Everyday Leaders are all around us. You don't have to be famous or wealthy to be a leader. It's a growing process that we all experience each and every day.
I'm humbled to be featured on the Everyday Leader series created by Dr. Ernest Jones, an expert in Organizational Change Management with over 24,000 followers on Linkedin. We talked about some of my past work, and my philosophies on success and leadership.
I'm always looking to connect with other like-minded people. Send me a private note introducing yourself on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/moniquecjohnson.
Dr. Monique Johnson is a diversity consultant, a career coach, and a transition expert. She is CEO of Dr. MCJ Consulting, LLC, an au thentic boutique consulting organization founded on the principles of change management. She has over 20 years of experience in collegiate teaching, consulting, career coaching and training. Her area of expertise is multi-dimensional, which enables her to deliver outstanding results.
Dr. Monique Johnson is an #EverydayLeader
I recently spoke with Monique on the phone. Following is a summary of our conversation. Dr. Jones spoke with Dr. Johnson in 2017. (She was involved with the project she speaks of through 2017.)
You have an interesting background in education. Tell us about your work.
I consult with a couple of different school districts in the Cincinnati metropolitan area on issues related to diversity. One program that I'm particularly proud of is called Champions for Change. This program is an innovative program and at a fairly large district consisting of about 17,000 students.
We use a train the trainer model where we work with teachers who are identified as change agents for their school buildings. The Champions lead and expose their staff in their building to professional development opportunities, information, and training. We train the Champions, most of whom are teachers from the 22 schools in the district, and they go back to their schools to implement their learning. The program is in its second year. It’s cutting edge.
What are some of the program’s successes?
During its first year, the Champions created their first signature program called the Parade of Graduates. Graduating students from the two high schools paraded through 11 elementary schools dressed in caps and gowns. Each graduate carried a sign indicating his/her plans for their future. Some of the signs said, “Ohio State University,” “Temple University,” “Going to the Military.” It was a phenomenal event.
The Parade of Graduates program was a win because the seniors got to go back to their own elementary schools. They were really moved when, for instance, their third-grade teacher remembered their name.
If I had experienced this as a third grader, it would have had a life-changing impact.
That was the whole idea… to paint the vision… paint a picture of the younger students so they could see their potential. A good number of the high school students who participated enrolled in college. It was a warm and meaningful experience.
Can you give some insights on managing a group with diverse leadership styles?
There is value in diversity. I think that's where the education and learning occur. Collaboration, communication, valuing creativity, and inclusivity are crucial. It helps people thrive.
I’ve worked with organizations and schools where morale was very low because employees did not feel valued and heard. They felt that leadership was not acknowledging their creativity nor interested in their input.
Why do you think that it can be so tough to be good leaders and good managers in today's environment?
Not everyone is trained or built to be a good leader. It is a learned skill and it comes more naturally to some than others. It could be tough because of organizational dynamics or personal issues such as fear, or selfishness. I also think it depends on your frame of reference.
“Being a leader does not mean you are equipped with everything that you need to know. Nor does being a leader mean you execute everything perfectly. It's a growing process.” Dr. Monique Johnson
I believe that leadership is service. If you see yourself as serving and helping other people, then you're not really concerned about validation. Your role as a leader is to ensure you and your team make an impact. If this is your primary motive, you will make a big difference. If not, then morale and productivity will suffer.
What metrics do you use to give you the clearest story of your success as your work as a diversity consultant, as a counseling professional, or in your other work?
When you receive feedback from others or you see progress and positive results from those you’ve helped. A young lady who is now a successful entrepreneur mentioned something positive about me, and I said, "Really? I was just doing what I normally do, just being supportive." For me, it's hearing, not expecting anything in return, but when people do share how you had an impact on them, that, to me, is just as meaningful. Post evaluations that measure effectiveness are always effective as well.
What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities facing today’s leaders?
I really love the saying... I'm not exactly sure who said it, but, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I think that goes in any environment. Whether you're in a school environment or whether you're in a corporation, whether you're in an organization, whatever type of organization you're in. We must not lose sight of people.
We have productivity standards that we have to maintain. And results are important. But we should focus on people over things. When people are valued and they have a positive, thriving environment, the results will come.
Final Words of Wisdom for #EverydayLeaders
I came across this quote by Dolly Parton that I just love. It sums up how I feel and what I think about leadership. It says, "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”
Being a leader does not mean you are equipped with everything that you need to know. Nor does being a leader mean you execute everything perfectly. It's a growing process.
About this Series
Dr. Jones is on a quest to profile 100 #EverydayLeaders doing extraordinary things. If you are an everyday leader and you’d like to chat, reach out to Dr. Ernest Jones on Linkedin. Join The Leadership Growth Network a community for new, emerging and experienced leaders.