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Rick Aberman.

Rick Aberman and colleague Judy Skoglund (below right) led the workshop, "Managing Yourself and Leading Others," at UMD.

Emotional competence and breakthrough leadership

UMD's Transformational Leadership Program integrates a key component

By Stephanie Vine

Brief, Dec. 19, 2007

Cognitive and analytical skills are only part of the overall "breakthrough leadership" equation, according to Rick Aberman. To successfully manage others, a leader must be able to successfully manage him- or herself in a holistic manner. A key component is emotional intelligence.

Aberman and associate Judy Skoglund from the Lennick Aberman Group, a national leader in moral and emotional competence education and training, led a one-and-a-half-day workshop Dec. 11-12 for current and former participants of the UMD Transformational Leadership Program (TLP).

The workshop, "Managing Yourself and Leading Others," challenged current and future University leaders to examine their emotional competence, individually and as managers of project teams or units. To successfully lead a team, program, department, or collegiate unit, Aberman said, a leader must learn to draw upon all of his or her intelligences...cognitive, moral, and emotional.

When leaders align their thoughts and actions with their emotions and moral values, all parties benefit by attaining higher performance, whether in the organization itself, its employees, or the people it serves on a daily basis.

Emotional intelligence requires that one achieve a sense of self-awareness. That, in turn, results in enhanced self-management. When leaders are able to self-manage, they are better able to understand their own personal strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the teams or units they lead. By identifying and addressing personal limitations, leaders prepare to address organizational shortcomings and make the necessary changes to move forward and achieve organizational goals.

Asking the core question of why

In 2006-07, the University of Minnesota, Duluth--through the work of the Student Success Work Team--developed the Strategy Map for Improving UMD Retention and Graduation Rates. As part of its findings, the group concluded that, for UMD to effectively address issues that negatively impact student retention and timely graduation rates, departments must continually evaluate the services they provide from both process- and value-based perspectives.

Judy Skoglund
Judy Skoglund

Leaders must continue to ask themselves, "Do our daily actions reflect our departmental and institutional values?" and "Are our values and actions aligned with the goals and values of those we serve?"

If the answer to either question is no, leaders and units must examine the moral and emotional competencies of themselves and their units.

While TLP examines units' daily processes, moral and emotional competency reviews address the core question of why we do what we do. When leaders develop their emotional intelligence, Aberman asserts, they have the capacity to create alignment between their organizations' goals, actions, and values.

Stacy Crawford, assistant academic adviser for the School of Fine Arts, described the workshop as extremely pertinent for student advisers. Emotional intelligence complements the TLP training by bringing a new perspective to leadership development, she said.

"I now better understand how I can help students align their real selves--that is, their actions and behaviors--with their ideal selves, or their values and goals," said Crawford. She also spoke from a personal perspective: "As a leader, I know improvements can always be made. Often times, self-awareness is overlooked in organizational leadership, and if we don't take the time to build self-awareness, we are not functioning to the best of our abilities."

The associate director of the Advisement Coordination Center, Vince Repesh, agreed.

"Emotional intelligence principles can be applied to any organization, whether it is business, education, or sports," said Repesh. "The content was outstanding and should be discussed at all levels of the institution."

To supplement the workshop curriculum, Lennick Aberman will help each participant create an emotional competency development plan. Personal coaching will be provided through June.

Continuous improvement

The U of M Office of Service and Continuous Improvement (OSCI), sponsor of the UMD Transformational Leadership Program, provided the financial resources to make the workshop possible.

"By including emotional intelligence as part of the overall University leadership development program," said OSCI director Scott Martens, "leaders--both current and future--will be better prepared to manage change and realize transformation and the goals of the University's strategic positioning process."


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Stephanie Vine is an associate administrator for Health Services and the coordinator of the UMD Transformational Leadership Program.