A Letter of Gratitude to Dr. Shaila Miranda

Dr. Shaila Miranda has taught me that I am the author of my story. I have known Dr. Shaila Miranda for many years. During this period, she has outperformed as a mentor and an educator. Throughout my two years at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Miranda has taken the initiative to know her students on a personal level. I first met Dr. Miranda at a riveting presentation she gave at the M.B.A. Program Prelude Week. After further interactions with Dr. Miranda, she inspired me to seek a dual-masters-degree, M.B.A. and M.S. in M.I.S rather than the traditional M.B.A degree. Dr. Miranda helped me realized my hidden passion for information systems [technology]. It takes an exceptional mentor to recognize and instill a vision so powerful that it can alter the course of a mentee.

A few semesters after our original meeting, she learned about a non-profit I was about to start. She saw how I leveraged social media to forward the cause. This inspired her to become a Sooner Ally, and other M.I.S. faculty followed suit. This demonstrates the passion and the conviction as an outstanding educator. Dr. Miranda is willing to listen, learn, and act based on her interactions with students just as much as she is willing to support them. She was demonstrating social awareness and became a model professor for those other professors in the department but model inclusive behavior to her students.

As one of her students, I was completely engaged in the course she was teaching. Her curriculum was remarkable, her lectures and active learning with real world data gave the class an invaluable insight. Dr. Miranda’s passion and commitment towards education could be seen throughout the semester when she sought employees from Devon, and other local companies, to help facilitate our education. This was her demonstrating managing relationships, which has allowed her to educate her students at a deeper level.

Her commitment to her students did not end at the end of the term. This was evident when she nominated me to represent the University of Oklahoma at the Information Systems and Walmart IT Summit. She coached the students individually, and as a group, to give us a competitive edge in the competition. As if that was not enough, her commitment to her students is so vast that she drove the team to Arkansas and attended our presentations with a video recorder at hand. It was with her lessons that took our team to 3rd place in the Walmart IT Summit Competition. She made us self-aware of ourselves and our surroundings; this is what gave us the competitive edge.

As graduation neared, she arranged mock interviews helped me land two job offers. Upon receiving both job offers, she assisted me in the decision-making process. She engaged my self-awareness and self-management sides of emotional intelligence to help me make the right decision. It was that decision, that got me the job I have now, that has allowed me to attend Colorado Technical University, to finally complete the doctorate. Thus, words cannot express how grateful I am for this outstanding educator. She got to know me as an individual, mentored me, and made me who I am today.

She had believed in me when others didn’t, and for that, I am grateful for it. She developed me into the person I am today, and she even provided me a key piece of advice towards my dissertation (the tool I eventually used to analyze my data), and she wasn’t even in the same school nor in my committee. She was still managing her relationships with me, beyond the years of completing my education in that department. She shows me that the boundaries of mentorships and relationships exist outside of an organization and traverses time. This is what I can learn from her, to believe in people that you lead.

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Compelling Topics in Leadership

Leadership Theories:

