September 2020

Four Challenges for Everyday Leaders

Imagine two people sitting across from each other. They are making eye contact and their hands are up, gliding slowly through the air. They appear to be mimicking each other. One of them – you can’t tell which – is leading the other. The facilitator tells them to switch leaders, and just like that, they seamlessly switch. Their movements change a bit, yet they are still moving together. 

The facilitator continues to tell them to switch, switch, switch, and switch again so rapidly that no one – not even the two participants – can tell who is leading and who is following anymore. They are moving as one – both leading and following each other.

Everyday Leadership

This improv mirroring exercise is a great illustration of how I define everyday leadership – whether it’s at the office, in the community, or at home. To me, everyday leadership is about being in relationship with the other people on your team (or in your family). Sometimes you are stepping up and engaging your skills in the moment as a leader, and sometimes you are stepping back and letting someone else’s skills and ideas shine. And sometimes you can be so in sync with your team, that the leadership becomes fluid.

Transformational Leadership and the “4 I’s”

While working on a podcast episode for “Practicing Connection in a Complex World,” I became acquainted with transformational leadership theory, particularly the “4 I’s” of Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individualized Consideration. While I am only just beginning to understand this theory, I started to think of each of the 4 I’s as challenges to motivate us toward leading in ways that are more human-centered.

Some of these challenges may come easier to you than others. But if you’re intentional about focusing on all of them, you’ll be well on your way to being in-sync with the everyday leaders on your team (hint: that’s everyone!). 

Challenge #1

Idealized Influence. What do you expect from others around you, in your team, or in your organization?

This element of transformational leadership challenges you to model the behavior you expect from others. Work and live with integrity, and it can build trust and inspire others to do the same.

Challenge #2

Inspirational Motivation. Do you have a vision for where you’re going in your work? Can you connect the work your team does to meaningful outcomes, the big picture you are hoping to make in the world? Finally, can you communicate your vision clearly and in a way that is meaningful to your team?

Inspirational Motivation challenges you to identify a vision and learn to communicate about it in a way that is compelling and meaningful to the team, not just to you (or the organization). Do this well and your team will be motivated in their responsibilities and optimistic about your shared future. 

Challenge #3

Intellectual Stimulation. Does your team culture support safe-fails, or does it work hard to create fail-safe situations? Are creativity and independent thinking encouraged AND supported?

This element of transformational leadership challenges us to lead with a growth mindset, while cultivating one within our team. Asking questions and challenging assumptions is encouraged, as is taking risks and finding new ways to accomplish goals.

Challenge #4

Individualized Consideration. Are you aware of the needs of each individual on your team? Do you tend to those needs, to the extent that you are able?

Individualized Consideration is sometimes said to be the most important of the 4 I’s. It challenges you to practice empathy and serve as a supportive mentor or coach. It also challenges you to really understand the strengths of each person and honor what they bring to the team. Doing this well is just great relationship practice – it is validating and encourages the development of intrinsic motivation in your team.

As I continue to shape my views around connection and leadership, I’m finding that transformational leadership is one framework I can learn a lot from.  

If you want to know more about transformational leadership and relationships, check out the Practicing Connection in a Complex World podcast (available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher), and our interview with Ellie Sheldon about Transformational Leadership.

September Webinars – RSVP today!

  • Disaster and Hazard Readiness 101
    The first session in this year’s Military Family Readiness Academy provides a bird’s-eye view of disasters and hazards. Dr. Lindsey begins with a high-level overview addressing terminology, phases of management, and types of disasters and hazards. She provides insights into significant research guiding disaster and hazard readiness and response, as well as the role and impact of media, and emergent conversations around the COVID-19 pandemic. She also discusses integrated disaster management and what this entails at state, federal, local, and individual levels. 
  • Communication Power Moves: Part II of Working with Difficult Clients
    When a situation becomes escalated, it is common for us to freeze, fight back, or retreat from the situation. However, while providing services to individuals, we need to use our environment and communication skills to find and maintain safety. In this webinar we explore different communication techniques to keep ourselves and clients calm through escalated situations.
  • Communication for Patients with Low Nutrition Literacy
    Nutrition education is a necessary measure for disease prevention and treatment, yet nearly half of Americans experience difficulty with understanding and communicating health information. Nutrition educators must be able to understand issues surrounding nutrition literacy and use effective communication techniques in order to reach goals of improving diet and related health outcomes. 
  • Modeling Healthy Technology Behaviors for Young Children
    Increased internet and technology access for children and adolescents brings concerns for how easily young people can be exposed to sexual content that is developmentally inappropriate, or even harmful or illegal, such as child sexual abuse material. This webinar will provide an overview for military family readiness professionals of the importance for parents and caregivers to model healthy boundaries with technology for healthy child social-emotional development. 
  • Let’s Work Together: Building Relationships with Families to Support Positive Behavior
    This webinar addresses ways practitioners can connect with and include families of young children with disabilities in identifying and implementing strategies to support positive behavior at school, childcare, and home. 
  • Sesame Street and You: Caring for Each Other During COVID-19 and Other Emergencies
    A health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, brings many changes and challenges for young children and families. But there are things we can do to face this new normal by staying healthy, keeping routines, and providing emotional support for one another while we continue to maintain a sense of optimism.

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Staying Positive: The Link Between Being Positive & Stress
In the literature, there appears to be a link between being positive and avoiding stress. Stress is our body’s physical and mental responses to life experiences whether they are real or imagined. It comes from both happy situations/events (weddings, birthday parties, celebrations, a new baby, etc.) and sad situations/events (illness, death, being frightened or threatened, job loss, worry, etc.).

Talking to Children about Racism
Dr. Katie Lingras, a child psychologist and University of Minnesota Medical School Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, shares a few common questions caregivers may have and recommends some strategies for addressing these complex topics with children.

Helping Military Families Cope with COVID-19
Six months into the pandemic, Personal Financial Management (PFM) staff are helping military families stay afloat financially and emotionally. Starting in August, the $600 per week of federal unemployment benefits will go away, causing a “cash cliff” for unemployed military spouses.

Improving Cognitive Function and Brain Health
The functions of the brain are abundant. Your brain is not only responsible for conscious thought (in other words, what you think) but also for regulating the function of numerous other organs in the body underneath the guise of your conscious perception.

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New Podcast Episodes!

MoneyTalk: Managing the Financial Impact of COVID
COVID-19 reached American soil months ago and, for many people, mental and physical fatigue is palpable. Sheltering in place has gotten very “old” and weeks with a reduced (or no) income has thrown the finances of millions of households into a tailspin. Studies show that prolonged “paycheck to paycheck” living can sap mental bandwidth and stress mental health to the point that people are simply not fully functioning.

What can people do? The only thing that they can do. Create some semblance of a routine and focus on things that they can control. In this podcast episode, Dr. O’Neill and I discuss ways that personal financial managers and other helping professionals can help military families navigate change, loss, and uncertainty in this turbulent time.


Collaboration (Ep.2)
In this episode, hosts Jessica Beckendorf and Bob Bertsch explore different perspectives on collaboration. Is there a mindset that leads to collaboration? How can we encourage collaborations that create something new? What makes for a good collaboration?