2020 CUES Emerge winner reflects on the impact of completing CUES Advanced Management Program from Cornell.
CUES member Lindsey Walker, PMP, CCM, CEM, is no stranger to leadership learning. In 2020, she participated in the CUES Emerge program, benefitting from both the educational and competition components. Ultimately, she was named the 2020 CUES Emerging Leader and received a package of educational prizes.
Fast-forward to this year, and the project manager for $400 million Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union has just completed the nine-month CUES Advanced Management Program from Cornell University. We caught up with Walker and asked her some questions about what she learned from this latest leadership learning endeavor and how it has impacted her growth as a leader.
What Did You Hope to Learn From the Course?
As the saying goes, learning is a never-ending process. The labor force continues to rapidly change, and people need lifelong learning to advance their skills and stay relevant. I was excited about the opportunity to gain a new perspective and further my understanding of the executive leadership roles. Much of my career has been surrounded by the C-suite, so having this opportunity to understand the effort and what goes into some of their roles was invaluable and will help me continue to support them and grow myself.
What Was Your Key Takeaway?
I believe the biggest overall theme of the Advanced Management Program is that, as a leader, one will need to lead with vision and continue to reiterate the vision for the organization. As you progress through change, the original plans may need to change as progress occurs. When it does shift, be open and honest, sharing with the leaders and team how the vision has evolved. Listen to the needs of others. When you understand their doubts, work to answer their questions. It is your job to communicate and to communicate regularly.
How Was Your Thinking Challenged?
Throughout the course, I was challenged to look at the overall big picture versus focusing on one area. In my current career stage, I enact the strategic plan that someone else has already formulated. Attending the course was an excellent opportunity to dive into each of the different roles the C-suite leads and understand the intricate parts and thought processes each has.
What Was Your Favorite Aspect of the Program?
My favorite course within the program was “Chief Executive Officer-Developing and Communicating Vision and Strategy.” We were challenged with assessing our operating environment and given the opportunity to reflect on the new insights gained on the four dimensions of our operating environment: internal, external, competitive, and relationship in relation to a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment. VUCA demands that you avoid traditional, outdated approaches to management and leadership and day-to-day working. In this course, we outlined a clear vision statement and compared our credit union’s approach. From there, we were challenged to articulate our own business strategy using the method of “what, how and means” provided by our professor, General George W. Casey Jr. General Casey says that to succeed, your vision and strategy must be aligned, and he was certainly right. As we developed our vision statements and business strategy, we discussed the importance of how to communicate this and the levels downward one must be engaged in for effectiveness, as well as how often. This course was extensive and rewarding.
What Did You Learn That You Can Apply Right Away?
In an environment that is constantly changing, leaders must continuously develop and challenge themselves for their credit union/team to evolve and grow. A leader must demonstrate humility, elasticity and change. Everyone can lead! I’ll keep this in mind as I embark on my new role as project manager for our organization.
What Would You Say to Your Current Leaders About This Experience?
A Harvard Business Review article we read, What it Takes to Lead Through an Era of Exponential Change, says, “Learning must be inspired by leadership, reinforced by culture, occur across a variety of domains, coordinated through the whole and shared openly and actionably to create the broader picture.” I am thankful for the opportunity to attend the eCornell Advanced Management Program and that my organization supported this endeavor. Overall, I feel I have filled in skill gaps, broadened my perspectives, increased my network of peers in the industry and walked away improving my performance.
What Advice Would You Give to Other Leaders Considering Doing Leadership Learning?
There are only two main ways to force new a perspective: experience and coursework; once you have gotten comfortable with a perspective, it is important to continuously challenge your way of thinking and evolve. This evolution of thinking and openness to change is what moves organizations forward.