  • Chapman and Sisodia (2015) define leadership as the value they bring to people. The author’s primary guiding value is that “We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people.” This type of leadership practice stems from treating their followers the similarly to how someone would like their kids to be treated in the work environment. This type of leadership relies on coaching the leader’s followers to build on the follower’s greatness. Then recognition is done that shake employee to the core by involving the employee’s family so that the employee’s family could be proud of their spouse or parent. The goal of this type of leadership is to have the employee seen, valued, and heard such that they want to be their best and do their best not just for the company but for their co-workers as well.
  • Cashman (2010) defines leadership from an inside-out approach to personal mastery. This type of leadership style is focused on self-awareness of the leader’s conscious beliefs and shadow beliefs to grow and deepen the leader’s authenticity. Cashman pushes the leader to identify, reflect and recognize their core talents, values and purpose. With the purpose of any leadership is understanding “How am I going to make a difference?” and “How am I going to enhance other people’s lives?” Working from the leader’s core purpose releases more of that untapped leader’s energy to do more meaning work that frees the leader and opens leaders up to different possibilities, more so than just working towards a leader’s goals.
  • Open Leadership Has five rules, which allow for respect and empowerment of the customers and employees, to consistently build trust, nurtures curiosity and humility, holding openness accountable, and allows for forgiving failures (Li, 2010).  These leaders must let go of the old mentality of micromanaging because once they do let go of micromanagement, these leaders are now open to growing into new opportunities. This thought process is shared commonalities with knowledge sharing, if people were to share the knowledge that they accumulated, these people would be able to let go of your current tasks, such that these people can focus on new and better opportunities. Li stated that open Leadership allows for leaders to build, deepen, and nurture relationships with the customers and employees.  Open leadership is a theory of leadership that is customer and employee centered.
  • Values-based leadership requires four principles: self-reflection, balance, humble, and self-confidence (Kraemer, 2015). Through self-reflection, leaders identify their core beliefs and values that matter to the leader. Leaders that view situations from multiple perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of the situation are considered balanced. Humility in leaders refers to not forgetting who the leader is and where the leaders come from to gain an appreciation for each person. Finally, self-confidence is the leader accepting themselves as they are, warts and all.

Ethical Behavior

No one wakes up one day and says they will be unethical, however, small acts can build up to unethical behavior (Prentice, 2007). This conclusion on ethics is similar to a slippery slope argument. Understandably, unethical people and unethical actions aren’t equivalent to evil people or evil actions (Prentice, 2007). As stated by Chapman and Sisodia (2015), “Ethics is people.” Ethics usually involves and revolves around people. However, good intentions are not enough to ensure ethical behavior (Prentice, 2007). Thus, Prentice outlined how unethical decisions could be made:

  • Obedience to authority: following orders blindly
  • Conformity bias: observing others in a group and conforming to consciously or unconsciously
  • Incrementalism: the slippery slope argument
  • Group think: pressures to not stand out from a group consensus
  • Over-optimism: irrational beliefs led by a strong tendency of optimistic beliefs
  • Overconfidence: irrational beliefs led by a strong tendency of confidence
  • Selfserving bias: gathering information that only strengthens one’s views or self-interest and discarding challenging viewpoints
  • Framing: how a problem or situation is framed can yield different results
  • Sunk costs: continual consideration and loyalty to a bad idea, just because a significant amount or resources have been poured into the idea
  • The tangible, the close and the near term: having something tangible that is near you and close by weights more than those that are separated by distance or time or in the abstract
  • Loss aversion: people prefer not to act for fear of losing something
  • Endowment effect: people getting attached to something

Power and conflict

“‘Leadership is difficult.’ Inherent in any leadership challenge is stress. Stress comes from the environment, interpersonal conflict, the nature or amount of work, or simply the uncertain of what lies ahead.” (Shankman, Allen, & Haber Curran, 2015). Best teams can fall apart easily, due to conflict, if the conflict is not handled properly (Kraemer, 2015). Thus, when a conflict breaks, there are five strategies that people could use: forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising and collaborative; but usually, people tend to gravitate towards one or two of them (Williams, n.d.).

Kraemer (2015), illustrates the example of Campbell Soup, a company that recruited and grew in size with employees that were not aligned with the company’s values, and eventually, these people got promoted. These newly promoted ill-fitted employees were unequipped to create the best teams, and a few bad apples and negative influences almost destroyed the company, because of their concentration on short-term goals rather than long-term goals by increasing the price of their products above the value of private-labeled store brands. The CEO had a lot of changes to make to turn that company around and with change brings conflict. Williams (n.d.), illustrates an example of a conflict where Shaun Williams didn’t handle conflict appropriately, used physical forcing during a football game, which got his team penalized heavily, cost the team the game, and ended the team’s season. However, constructive conflict and trust are needed to openly and honestly have engaging relationships (Cashman, 2010).

