A message from Ujima Donalson
Assistant Vice President,
Total Talent Management
In this issue of The Leading Edge, we are paying homage to Women’s History Month with
content that celebrates women leaders and honors women in the workplace. Women
leadership is strong at the UW, from the president to deans, vice presidents, unit
directors, administrators and team leads, and I’m proud to work at an institution that
has more gender equity than many private sector companies.
For a number of years now, I’ve been quietly asked by leaders from across the University
whether POD might consider offering a specific workshop or conference for women leaders.
While we haven’t done so explicitly, I believe that leadership is a competency that is
demonstrated differently, as expressed by the leader’s approach. Women in leadership may
encounter different challenges than their male counterparts and in some instances may be
required to flex or stretch more to “fit in” with the organizational culture or
hierarchy — or be willing to push back. We honor this in many of our leadership
development programs by teaching leaders to understand and honor their innate styles
while also equipping them with tools and strategies to flex their style and speak their
truths, as they so choose.
Evolve your leadership, grow your team
Alicia Koné, Owner and President, Koné Consulting, LLC
Many books have been written on management and leadership in government and the private
sector, some trendy and others which stand the test of time. One theme remains constant:
truly successful leaders must be invested in their people to stay competitive. If the
adage is true that people leave managers, not companies, then perhaps the reverse is
also true that people stay with managers, not companies — or, at the least, managers
have a significant impact on whether people stay or go.
Being an effective leader requires a willingness to grow and evolve along with your team.
Such leaders create safe, open workplaces where employees can showcase their strengths
and be upfront about challenges, develop their own potential and successfully do their
jobs. In growing the talent and capabilities of staff, we grow and sustain our
"Don't fret." Fostering inclusivity in language
Jamie Wilson, Communications Strategist, Professional & Organizational
Words matter. How we speak to one another and the language that we choose can show
regard, respect and inclusion, or a lack thereof. In practical terms, if we offend,
demean or marginalize the receiver — in conversation, in print, on the web or via email
— our communications will not be as successful.
Earlier this year, POD experienced a major problem with a vendor that we contract with,
and the account manager responded with “Don’t fret.”
Ujima Donalson and I were both on that email, and we were not fretting. We were trying to
run POD’s business of providing self-sustaining training, coaching and consulting to UW
employees and departments, and the vendor's error was putting one of our programs in
jeopardy. Yes, we were concerned and frustrated and looking for a quick resolution, but
to fret implies something else.
Learning Lab excerpt: Achieving gender balance in leadership
The Learning Lab online platform features a Leadership Development Program with
topic channels, including Women & Leadership. This content is excerpted from the
Developing Women Leaders course.
A 2017 study published by the Academy of Management had women and men make exactly the
same suggestions about how to drive change in an organization, but only the men were
perceived as “exhibiting leadership.”
In order to combat this type of unconscious bias, organizations need to educate all
employees about gender bias; cultivate a climate where gender prejudice can be discussed
openly, particularly among top management teams; and develop strategies for achieving a
better gender balance, not just at the executive level but in the types of roles that
lead to high-level positions.
Support Your Staff with the Spring Retreat on April 22
The Support Professionals Spring Retreat launched 16 years ago,
Administrative Professionals Day (formerly Secretary’s Day) and in the spirit of
celebrating the contributions and development of UW employees who often work quietly
behind the scenes.
In many of our units and colleges across the University, women predominate in support
roles and administrative positions, and we see this represented in our audience at the
retreat. In fact, last year at least two mother-daughter pairs attended the retreat, and
it was wonderful to see women from across generations enjoy this day of renewal and
In recent years, we’ve also seen increased participation from men at the retreat, and we
hope that continues. We plan the retreat with an eye towards inclusivity, with
presenters spanning a variety of ages, backgrounds and interests, as you can see from
this year’s event schedule.
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, this year’s theme is “Plant seeds,
inspire growth!” and the retreat will include a planting station that participants can
visit throughout the day. We hope you’ll consider recognizing one or more of your team
members with this day of discovery and development!