Derek Dunham

Now that he’s three-quarters of the way through the LeadingAge PA Fellows in Leadership Program, CFO Brian Mailliard shared insights into his leadership journey.

Thank you for spending some time with us at the conclusion of your third session of Fellows in Leadership.
“The third session!” It’s kind of strange to even say that out loud, because the time is just flying by. This month, we visited Cumberland Woods Village. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center owns and operates this independent living community. One standout feature is the 250-seat theater. The community puts on shows, plays and other events in this beautiful venue.

What was the theme of Session 3?
Session 3 focused on two topics that just about all of us deal with on a daily basis. The first topic was Cultural Competency. Marsha Wesley Coleman, Director of Learning and Development at Friends Services Alliance, led that seminar. The second was Team Member Engagement, led by Gary Johnson, a consultant at Monarch Risk Management.

What insights did you take away from Session 3?
Well, the session featured many great takeaways. Here are a few that stood out:

1. Be aware of biases. The Cultural Competency workshop really got me thinking about biases and assumptions. Because these biases are engrained in all of us from a young age, we need to be cognizant of them when we are back in our organizations. Marsha Wesley Coleman showed us an eye-opening TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, entitled  “The Dangers of a Single Story.” This inspiring talk highlights the hazards of looking at a people or culture from a limited pointed of view. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should watch it.

2. Create an environment that engages team members. Studies show that 70% of  team members feel disengaged at work. That’s why Gary’s session focused on three things we can do to create more engaging workplace environments. First of all, take a collaborative approach to problem solving. Secondly, create equality between managers and employees. Lastly, personalize the work experience through individual recognition.

3. Don’t try to change employees. Something that really stuck with me? The principle Gary taught of not trying to change peoples’ behavior. Rather, he encouraged us to change their situation instead. That change will then influence their behavior.

4. Notice your own actions. The program is teaching me to always be aware of how my actions, assumptions and attitudes influence those around me.

5. Always keep working on engagement. You can never stop working on team member engagement. If you’re not working on it all the time, you’re falling behind.

Anything else you’d like to share about your leadership journey?
One last thing I’d like to add: the class has really come together as a group. Because people feel close, they do not hesitate to share even on tough subjects. And the coaches and trainers really foster that closeness. I’m feeling very inspired by the other fellows.  In fact, McKnights’ Senior Living recognized one of my fellow participants, Jennifer Cisneros, as a Woman of Distinction for 2019. Read an interview with Jennifer here.