Trust

Trust is multidimensional and is key to build all types of relationships between teammates, partners, and oneself. Trust is key to help build the best team, where teammates can have a constructive conflict on each other’s ideas to achieve innovation (Cashman, 2010; Kraemer, 2015). This is because all relationships are built on trust, and it takes just one inauthentic or untrustworthy action to ruin the relationship (Shankman, Allen, Haber-Curran, 2015). Once trustworthiness is lost, it takes time and hard work to regain it. Now, for being the best partner to someone that person must be truly committed to the other person’s success as well as their own while building trust along with mutual respect towards each other’s experience, and working towards long-term collaboration are key (Kraemer, 2015; Shankman et al., 2015). But, trust and belief in oneself are needed to get oneself from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset (Cashman, 2010; Sivers, 2014). Trust is key for a person to be authentic, vulnerable, and personal mastery (Cashman, 2010). Trust in oneself is the first thing that must occur prior to being able and open to trusting others. Trustworthiness attracts other people to believe in and follows their leader (Shankman et al., 2015).

Cashman (2010) and Shankman et al. (2015) state that engendering trust amongst people is by living authentically to oneself and trusting in oneself. To build up trust in oneself Shankman et al. (2015) suggested to: follow through on your commitments and being open and vulnerable to others by exposing your flaws in a positive way.

Important aspects of Emotional Intelligence

There are four aspects of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management (Bardberry, Greaves, & Lencioni, 2009; Help Guide, n.d.). It is important to recognize emotions felt and how it leads one to act, which is known as self-awareness (Bardberry, Greaves, & Lencioni, 2009; Goleman, n.d.; Help Guide, n.d.). Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (2002), analogized how emotions are formed by talking about emotions as if it were an arrow. The analogy goes that the facts are described as the feathers of the arrow and providing stability to the arrow. Note that some arrows may have many feathers and others don’t, but these feathers are tied to the shaft of the arrow, which helps build a story. This story that is built on the facts, guide us to the point of the arrow, which points in the direction towards the emotions that are felt. Everyone can have different facts to the same scenario, thus would form different stories. Thus different people would react differently emotionally to the same situation.

Therefore, it is important to understand and recognize what emotions are being felt and what are the stories that have led to this emotion (Goleman, n.d.; O’Niel, 1996; Patterson et al., 2002). Remembering to question the facts are a great way to diffuse certain emotional responses to make good life decisions, thus known as self-management (Bardberry et al., 2009; Help Guide, n.d.; O’Niel, 1996; Patterson et al., 2002). O’Niel’s 1996 interview also informed the readers that learning and emotions are strongly connected to the prefrontal cortex. Consequently, if strong emotions are felt and not dealt with, there is little bandwidth to focus on learning. Furthering the need to understand and being in control of one’s emotions. Plus, without self-awareness and self-management one cannot master social awareness and relationship management, because if one cannot understand themselves how that person can seek to understand others or be understood (Bardberry et al., 2009).

 Resources:

  • Bardberry, T., Greaves, J., & Lencioni, P. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego: Talent Smart.
  • Cashman, K. (2010) Leadership from the inside out Becoming a leader for life. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc.
  • Chapman, B. & Sisodia, R. (2015) Everybody matters: The extraordinary power of caring for your people like family. New York, Penguin.
  • Goleman, D. (n.d.). Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/
  • Help Guide (n.d.) Improving emotional intelligence (EQ): key skills for managing your emotions and improving your relationships. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/emotional-intelligence-eq.htm

 

Emotional Intelligence

It is important to recognize emotions felt and how it leads one to act, which is known as self-awareness (Bardberry, Greaves, & Lencioni, 2009; Goleman, n.d.; Help Guide, n.d.). Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (2002), analogized how emotions are formed by talking about emotions as if it were an arrow. The analogy goes that the facts are described as the feathers of the arrow and providing stability to the arrow. Note that some arrows may have many feathers and others don’t, but these feathers are tied to the shaft of the arrow, which helps build a story. This story that is built on the facts, guide us to the point of the arrow, which points in the direction towards the emotions that are felt. Everyone can have different facts to the same scenario, thus would form different stories. Thus different people would react differently emotionally to the same situation.

