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2017 President's Challenge - Learn, Lead and Thrive
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The President's Challenge will explore credible, relevant, and actionable concepts from the Leadership and Management disciplines to inform ideas and action for all chronic disease staff. We know that good leadership needs to be practiced at all levels of the organization. Below are a few of the questions we will answer over the next year, together. What am I doing about professional development? What can I do to maintain staff enthusiasm and prevent burnout? Do I really have a succession plan? How do I effectively "Manage Up"? How can I build more effective coalitions? How can I integrate deeper and more strategic thinking in our work?


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Representational Groups with Dr. David Berg

Posted By Tamika Smith, Thursday, June 1, 2017

David Berg is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and an Organizational Psychologist with the Yale School of Medicine. Years ago, I had the privilege of benefitting from David’s expertise as a student in one of his courses. I was struck by how deftly he led his students to important insights about organizations from seemingly mundane day-to-day details of organizational life. 


In this episode we have a stimulating conversation about representational groups; which is any group where the participants represent the perspectives of a particular group, agency, interest etc.  This characterization of groups applies widely from multidisciplinary teams within units, senior executive teams at large organizations to multi-sector coalitions.  I thought some of the insights were particularly illuminating with respect to our coordinated chronic disease work and coalition work in general. 


In this show, we also try an interesting experiment where in the second half, I present a couple of case examples (fictional and dramatized, but realistic I hope nonetheless).  David then offers his perspectives on the key relevant considerations as they pertain to representational groups and dynamics.  I thought it was fun, I hope you find that discussion format useful.


If you want to learn more, visit the resources link on the President's Challenge podcast webpage to access the link to David’s paper. 

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Job Crafting with Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski

Posted By Tamika Smith, Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management; she has a track record of rigorous, innovative and applicable research that is published in top academic journals and the popular business press.  In this episode we have a conversation about the concept of job crafting and how it is ties in to vital aspects about our personal relationship with our work including the meaning of work and work identity.

Although on first blush these concepts may sound weighty, Amy elegantly illuminates these concepts providing a case study about hospital custodial staff.   We also talk about how manager-centric models of job design, which are prevalent in public bureaucracies, can hold us back from getting the best work out of our employees.

In the second half of the show we get down to the practical.  Amy walks us through four strategies on how the job-crafting framework can help to assess and improve satisfaction and productivity in our own jobs:

1. Optimize the Job You Have

2. Re-Vision the Relational Landscape of the Work

3. Queue it Up

4. Aspirational Job-Crafting

Amy was also kind enough to share a tool that was specifically designed for employees to walk through the job crafting strategies.  View the resources link on the President's Challenge podcast webpage to access the tool along with further readings.  I encourage you to take a look and find an area that resonates with you. 

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Leading Through Change and Disruption with Professor Mark Lipton

Posted By Tamika Smith, Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Leading Through Change and Disruption with Mark Lipton


In this episode, Professor Mark Lipton of the New School joins us in a conversation about his soon-to-be published research on how leaders deal with change and disruption.  With the rise of disruptive technology and related platforms, the private sector has had to confront disruption in very immediate terms.  His work dives deep in to how leaders in these organizations are surviving and succeeding by facing ambiguity, handling continuous disruption and managing uncertainty.  We explore what looks to be emerging is a new model of handling and leading through change through five major leadership characteristics.


What does this have to do with public health?  Surprisingly, quite a bit. We cover areas that I suspect will resonate deeply within our community of public health practitioners, particularly in this moment national priorities and funding are in flux.  We cover the ideas of “micro-revolutions” and explore how innovation can co-exist side-by side with the imperatives of day-to-day business.  We talk about the importance of identifying boundaries of influence and considering carefully the “end-user experience.”  


Given Professor Lipton’s previous work in public health leadership development, he can translate this material to our benefit in ways that many in this field cannot.  I hope you learn something interesting, new and applicable from our conversation.  Thanks for listening to the Learn, Lead and Thrive podcast series!

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Administrative Evidence-Based Practices with Ross Brownson

Posted By Tamika Smith, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dr. Ross Brownson, previously served as the State Chronic Disease Director in Missouri and is currently the Bernard Becker Professor of Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis and Co-Director of the Prevention Research Center.  His work is characterized by applying scholarly rigor to areas with direct relevance to the practice of public health, particularly for chronic disease prevention and health promotion.   The topic we cover in this episode, administrative evidence-based practices or AEBPs, is a prime example of this approach.  


Although our conversation is grounded on rigorous peer-reviewed work (Brownson et. al. 2012 AJPM – see link), it struck me that the questions being addressed were both accessible and foundational for the practitioner:  What characteristics make health departments effective?  Where do I have influence to actually make a change?  What are some tools that can support the change?


We start off taking a high-level overview of AEBP’s, what they are, and how they relate to Evidence-Based Public Health and Evidence-Based Decision-Making. We learn about the different categories of AEBP’s and discuss the concept of “ high-priority, locally-modifiable AEBPs.”  


We then take a closer look into the five major categories of high priority modifiable AEBPs:

o   Workforce Development

o   Leadership

o   Organizational Climate and Culture

o   Relationships and Partnerships

o   Financial


In keeping with the theme of the challenge of “Learn, Lead, and Thrive” we take a deeper look into AEBPs related to Leadership and Organizational Climate and Culture.


We end the conversation with some practical tips and tools, specifically the “Administrative Evidence-Based Practices Assessment Tool”  which teams, including managers and front-line professionals, can use to assess the extent to which AEBPs are supported in their organization. (see link below)


We covered a lot of territory in this episode, but our time was short so I encourage you to pick one area that resonates with you, explore it further and find a way to integrate it in to your work.

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Public Health Leadership Challenges with Dr. Ursula Bauer

Posted By Tamika Smith, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Although this is the second episode in the series, this one is really the framing episode.  Our conversation highlights why focusing on leadership and management now is important.  This episode is less about specific tools and more about context-setting and forecasting.


We start out taking a longer view about public health leadership in the 21st Century.  We cover the concept of “vision” in an unexpected way. The public health community has a long tradition of articulating the vision of what type of world we are working towards. Ursula, however introduces us to a different way to think about vision, that is, the vision of “how we want to get there.”  This framing puts a decidedly operational bent on “vision” and helps us to surface some foundational issues around public health work in the face of uncertainty.


Uncertainty was a big theme in our conversation and we spent some time discussing the types of adaptive leadership skills that are needed going forward such as agility, flexibility, storytelling, and deeper partnership engagement.


In the second half we get in to the distinctions among the “4Cs:” Connection, Cooperation, Coordination, and Collaboration.  It struck me that this conceptualization around how we work together could apply within teams, among teams and with external partners. 


We end the episode talking about leadership lessons learned from our recent engagement with health systems and forecasting the leadership implications of upcoming opportunities such as CDC’s HI-5 initiative.

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Succession Planning with Dr. Jeanne Alongi

Posted By Tamika Smith, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
In this episode we have a wide-ranging conversation about Succession Planning. Did you know that 38% of the public health workers indicated they intend to leave their job in the next five years? Learn about this and other key findings from a broad, sweeping survey of the public health national workforce. Hear about some underexplored issues related to workforce diversity and competency needs. Discover a useful mental model for succession planning as Jeanne walks us through a succession planning road map.

And as promised, we dig into some day-to-day tools and techniques such as individualized development plans, stretch assignments, desk references and competency assessments. (Good practical advice!)

Workforce change and turnover is a reality, if we don’t think about succession planning systematically and intentionally apply our learnings our field risks stagnating.

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