasons behind why some people operate the way that they do in a professional environment. I operated the way that I did because of the way that I thought was best, but also modeled off previous managers whom I respected and valued. In a day where there are many things that need to get done – managerial technique or process was just something that I did not have the time to address or stop and think about. I knew that I wanted the opportunity to receive professional development and learn from others, given that I operated in an essentially one-person office, but it was something that I did not think I had the time for.
For this reason, the Emerging Leaders program has been a breath of fresh air in that it has forced me to take a day every month and remove myself from the bubble of my organization and our short-term goals and think both personally and professionally about my long-term goals. In a world where short-term results and goals are critical, the big picture and one’s long-term professional development can often get overlooked and I felt as though I was in that boat. Operating in a role where I did not have a direct supervisor as the head of our organization, but a nonprofit board as a ‘supervisor’, it was difficult to learn best practices. I had learned some very important and critical lessons from our Board Chair over my first two years at the organization, but never quite the rationale at a higher level.
When I read the article “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?”, it really opened my eyes to the rationale behind how managers should operate and why I kept feeling like I had a to-do list that was endless, I just thought it was because I was overly productive. I knew I needed to improve on my delegating skills – but I didn’t quite know how to effectively go about it and while this didn’t give a clear-cut solution, it more or less just pushed me in the right direction.
Right away, I had a few of my colleagues who I manage read the article just to put them in my shoes, and I also re-read it to put myself in the shoes of my Board Chair, and I’ve been pleased with the results. It’s now mandatory reading on my staff, and I think that it has really helped my relationships both with those I manage and those that manage me. I can already see great strides of improvement in those I manage and I think it’s because of the way that I was able to put more responsibility on them in a way that made sense for both of us. For my professional career, this was one of the most helpful articles that I’ve ever read, and was really my ‘a-ha’ moment regarding professional development at this stage in my career. So, thank you for that opportunity!