Therefore, it is important to understand and recognize what emotions are being felt and what are the stories that have led to this emotion (Goleman, n.d.; O’Niel, 1996; Patterson et al., 2002). Remembering to question the facts are a great way to diffuse certain emotional responses to make good life decisions, thus known as self-management (Bardberry et al., 2009; Help Guide, n.d.; O’Niel, 1996; Patterson et al., 2002). O’Niel’s 1996 interview also informed the readers that learning and emotions are strongly connected to the prefrontal cortex. Consequently, if strong emotions are felt and not dealt with, there is little bandwidth to focus on learning. Furthering the need to understand and being in control of one’s emotions.

I feel that I possess self-awareness and self-management of my emotions. I usually allow myself to have a 24-hour period to feel any negative emotion I want at that time. The goal is that after the 24-hours that I go seek out other facts to change my story or do other productive tasks. Plus, without self-awareness and self-management one cannot master social awareness and relationship management, because if one cannot understand themselves how that person can seek to understand others or be understood (Bardberry et al., 2009).

Social awareness by picking up nonverbal cues that other people usually send about the emotions they are experiencing (Help Guide, n.d.). Help Guide provides these following tips that one could possibly follow to improve this aspect of emotional intelligence:

  • Focusing on the interaction itself by being present in the moment
  • Being present in the conversation and employing active listening techniques
  • Focusing my attention towards the other person in the conversation

 

 

Bradberry et al. (2009) suggest these following tips that one could possibly follow to improve this aspect of emotional intelligence:

  • Greet people by their name
  • Pay attention to people’s body language
  • Develop a back pocket question for when there exists an awkward silence
  • Clear away the things that clutter your mind during a social interaction, like putting away mobile devices
  • Live in the moment
  • Movies imitate life, so observe successful social interactions between actors in a movie
  • Use active listening techniques
  • Watch people interacting in a social location, like a restaurant or a coffee shop
  • Seek out the whole picture from people, by asking probing questions
  • Step into other people’s shoes

 

Resources:

Engendaring Trust

Trust is multidimensional and is key to build all types of relationships between teammates, partners, and oneself. Trust is key to help build the best team, where teammates can have a constructive conflict on each other’s ideas to achieve innovation (Cashman, 2010; Kraemer, 2015). This is because all relationships are built on trust, and it takes just one inauthentic or untrustworthy action to ruin the relationship (Shankman, Allen, Haber-Curran, 2015). Once trustworthiness is lost, it takes time and hard work to regain it. Now, for being the best partner to someone that person must be truly committed to the other person’s success as well as their own while building trust along with mutual respect towards each other’s experience, and working towards long-term collaboration are key (Kraemer, 2015; Shankman et al., 2015). But, trust and belief in oneself are needed to get oneself from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset (Cashman, 2010; Sivers, 2014). Trust is key for a person to be authentic, vulnerable, and personal mastery (Cashman, 2010). Trust in oneself is the first thing that must occur prior to being able and open to trusting others. Trustworthiness attracts other people to believe in and follows their leader (Shankman et al., 2015).

Engender Trust

Cashman (2010) and Shankman et al. (2015) state that engendering trust amongst people is by living authentically to oneself and trusting in oneself. To build up trust in oneself Shankman et al. (2015) suggested to: follow through on your commitments and being open and vulnerable to others by exposing your flaws in a positive way.

I have been following through on my commitments:

  • Become an inventor: have one patent and one patent pending.
  • Get my doctorate degree: Graduated on June 10, 2017.
  • Building subject matter expertise: ITIL Expert Certification in 2016, Greenbelt six sigma in 2014, and Project Management Professional in 2014, etc.

I show my flaws in a positive way:

  • I have ADHD, but it allows me to make connections between two seemingly distinct ideas to push forward a new idea.
  • Thinking about ADHD has allowed me to think of other people with hidden or visible disabilities, therefore creating systems that have universal design principles.

Not being able to gain full trust on you

When I don’t live authentically when I don’t show people who I really am, and when I live with secrets and vulnerabilities. That is because if people don’t believe in themselves and what they are doing as leaders, then why would their followers (Shankman et al., 2015).

