Dreams and Possibilities

Friday, November 4, 2016

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

—Margaret J. Wheatley

Recently, I made a career change to follow a personal dream. Kevin Eikenberry’s article, “Building a Real Leadership Pipeline” in the Fall 2016 issue of CTDO serendipitously came at just the right time to help me wake up to the possibility in front of me. 

First, let me share a little backstory. I have always worked in the private sector, primarily in the high-tech industry. Two months ago, I began a new journey to work for the City of Fort Collins as its chief human resources officer.   


As a citizen, I knew the city was an organization committed to high-quality public service and a nationally recognized leader in the use of leading-edge management practices. It was a long-held intention of mine to work directly for the city and be a part of initiatives that were making a difference in my community. My personal experience as an employee of the city government is that it is a data-driven, high-performance culture with a genuine regard for self and others. I am working with highly talented and committed people across our portfolio of services, and talent development matters greatly to leadership. 

Currently, I am helping the city think more deeply about building a leadership pipeline. I do not presume that anything I have done before in my private-sector work experience is entirely relevant to the task at hand. Yet, unless I pause and reflect, I might make assumptions and take actions that will not aid the city in finding what it seeks—or achieving what it needs. 

Kevin’s discussion on how mindset matters helped me think about my own mental models and how I might share the importance of mindset with colleagues. His list of perspectives to consider includes: 

  • Leadership is a set of actions and behaviors—and not a role or position.
  • Leadership is complex.
  • Everyone can lead.
  • There is no perfect way to lead.   

The article encourages readers to consider each of these factors and the impact they have on the choices organizations make regarding leadership development initiatives. He also highlights how to develop a top-down, bottom-up approach to navigate this polarity, as opposed to thinking that there is only one place to start. In other words, Kevin’s approach is holistic and systemic, which I find particularly valuable.   
As Kevin suggests, creating a thriving pipeline of leaders now and for the future is one of the greatest rewards for those of us working in talent development. The good news for me is that I do not have to convince leaders at the City of Fort Collins that developing and nurturing others is important. Indeed, I am grateful to be working with colleagues to develop leaders in a way that affects the daily lives of citizens. The dream continues and the possibilities are endless.

About the Author
Teresa Roche is a fellow at Harvard University’s Learning Innovations Laboratory and most recently was the vice president and chief learning officer at Agilent Technologies. At Agilent, Teresa was the co-chair for the Conference Board Council for Learning, Development and Organizational Performance. Previously, Teresa was a member of the executive board of the Best Practice Institute and also served on the dean’s advisory committee for the College of Education at Purdue University. Teresa has more than 20 years of experience as a human resources executive in a variety of high-technology companies. She has a deep passion for collaboration and learning and is interested in how individuals and organizations develop the capability to interpret an evolving and complex environment in order to take effective action.
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