Leadership Now Pittsburgh – Part I

In December 2018, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc announced its second cohort of 21 participants for the Lead Now Pittsburgh fellowship program. Chosen from nearly 80 nominees recommended by other regional leaders, being selected in and of itself is quite an honor. At the same time, none of us really know what it will mean in 2019 as we embark on this journey together. Many of us are strangers, aware of each other without actually knowing each other. The training, in its second year, is still being defined. And the impact for those that came before us last year, is still unfolding.

LnP II started by breaking out our cohort into 3 groups to participate in a weeklong “Art of Leadership” training hosted by the Rockwood Leadership Institute. As a part of the 3rd group, my own journey only began on March 11th, when I traveled to San Jose, CA for our kick-off event. I packed my bags and coordinated my travel plans with the only real acquaintance I had – Diamonte Walker from the URA. This turns out to be one of the best decisions I could have made (but more on that later).

8 Pittsburghers, along with 7 other leaders from across the country, and 2 trainers arrived as strangers to learn, pitch, vent, share, support, practice, and plan for five days. This is not a training for the faint of heart – we go deep into the what, why, and how of our day-to-day practices. I personally found this experience to be oddly fulfilling. I say ‘oddly’ because I am generally a skeptic (I like to think ‘practical’ and ‘rational’, but most would probably agree with ‘skeptical’). One of the biggest differences in this training is the focus on self. Taking a look at ourselves deeply and reminding each of us why we do what we do, while having 14 others provide new and objective perspectives on the work. It reframed change as something we should do for ourselves, rather than something we do for others. That may seem simple, but as leaders of non-profit and public agencies, the giving of ourselves for others or a cause greater than ourselves is pretty much a part of the job description.

I bring back strategies and tools that will take me a while to fully understand and even longer to put into practice, but I look forward to doing so. But more than that, I brought back 14 new friends, peer coaches, subject matter experts I can call on and, as one person framed it – my own personal Board of Directors to help me be mindful of my own mental health and well-being. These are 14 individuals who now know a lot about me (probably more than they ever wanted to), but they also have experienced a lot of the same challenges I have faced and often mastered them in a way I hadn’t even thought of yet, and that makes them invaluable to my growth and development. I am lucky to have been placed with this particular group and even more to have had Diamonte as my roommate and keeper of my sanity. She is basically a rockstar – not just willing to have tough conversations, but able to do it in a way that provokes new understanding and ideas. With this group, I have never felt so challenged to new ways of thinking and perspectives, while at the same time entirely comfortable simply being me.

Next, we’ll come together not just with the remaining members of LnP II, but we’ll also have the opportunity to interact with last year’s cohort. I look forward to the rest of the year’s journey and now know that while we entered this as strangers, we will certainly leave it as friends. Thank you to the Heinz Endowments and Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. for your commitment to us. I look forward to continuing to serve the Pittsburgh region in any capacity I am able.


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