Jon Stemmle teaches reporting at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri, and is a senior information specialist with Campus Facilities Communi- cations. He can be reached at email@example.com. Paul Jeffrey, who contributed to this article, is the editor for campus facilities; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos were taken by Jon Stemmle.
"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision."
--Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, world-renowned educator and humanitarian.
Traditionally, effective leadership has been the downward exercise of power and authority. In both the organization's tasks and in its human dimensions, business depended on a transactional quid pro quo relationship between leaders and followers. Such leaders were seen as offering jobs, security, favorable ratings, and more, in exchange for a follower's support, cooperation, and compliance (Owens, p. 121).
This old model of leadership, however, is on the outs. Today's understanding and practice of leadership is going through great upheaval. Into the new millennium, organizational leadership continues clearly toward a transforming leadership style, defined generally as "developing respect and concern for followers the ability to see them as powerful sources of knowledge, creativity, and energy for improving the organization" and thereby the quality of life for all (Owens, p. 125).
Transforming leaders are concerned with followers' motives, their higher needs, and, unlike before, now seek to engage the whole person. Today's leaders are participating with followers in relationships of "mutual stimulation" and "elevation" that convert followers into leaders who, with intelligence and creative management, are becoming do-the-right- thing moral agents for their organization.
Evoked, then, in the 1990s and developing yet today, has been the concept of transformational, moral leadership, a genuine sharing of mutual human needs, aspirations and values in organizational work that emerges from, and always returns to, fundamental wants and needs, aspirations, and values of followers. There is a shared human mission, a sense of mutual purpose; a covenant of shared values are interwoven with the daily life and practices of ordinary people on the job (Owens, pp 125-127).
It's the way that Alan Warden, assistant vice chancellor of facilities at the University of Missouri Columbia, leads Campus Facilities, the largest administrative division in the four-campus University of Missouri System. The leader of some 650 personnel in energy management, construction, maintenance, custodial, landscape and administrative services, Warden began two years ago to implement a five-year, management-employee, partnership-training program. His plan provides comprehensive training that includes coursework for job and core classification requirements, safety training and, importantly, elective courses consisting of technical and personal development and growth subjects.
Prior to implementing a training plan, Warden participated in a five-day, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" workshop based on Stephen Covey's best-selling motivational book of the same name. The workshop was presented by the Franklin Covey organization through APPA as part of its Institute for Facilities Management and which is now part of APPA's Leadership Academy.
Warden viewed the workshop as tailor-made for his training program. Billed as providing a "foundation for lasting change and effectiveness at the personal, interpersonal, managerial, and organizational levels," it offered exciting transforming common sense concepts that would not only help his CF followers to be more communicative and effective on the job but, as workshop presenters claimed, would also "reinforce and promote life balance, direction and inner peace" in other aspects of their lives.
Warden came away from the experience the way most participants do: With the idea that the Covey workshop consists of a tour de force of workable common sense philosophy and practice, but organized, presented, and focused in such a way that enables participants to distinguish between what is truly meaningful, efficient, and productive and what is not. Workshop participants are left with the means to conceptualize and better facilitate a clearer understanding of self, the place of oneself in the world and working together with others in that place, which on Warden's immediate agenda were the workplace, and the university community served by Campus Facilities.
"The Covey concept is something very useful and important for interpersonal communications and relationships and working as a team," Warden said. "It's not an industry-specific type of training. It's nothing we are or should be experts in, but it is a very good personal growth tool."
Covey Comes to Columbia
Due to dollar limitations, the expense of Covey leadership training is prohibitive for most public, not-for-profit organizations. Its market has been mostly high-powered corporate executives. That changed, however, for Campus Facilities when APPA arranged to use its own trainers to teach the Covey training in a university setting.
From a list of Covey-trained APPA instructors, Associate CF Director LeRoy Bealmear, Kate Walker, Campus Facilities' coordinator of training and development, and Don Guckert, who leads CF's Planning, Design and Construction department, selected Lander Medlin, APPA's executive vice president, and Charles Jenkins, a former APPA president and now a facilitator there, to train 70 CF managers. Workshops were scheduled for mid-May and late June 1999 on the MU campus in Columbia.
Medlin, a former facilities administrator at the University of Maryland and Jenkins, a retired physical plant director at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, were ideally suited to train facilities workers. Both knew of Warden and his leadership from APPA conventions, and of Guckert from his Planning, Design & Construction deanship and faculty position with APPA's Institute for Facilities Management.
Both Medlin and Jenkins, as others before them, in 1997 went through intensive training in San Francisco to become Covey presenters. And although following this exposure both presented Covey workshops in APPA's IFM setting, the workshops at Campus Facilities at MU, Columbia would be the first-ever taught on location and tailored for a facilities management organization.
Guckert helped to secure Medlin as a workshop presenter with Jenkins, while Bealmear and Walker took on the task of assisting them in molding the class from a physical plant perspective, while retaining the diversity needed to capture fully the personal and interpersonal principles and qualities of Covey training.
"Knowing that both Charlie and Lander were former facilities administrators helped greatly," Bealmear said. "Our goal with the Covey 7 Habits Workshop' was to have it presented from the viewpoint of facilities management operations. We wanted it presented the best way possible so we could use it in our operations: by someone with whom we could identify presenting ideas and concepts we could recognize." Bringing Covey principles to focus on particular operation was not without concern.
"By tailoring and specializing workshops you lose a diversity of views," Jenkins said. "It helps to have a diversity of thinking that a generalized workshop affords and generates. That said, the training was based on helping managers to be more productive, innovative and efficient and it did just that." And Bealmear agrees.
"They succeeded," Bealmear added. "But you don't, of course, attend such a presentation and just leave transformed. What was presented is still ongoing. Covey's ... habits'... are principles we wanted to communicate, principles that not only help one work more effectively but that can also be applied to one's whole life."
Qualities that APPA facilitators seek to instill in facilities managers are integral to and parallel the Covey program: The development of a personal mission in life, applicable to both job and life; the practice of win-win' communications; championing team diversity; establishing workplace and life-style priorities; functioning synergistically on and off the job; and implementing a plan of personal renewal.
Core to these principles are individual differences diversity and empathic listening, "really listening to the points of view of others," said Walker.
"I really think that the main challenge of organizational leadership is to seek out and use all ideas in a synergistic manner for the good of all. When you listen to each person's point of view good stuff emerges everytime to become part of an efficient, productive, I'm-glad-I-work-here' organization.
Jenkins and Medlin explained that most management today is inefficient, ineffective and unproductive. Jenkins believes that, thus far, the true intellectual and emotional potential of managers to do fully the right thing remains untapped. And organizing and focusing these dormant potentialities to efficiently, "morally' lead an organization, he said, is where Covey training comes in.
Arriving at a workplace win-win philosophy is a major point in APPA's Leadership Training. In such thinking, effective, long-term relationships require compromise and mutual benefits. Although most people are raised with the idea that winning is all important, the win-win ideal holds that outcomes should be sought that are positive for both parties involved.
"Effective management and leadership means less tension in the workplace," Jenkins told MU's "7 Habits Workshop" participants. "We need more trust and confidence in our personnel. When we reach this point it creates a more loose and free and open organization. It creates a win-win' environment where you build up and don't tear down."
This idea of a non-adversial workplace is beneficial to all and something Warden would like to see throughout Campus Facilities.
"The win-win philosophy explains how to deal with relationships in a non-adversarial way, which is how we attempt to do things," said Warden. "Much of the Covey training pertains to common sense, golden-rule, religiously based morality kinds of concepts things that we just may not intuitively come to or are unable to organize intuitively ourselves."
Relationships are the Foundation
In the workshops at MU, the most important ideas coming out of the sessions concerned relationship building. Jenkins, who went into depth on this topic in the May/June 1999 Facilities Manager article "The Value of Relationships," believes relationships are the foundations of a strong workplace.
"Participants in our training are expected to live, model, and mentor their employees in the ideas from the course," Jenkins said. "We want managers to encourage others to follow their example in relationships and to take the next step. There are a lot of depleted emotional bank accounts' every place you go, some may even be overdrawn. By fixing these problems, managers can begin to manage efficiently and reach the true intellectual potential of management in higher education."
Along with the workshop's 7 Habits,' each participant receives a personal profile or ranking on various personal and work dimensions prepared from pre-training evaluations by one's peers and co-workers, one's boss and oneself.
Guckert has taken the information garnered from the Covey training, including the profile, and employs it with Planning, Design and Construction's 130-plus personnel. One day each month for two hours 26 PD&C managers who attended the two workshops meet to discuss an aspect of the Covey principles and their personal profiles as they apply to their work environment. Guckert also assigns one of the chapters of the "7 Habits" book that corresponds with that part of the personal profile the group will be covering. Members of the group then are expected to reflect on how the reading applies to their own profiles and how to implement what they have learned to workplace scenarios.
"The personal profile was the most useful part of the experience," said Guckert. "Charlie referred to the profile as a gift from our peers. He told us to use it as a tool for reaching our personal mission statement objectives."
"Charlie and Lander also recommended keeping workshop terms in front of us," Guckert added, "such as win-win' and emotional bank account,' concepts important to grasping the essentials of the training. The lessons learned in Covey apply to relationships, both personal and business. When we get together monthly, we talk more about the business applications because people are generally more comfortable with that than talking about their personal lives, although sometimes we do talk about that aspect."
Guckert says that the principles taught in the workshop have always been critical to the work of PD&C personnel.
"Speaking for Planning, Design & Construction, we depend on forging quality relationships with people with whom we work, whether they're clients, stakeholders, contractors, architects, or co-workers. We are a lot like other departments of Campus Facilities in that regard. We recognized the importance of relationship building when we were working on our strategic plan. The information from the workshop will help us reach those goals."
With the success of the first two rounds of Covey training, Campus Facilities embarked in October and November 1999 on five one-day Covey training classes for an additional 105 middle-management and support staff.
Although the training classes don't connect with everyone, most people at Campus Facilities can see the good in the principles and message.
"Some people are more willing to learn than others and some let it soak in over time," said Warden. "Now that we've had time to digest the information, over the next year and beyond, we will try to use these concepts in our meetings. We will use some of the lingo. I don't expect it to be revolutionary, but I think it was a useful exercise that, coupled with our overall training effort, will improve our ability as a unit to work as a team."
Reference: Owens, R. G. Organizational Behavior in Education (5th Edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.