Blog (filtered)

Being a leader takes practice. We’re excited to share our latest experiments and lessons learned.

Larisa Hinton
Friday, December 22, 2017

Building relationships with others is extremely important if you want to focus on being a better leader. You need to understand what makes others tick and how to communicate and influence them effectively. In the CLE, we spend a lot of time talking about different behavior styles in the workplace and the importance of self-awareness and connecting with others.

I read a fascinating article in the Harvard Business Review that discusses cultural differences in leadership styles across the world. In the United States, we tend to view ourselves as democratic but can come across as authoritarian to other societies. The author maps leadership cultures into four quadrants by distinguishing attitudes toward authority and attitudes toward decision making. The four quadrants are: Consensual and Egalitarian, Consensual and Hierarchical, Top-down and Hierarchical, and Top-down and Egalitarian. She plots 19 countries on the graph. We fall into Top-Down and Egalitarian (along with the UK, Canada, and Australia.)

The article is geared towards global business but has great take-aways to apply to our ever increasing diverse workforce. The more we know ourselves and understand our colleagues, the better equipped we are to build rapport and become better leaders.

Read the article for some great insights – my holiday present to you all! 

Larisa Hinton
Friday, September 15, 2017

Did you just get promoted to a manager role?

Being promoted is an exciting transition, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. This is especially true if you are now managing people who used to be your peers. You need to establish your credibility and authority without acting like the promotion has gone to your head. You’ll also need to handle the changing dynamics of relationships with your former peers, and build relationships with your new group of peers – other managers in your organization.

Know that you’re not alone. Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, says that if you take a typical group of mid-level executives and ask if they’ve ever been promoted to lead their peers, 90% of them will say yes. But just because you are one of many, doesn’t make it an easy process.

You can expect a variety of reactions from the positive to the negative. You’ll have colleagues who are excited to see you advance because you understand their job and can increase the team’s visibility. You’ll want to build on these positive reactions by listening more than you talk, taking action to show you care, and focusing on solutions not problems.

Unfortunately you’ll also experience negative reactions rooted in unfair expectations, doubt, and jealousy/resentment. These are a natural part of the process and the more we’re aware of them, the better we can prepare. Being proactive turns negatives into positives and facilitates team building.  

Come join the CLE for our class called Making the Leap from Peer to Manager on October 13.  We’ll delve into this topic and identify actions you can take to position yourself for success in your new role as a manager.

Larisa Hinton
Friday, June 16, 2017

We often think we’re delegating when we ask someone to do something for us. But delegation is more than simply assigning tasks. Real delegation is asking someone else to be accountable for results. You’re giving the responsibility, along with the authority, to do what’s needed to take action and get the job done.

There are three parts of this process: who, what, and how.

Who you are delegating to is an important consideration. You need to take into account their experience, abilities, strengths, and professional development needs. What involves matching the assignment with the appropriate person, not just choosing the closest person at hand or the person who always says ‘yes’. And the how – you need to give clear expectations of what you want, communicate boundaries and requirements such as budget and deadlines; but not the nitty gritty details of how to do it.

Because we feel we can accomplish the task best, delegating may feel uncomfortable at first.  Maybe you don’t want to overload your colleagues, or think you can get it done quicker yourself, or you simply like the task and don’t want to give it up. These reasons can send messages of ‘I don’t trust you’, or ‘I’m a control freak’.

Keep in mind that delegating doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility. Involving others helps them grow professionally and although it may be true you can do it better or more quickly yourself, the time and effort you spend up front will be worth it in the long run.

For some great tips, take a look at the Delegator’s Dozen: A Preparation Checklist included in this SHRM article.

Larisa Hinton
Monday, March 20, 2017

How do you react when you’re in a conflict situation with another person? Do you want to win, yield, delay, bargain, or find a solution that benefits both of you?

Conflicts are part of everyday life, both at work and at home. To a large degree, conflicts are predictable and naturally arise as we work on complex projects in which we’re significantly invested. People generally perceive conflict as a struggle that creates negative emotions. However, it can provide a positive opportunity for change and improvement.

Despite the uncomfortable feelings it may stir up, conflict isn’t necessarily an aggressive confrontation or argument. It can often be a simple difference of opinion. The distinction lies in the importance of the issue and the amount of energy you put into it. If we stay alert to the possibility of conflicts and develop skills to deal with them, then we’re more likely to view conflicts as productive learning experiences.

We each have unique backgrounds, experiences, and approaches to various situations. Conflict resolution begins with understanding and validating the other person’s point of view. This understanding helps create the opportunity to achieve effective conflict resolution together.

As part of my role in the Center for Leadership Excellence, I facilitate a class called Managing Conflict, using the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). The TKI involves taking a behavioral assessment that identifies your typical approach to conflict situations. The five approaches in the TKI are Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Avoiding, and Accommodating. Each represents a set of social skills and each is useful in certain situations. In the class, we delve into the implications of each style and assess conflict scenarios. The more we learn how to successfully deal with conflict, the better equipped we are to help others do the same. If this topic interests you, come join the CLE team on March 30th to find out more!


Samantha Campbell
Friday, February 3, 2017


Q: What song would you sing at karaoke night?
A: Gloria – Patti Smith’s version.

Q: What does leadership mean to you? 
A: Big question! To me, leadership means empowering yourself and others to contribute to a common cause in meaningful ways.

Q: Your favorite place to eat in Charlottesville?
A: Alley Light.

Q: What is your proudest/greatest achievement outside of the professional realm?
A: For now, I’d say leading a gentle life without intentionally causing harm. I hope my greatest achievement is yet to come.

Q: What are three things you love about UVA?
A: The serpentine walls, the camaraderie, and it’s where I met the love of my life.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Sea shells, sea glass, and alebrijes (Oaxacan wood carvings).

Q: Why did you choose your profession?  
A: People fascinate me. I love finding out what makes them tick, learning from them, and sharing my knowledge. Working for the Center for Leadership Excellence is the perfect place for me!

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?
A: Weekends are for relaxing, hanging with friends, and spending as much time as possible with my dog, Koko. Time off is for travel!!

Q: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A:  Tell the truth with kindness.

Q: What about you would surprise us?
A:  I have a pony! An ornery, little pony that came with our house when we bought it.

Larisa Hinton
Friday, November 11, 2016

I listened to an incredible violinist a few weeks ago. He played so beautifully it seemed like he was put on this earth for no other reason. I was mesmerized. It was at an outdoor festival during a rain storm and I was cold, wet, and hungry, but nothing was going to move me from the spot where I stood. I felt like the postman – neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night was going to stop me from absorbing the brilliance of this musician.

I started wondering, can you lead through music? Of course you can. Think of the role music plays at UVA football games. Before the kickoff, the Star Spangled Banner unites everyone in the stadium despite their team alliance. As the game proceeds, the marching band revs up the crowd with their peppy pop repertoire. And then there’s the Good Old Song, set to the music of Auld Lang Syne. It’s reserved for when UVA scores, and it spurs Hoos on to embrace, sing, sway, and celebrate. Music literally leads the crowd to act as a team.

Music at church, weddings, and funerals lead us to rejoice, celebrate, and mourn. Songs can even inspire people to stand together in the face of adversity. A powerful example is the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights movement, “We Shall Overcome.”

I believe music has the power to uplift you, motivate you, inspire you, and lead you.

Music can change the world because it can change people. – Bono

Nicky Sanders of the Steep Canyon Rangers