Circumstances on which you are more or less trustworthy

As an introverted person, when I meet a new person, I am not 100% authentic to myself. According to Matthew 7:6:

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast, ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them, under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Thus, being vulnerable and authentic to someone else is much easier when I develop a relationship and trust with them. Therefore, for me, it takes time for me to build a relationship of trust with others.

Resources

  • Cashman, K. (2010). Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc.
  • Kraemer, H. M. J. (2015). Becoming the best. (1st ed.). New Jersey, Wiley.
  • Shankman, M. L., Allen, S. J., Haber-Curran, P. (2015). Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students, (2nd ed.). [Bookshelf Online].
  • Sivers, D. (2014). Fixed mindsets vs growth mindset. Retrieved from https://sivers.org/mindset

Power and conflict

“‘Leadership is difficult.’ Inherent in any leadership challenge is stress. Stress comes from the environment, interpersonal conflict, the nature or amount of work, or simply the uncertain of what lies ahead.” (Shankman, Allen, & Haber Curran, 2015). Best teams can fall apart easily, due to conflict, if the conflict is not handled properly (Kraemer, 2015). Thus, when a conflict breaks, there are five strategies that people could use: forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising and collaborative; but usually, people tend to gravitate towards one or two of them (Williams, n.d.).

Kraemer (2015), illustrates the example of Campbell Soup, a company that recruited and grew in size with employees that were not aligned with the company’s values, and eventually, these people got promoted. These newly promoted ill-fitted employees were unequipped to create the best teams, and a few bad apples and negative influences almost destroyed the company, because of their concentration on short-term goals rather than long-term goals by increasing the price of their products above the value of private-labeled store brands. The CEO had a lot of changes to make to turn that company around and with change brings conflict. Williams (n.d.), illustrates an example of a conflict where Shaun Williams didn’t handle conflict appropriately, used physical forcing during a football game, which got his team penalized heavily, cost the team the game, and ended the team’s season. However, constructive conflict and trust are needed to openly and honestly have engaging relationships (Cashman, 2010).

So, I do not avoid conflict; I tend to embrace it by either compromising or being collaborative. I am more compromising if I am not so invested in the final result, but the other person or team is. I am more collaborative, learning about what the other person needs and wants are, building relationships, and forge a solution that is bigger (win-win) than if I were to use any of the other four strategies (win-lose or lose-lose). I had witnessed true collaboration, where my team built up a solution when there was a seed of a solution and combined other aspects of another solution that was brought in by another teammate.

I tend to be more compromising than I am collaborative, given my ADHD. I rarely get attached to a solution that would be worth it enough to keep the most conflict moving forward unless it is a constructive conflict. A constructive conflict helps build a better solution than prolong destructive conflict because constructive conflict focuses on engaging open and honest conflicts and building upon our relationships (Cashman, 2010). When I am seeking collaboration, I try to find a solution that stays true to both solutions or a solution that meets both of our goals, needs, and wants.

However, if a conflict quickly becomes destructive, I tend to separate myself from the situation, to allow my emotions first to subside and give both parties a chance to breathe and see the conflict with fresh eyes. At the point that there is a prolonged destructive conflict, I tend to re-evaluate if it is worth to keep up the conflict or to maintain the relationship (usually the relationship wins as long as it doesn’t violate my personal values). I have a tendency to avoid prolonged destructive conflict.

Resources:

  • Cashman, K. (2010) Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc.
  • Shankman, M. L., Allen, S. J., Haber-Curran, P. (2015-01-26). Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students, (2nd ed.).
  • Kraemer, H. M. J. (2015). Becoming the best. (1st ed.). New Jersey, Wiley.
  • Williams, S. (n.d.). Conflict management – Style and strategy. Retrieved from http://www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/LeaderLetter/conflict.htm

