Monday, December 9, 2013

Leadership Development: Striving for Spiritual Intellegence

Musicians provided music that added
 to the prayer and theme of each day
We began Sunday morning singing, "There is a longing in our hearts, O God, for you to reveal yourself to us, there is a longing in our hearts for love we only find in you, our God."  This longing for that deep knowing echoed throughout the day as we continued to identify those barriers to effective relating and leading.

Sr. Lynn Levo
There was time to renew old friendships
 and make new friends
Throughout the day there was
time for sharing at our tables.
It was obvious that as we were
getting to know one another better,
the depth of sharing was deepening
Sr. Lynn Levo led us through a day of input and reflection on Spiritually Intelligent Leadership, helping us recognize some of the habits that may be hindering our ability to work effectively  with others and manage our workload so that we do not burn out.  She offered 3 ways to think about flexibility and collaboration and concluding with a reminder that hope matters. Throughout the day you could see the nods as she shared on each topic indicating that she was speaking about issues with which many could identify.

Evening offered a great time to get
to know each other better in an
informal setting.

Sr. Lynn Levo (right) engaged
 in conversation during a break
One of the great joys of this program has been the ability to engage the presenters informally during meals and breaks.  All the presenters are very approachable and available.

And in the evening, the sisters enjoyed playing cards.
Hand and Foot remains the card game
 of choice for Federation gatherings

Sr. Dolores Clerico (left) chats with
 one of the participants

There were many light moments,
such as when during a break, two sisters
got up to entertain us

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Day of Challenge

On this second full day at the Leadership Development Program, Sr. Joan Sobala spoke with us about the positive implications of being steadfast.  Using the Isaiah 11:1-10 reading, she pointed out to us that this reading challenges us to do impossible things; wolves lying down with lambs for example. She reminded us that being steadfast is not easy, it requires work and desire.  We only learn to be
Sr. Joan Sobala
steadfast by practice and watching others who can inspire us.  In many situations the task is bigger than our lifetime and we won't live to see the outcome. She reminded us that John the Baptist had a big vision and he knew it was going to get him into trouble, but he stayed the course, even to his death.

Peggy McAlister
We spent the day working with Peggy McAlister who had been the coach for most of the sisters as we sorted through our Leadership Circle profile, the tool we used to assess our leadership strengths and areas for growth.  Peggy began by asking

We used a relational circle which
 helped us understand our test results better

us to recognize what isn't working anymore in hierarchical ways that leadership is often practiced.  She shared that there are 3 practices which are emerging as essential tools for an effective leader, 1) have a clear purpose, 2) be a compassionate presence, and 3) engage in partnerships- the day of the hero and the lone wolf are over.

Working in pairs, we jumped in to
facing  our worst  fears about
 ourselves  and our abilities
This exercise brought us closer together
 as a group committed to the mission
 of the program
We spent some time focusing on our purpose and then dealing with messages that we give ourselves that restrict our abilities to be effective.  She used a skill-based learning approach that through some slight exaggerations enabled us to actually experience the triggers in our bodies that warn us of the barriers we are erecting that inhibit effective connections with others.  While we were working with these exercises, there was a noticeable change in the energy and intensity in the room.  I can't even find words to explain it but it was obvious that people were experiencing major insights and break-throughs that were freeing them up. This became more obvious when we processed the experience together as a large group.
Sr. Mary Quinn is my mentor

The day ended with a meeting with our mentors
followed by more card playing and line dancing.  We are definitely connecting with each other at many levels, emotionally and socially.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Leadership Development Program for Sisters of St Joseph begins in Racine, Wisconsin

Sr. Herlinda provides a dance to accompany the prayer
Sr. Barbara Bozak, Program Director
Sr. Mary Dacey challenged the group
Twenty-eight sisters under 62 year of age gathered to begin a year of further honing and developing their leadership skills at the first Leaders as Leaven program sponsored by the US Federation for its sisters.  I am one of the 28 sisters so I will try to give a first-hand account of what is happening here.
An opening ritual and a symbolic use of scarfs as part of the ambience and the prayer set the stage for what looks to be a powerful five days together.  Sr. Barbara Bozak welcomed the group and set the tone on Thursday evening.  Sisters from Los Angeles and New York joined us late due to fogged in flights. 
In the opening prayer, the readings helped us reflect on leadership.  Sr. Mary Dacey, as part of the prayer, helped us to see the importance of leadership at this moment in history in religious life and the world.  She challenged us to use this opportunity to further develop our skills as leaders.
Sr. Dolores Clerico presented some
 old material with a new twist

On Friday, Sr. Dolores Clerico focused her talk on the core values of the Sisters of St Joseph by providing a brief overview of how evolving consciousness has impacted our view of leadership, where the church has evolved to at this time and then a new look at the core values of the Sisters of St Joseph.

Sr. Ginny Maitland
serves as facilitator
One of the highlights of this gathering is to meet sisters that I do not know and catch up with friends.  I had a very stimulating lunch discussion with Sr. Susan Wilcox and others at our table as we discussed the powerful energy connections that can heal the world.  Of course, it wouldn't be a US Federation event if we didn't play "Hand and Foot," a card game in the evening.  Last night six of us joined together.  Sr. Rosanne Oberleitner reminded us of the rules and Sr. Ginny Maitland served as coach for the three novice players.  Lots of fun and promises from others to join us tonight.

We have been joined at this event by 28 wisdom sisters who will serve as our mentor for this year period of growth in leadership.  I was extremely happy to have a meeting with my mentor, Sr. Mary Quinn.  As seems to be the sense among those of us participating, the matching of the sister with a mentor seems to have gone very well. 

Today we meet with two staff from the Leadership Circle who will continue the process of helping us learn how to use the Leadership Circle Profile, a tool that we and those we work with filled out.  It is compared with a vast database of the results of many thousands of leaders who have also taken this profile.  It provides helpful feedback on areas of strength and areas that could be further developed. 

I'll keep you posted on how the days go.

Sr. Donna Del Santo led us in song