Lehigh’s Foundations of Project Management provided a simulation that brought everything full circle and helped apply what we learned in the first half of the program. The class had a business slant, which allowed it to apply to multiple scenarios and industries.
As you progress in your career, there are more financial reports and records that you need to review. The Essentials of Finance helped me to understand what I’m seeing in terms of budgets, projections, and analyses. After two days, you can understand the implications of certain numbers and how you can better help your organization make financial decisions from a strategic perspective.
There were several hands-on exercises that had us look at financial reports and relate them to specific business decisions. Different industries were represented, and we were able to compare companies because they all use the same kind of financial reporting. Overall, the program has made me more confident. I know our business is going well, and that is supported by understanding what the numbers are telling us.
The highlight of the Connected Leadership program was that it didn’t just focus on your relationships with the people you manage. It also applied to interactions with colleagues, clients, and support staff. It helped me understand that there is no one right way to approach everyone over the course of a day. First you learn more about how you operate: using a personality assessment that we took before the program started. You see where your strengths are, and then you’re able to adapt them to meet the styles of other people. There are different approaches for representing yourself in meetings and everyday interactions; and they can all help you more effectively and authentically connect with people below and above you in the organization.
It’s not uncommon to have a conversation with a colleague or someone you manage, thinking everyone is on the same page. But when you check in later you realize they heard something completely different than what you intended. This program allows you to stake a step back and figure out why you didn’t connect. It helps you refocus your approach based on their strengths, so when you have that second conversation, you will be understood. Having a couple of days for introspection about your strengths was very valuable. You learn how you can tap into them to relate to and build trust among the people you work with. The biggest takeaway is that you must first understand yourself and how you operate in the world. Then, you learn how to authentically present yourself as opposed to putting up a front.
With programs like these, I think it’s important to get outside your company and your industry. There are plenty of continuing education opportunities but coming together with people who represent so many different sectors and organizations is so beneficial. You get to see how the other half operates in the business world. And it’s a two-way street: you see similarities across industries and realize you are not the only ones dealing with a certain issue, and you also see different strategies that would never work for your company. The Certificate Program expanded my network, and I am still connected with some of the participants. It’s great to have people you can trust to bounce ideas off and share information you think might be helpful.