Ethical Leadership

No one wake up one day and say they will be unethical, however small acts can build up to unethical behavior (Prentice, 2007). This conclusion on ethics is similar to a slippery slope argument. Understandably, unethical people and unethical actions aren’t equivalent to evil people or evil actions (Prentice, 2007). As stated by Chapman and Sisodia (2015), “Ethics is people.” Ethics usually involves and revolves around people. However, good intentions are not enough to ensure ethical behavior (Prentice, 2007). Thus, Prentice outlined how unethical decisions could be made:

  • Obedience to authority: following orders blindly
  • Conformity bias: observing others in a group and conforming to consciously or unconsciously
  • Incrementalism: the slippery slope argument
  • Group think: pressures to not stand out from a group consensus
  • Over-optimism: irrational beliefs led by a strong tendency of optimistic beliefs
  • Overconfidence: irrational beliefs led by a strong tendency of confidence
  • Selfserving bias: gathering information that only strengthens one’s views or self-interest and discarding challenging viewpoints
  • Framing: how a problem or situation is framed can yield different results
  • Sunk costs: continual consideration and loyalty to a bad idea, just because a significant amount or resources have been poured into the idea
  • The tangible, the close and the near term: having something tangible that is near you and close by weights more than those that are separated by distance or time or in the abstract
  • Loss aversion: people prefer not to act for fear of losing something
  • Endowment effect: people getting attached to something

 

End decision: According to Prentice (2007) one way to not fall into the trap of an unethical decision is to check your personal biases at the door.

Resources:

  • Chapman, B. & Sisodia, R. (2015). Everybody matters: The extraordinary power of caring for your people like family. New York, Penguin.
  • Prentice, R. A. (2007). Ethical decision making: More needed than good intentions. Financial Analysis Journal, 63(6), 17–30.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A gift

In 2016, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD brains have abnormally low levels of dopamine activating the frontal cortex (Flippin, n.d.) According to the NIH (n.d.), this involves

  • inattention where I would find doing persistent tasks rather difficult
  • hyperactivity where I would find it rather difficult to stop and tend to wear people out
  • impulsive where I conduct content switching multiple time per hour

However, ADHD shouldn’t be seen as a lack of attention, but having a deregulation of the attention system (Flippin, n.d.). ADHD occurs across a spectrum and I have a high functioning form of it, such that as long as a task or job description is interesting enough for me, I will be a high performer, but at this side of the spectrum and my analytical mind, it also comes with the drawback of over analysis.

So, sharing this in this post isn’t easy, but the key part of why I mention it is because of the line “… as long as a task or job description is interesting enough from me, I will be a high performer…” This is an ability under ADHD called hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is the other side of the coin of ADHD, where the person with ADHD finds something really interesting that the person will intently focus on that one item without interruption (Flippin, n.d.).  Over the past year, I have been identifying job roles and statements of works where I can be at a state of hyperfocus. So, one method to encourage self-reflection with me is having a someone to ask me focused questions to engage my thoughts.

Due to hyperfocus, I have been using to do my dissertation, and this is why Colorado Technical University (CTU) was the best choice of school for me. Hyperfocus can be channeled into productive work like focusing on a dissertation where the topic is of utmost interest to me (Flippin, n.d.). This ability has allowed me to have completed my dissertation at a record pace because hours seemed like minutes to me when I am in this headspace. At other universities, you have to do research for your dissertation under a supervisor who has grant funding under a particular area, so you don’t control all the variables in picking your topic. This is where I thrived at CTU; I was able to pick anything of interest that fell under Computer Science and data analytics, which were my other passions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy like meditation and mindfulness were two other techniques my therapist has advised me to use to lessen the symptoms of ADHD, and the NIH (n.d.) agrees. It allows me to make incremental improvements in focus, but it also gives me the second method to encourage self-reflection. During meditation, I focus on breath control, let my thoughts come in, observe them pass by, and refocus on my breath. I have been doing this for 10 minutes every day since June 2015, with about an 80% consistency rate. With all new habits, if you don’t do it 100% of the time, just dust yourself off and say, ok, I missed 1-5 days, but I will start it up again.

Meditation, mindfulness, and therapist focused questions have been effective methods to encourage self-reflection for me in the present.

Resources: