One of this year's mentees, Megan Wood, writes about her path in a new organization. We've already had some great conversations as she explores new ways of working in a new organization. I look forward to following her path through this coming year.
In February I took on a new position with an organization that is the middle of growth and exciting change. My new job is on the leadership team as the Associate Vice President for Education & Visitor Experience at the Historic Ford Estates, which includes the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House and the newly acquired Henry Ford Estate. I am only the second person to have a job with “education” in its title at this institution, so there is a lot of opportunity to grow and expand current offerings. I have also been fortunate to be able to hire new staff and build a team focused on daily and special learning experiences.
It is both exciting and intimidating to start off anew with a team. Exciting because of the chance to go my own way and intimidating because there is only one chance to have a fresh start. I want to create an environment where people feel comfortable experimenting and unafraid of failure. I also want to create an environment of collegiality and teamwork.
I decided to take a few crucial steps:
- Start off with a team meeting and look at personal preference styles.
On the advice of my mentor, Linda, we used an online tool to examine our dispositions towards Gardner’s learning modalities. We talked a little bit about what we look like as a team. It was interesting to see how individual personal interests manifest in learning style, and to keep it in mind as we move forward in planning and development of programs and experiences.
- Use an ideas board to document and share creativity.
One of the Try-It’s from the book, Creativity in Museum Practice talks about an idea board that anyone can post to and capture ideas, images, or text that reflects the creativity we want to capture in our own work. Instead of creating a work Pinterest board, we decided that the physical reminder of our ideas in a shared workspace could help inspire and ignite us as we work together and individually.
- Lay out my evolving philosophy on teamwork and leadership.
As currently structured, everyone on the team will be a team member or a leader in turn, depending on the project. As the boss, I decided to make it clear what my philosophy is, so I sent around a one-page document that includes values like listening, care and service, respectful discourse, simplicity and clarity, and joy and lifelong learning. I want to make sure that whoever we work within the organization, that my group is respected for their ability to lead and to be lead.
So far I am happy with the work and ideas that have been coming from my new team and can see some areas where I can improve as a leader. We continue to meet as a team every other week, and then I meet with each person individually on the off weeks. I hope in a few months’ time I will feel we have success in cultivating a creative and open environment, and I hope to share what I’ve learned through this experience. Stay tuned…