Guest Blog: Results in Action from American Express Leadership Academy

Guest Blog: Results in Action from American Express Leadership Academy

The following guest blog was written by YNPN National Board Member, Jessie Bustamante. Thank you, Jesse, for sharing your lessons learned from the American Express Leadership Academy and how you're utilizing them months after the Academy wrapped up! 

How often do you get to spend nearly 5 days solely focused on your own leadership development? Hmmm… probably never, right?

I was extremely honored to be one of eight YNPN Chapter Leaders across the country selected to participate in the American Express Leadership Academy at the end of October, 2014. If I tell you it was life-changing it’d be a lie because it was so much more than that and it’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for having this opportunity because of the YNPN network and the value that our partners, such as American Express, can see.

We spent one full week diving into various assessments, tons of lessons about feedback, team-building, conflict resolution, the list goes on & on!

Leadership assessments we completed:

  • 360-degree assessment - a method of systematically collecting opinions about an individual's performance from a wide range of coworkers. This could include peers, direct reports, the boss, the boss's peers — along with people outside the organization.
  • FIRO-B - a unique instrument that doesn’t actually “measure” anything. Instead, it provides a score that is used to estimate how comfortable an individual is with a specific behavior which includes Inclusion, Control & Affection(expressed vs. wanted behavior) 

To give you an idea of my takeaways, here is the recap I sent my team:

“… I spent 5 days last week diving deep into my strengths and potential areas of “derailment” in my career.
The biggest take away I have is the self-awareness of how I can be the best leader possible and ensuring that I am effectively working with all of you to support your individual endeavors.
An area that I hope to make some changes are around incorporating regular feedback in meetings, conversations, etc. and providing more opportunities for growth for those in our office.
I am hoping you can help me by being open and honest when I ask for feedback so that I can be a more effective leader. This process will be ongoing and you will receive another brief survey in the next few months to see if you have seen any changes in my leadership behaviors.”

Just as I mentioned above, the goal after all of these assessments were layered on top of one another were to be self-aware. Self-aware of the fact that we all have strengths, but we all have “opportunities for derailment” as well. The only way we can be the best leader possible is to be aware of these & find ways that will help us navigate through the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.

From here it’s up to us to put our new knowledge into practice be being aware of who we are and ensuring that we are leading environments that are effective, positive and supportive for all. For myself I learned that building and supporting my team was very important to my position and could use more of my time.

Therefore I have started using more solution-based questions and coaching questions to ensure that I am asking for the feedback I need from my team members and ensuring that they are given the chance to truly express themselves. I have been very open with those around me to let them know that I am listening to the feedback I received (specifically from the 360-degree assessment) and trying some new things to continue improving myself and how our team functions.

The Leadership Academy was just a continuation of my leadership journey, but definitely one of the highest points of my career. So next year when you see this opportunity come across your e-mail, be sure to take advantage of this and you’ll understand why I am on such a “high” right now.

Thank you, American Express & YNPN, for making this a reality for me.

JesseBustamanteHeadshotJessie Bustamante is the Executive Director for the American Lung Association in California – San Diego. She is an active YNPN National and YNPN San Diego Board Member because she knows the value of the YNPN movement and has enjoyed watching its growth over the past four years, but is more excited to see what the next 44 bring! Jessie is originally from Chicago before moved to Arizona where she completed her undergraduate and graduate studies and now resides in San Diego where she’s been for two years with her husband, Luis, and their Australian Shepherd, Cujo. If you’re looking for Jessie beware that she is training for a full marathon in May 2015 so you may be running to catch up with her… literally.
Connect with Jessie: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / LinkedIn

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