Expanding Leadership and Transitions

January 22nd, 2008

Happy 2008!

I'd like to welcome you to our first edition of The Rockwood Community NETwork.

As some of you may know, we are in an exciting time of transition. We are committed to bringing the best experience to our staff in service to you and I'm proud to announce that we are continuing to strengthen our team in 2008.

First, I'd like to welcome Amanda Berger to Rockwood as our new Program Director leading our Leadership Development programs. She brings a wealth of experience and a great heart -- we're quite lucky to have us with her. Also joining Rockwood is Paul Goldberg, a strong addition to our development team.

Our leadership development team also welcomes two new trainers in 2008: Maria Ramos Chertok and Suzanne Hawkes. They bring wonderful skills as trainers and facilitators, and will help broaden our diversity and reach. Both are wise, optimistic, and tremendously skilled. (And they both have terrific senses of humor!) Welcome, Maria and Suzanne.

Andre Carothers is settling into his new role as Founder and Senior Fellow. He will oversee work on our new website, have a strong role in communications, and will assist in developing new and special projects. It is such a pleasure to have him remain close. I honor and applaud his amazing work over the years, and I know that I stand in very big footsteps. Thank you Andre, for being such a strong and steadfast voice for social change and justice.

Finally, I am delighted to take on my new role as President/CEO. I have been gifted with an astonishing staff, board, training team, and alumni community. I look forward to building on the foundation we've collectively built over the past 7 years, and to adding my piece as we move forward.

Many of you have written to express your support and encouragement during this time of transition, and I sincerely appreciate it.

As we move through this winter season, I hope that you and your families are in good health and spirit. We look forward to further strengthening our connections with you, and as we develop our plans in the months ahead, we will keep you posted as to our progress.

Our purpose for this monthly e-letter is to let you know what is going on here at Rockwood, to connect our alumni and supporters, and to provide a forum for discussion of ideas that will enhance our collective capacity to lead. We will open each issue with a practices and resources to anchor a specific leadership insight to continue to develop your personal growth outside of the Art of Leadership.

We hope you will enjoy it.

From my heart to yours.

January 2008

Meet the Leadership Challenge: Get Results from the Difficult Conversation

At the Art of Leadership, many alumni have said that the work on difficult conversations has been the most valuable. Alumni have put the tools to use over the course of the actual four-day training, while others have navigated conversations upon their immediate return to their organization.

How can you make use of tools from the Art of Leadership in preparing for your next difficult conversation?

  • Assess the risks and rewards of having the conversation before you engage in it.
  • Consider and clarify your purpose. What would you like to get out of the conversation? What is your intention?
  • What are the challenges or assumptions you are making - that mark the interaction as "difficult"?
  • Examine your triggers. How can you be resourceful - preserve and build your personal power to manage your reactions and energy?
  • During the conversation, take full responsibility for a successful conversation: engage in deep and active listening, make sure your intent is positive and maintain an openness to learning.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Continue to engage in difficult conversations to strengthen your ability to move through them.

In addition to the articles in your Art of Leadership Manual under Tab IV Communication Skills, here's some other resources that may be useful in practicing the art of the difficult conversation.

Books and Articles:

  • Difficult Conversation: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Stone, Douglas, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. Penguin Books: New York, 1999. Synopsis. Find it.
  • Powerful Conversations: How High Impact Leaders Communicate. Harkins, Phil. McGraw-Hill: New York, 1999.
  • Fostering Dialogue Across Divides. Herzig, Maggie and Chasin, Laura. Public Conversations Project: Waterton, 2006.