Leadership ITE Session in Miami started with an informal meeting with our project team and other members of the class. The LeadershipITE workshop picked up where we left off in Washington DC and continued with interesting discussions and passionate arguments. The class participated in the ITE Technical Conference. We attended the technical sessions which covered various topics and concluded with updates from Google about their progress on the self-driving car. In one of the technical sessions LeadershipITE class provided updates on the status of the projects undertaken by various groups. It was great to see a lot of interest among the ITE community on the projects and we obtained valuable feedback and direction to move forward with our work. I went on a 3-hour tour of Port of Miami Tunnel construction site guided by the resident engineers. We attended the reception organized by ITE International President.
I flew out Friday evening to get to Miami in time to make the early start Saturday morning of our second Leadership group meeting. The weekend meeting was scheduled in advance of ITE’s Technical Conference. Glen Tecker continued to lead the weekend activities. We continued with self-assessments or our leadership styles. Four competencies of leadership: management of attention, meaning, trust and self were discussed in depth. We then talked about four Portraits of Influential Leadership: Catalytic, Servant, Visionary, and Expert. The discussion then moved to conflict resolution with activities including role playing in which we practiced resolving conflicts in the workplace. Our final discussion topic was on Facilitation and working with groups to gain consensus.
Our groups also spent time working together on our selected topics. My group continued our discussion of the transportation engineer’s role in accommodating all users in our transportation system. Our topic was developed into a focus on Complete Streets and ITE’s role in developing and promoting the concept. This work led to a presentation during a session at the Technical conference. The presentations were as opportunity to update ITE on our work and to seek input on our topics.
On Sunday the candidates for ITE Vice President presented their campaign pitches to the Leadership group and held a question and answer session with us over lunch. The ITE Technical Conference started up Sunday evening and went through Wednesday. I was able to attend several technical sessions and committee meetings.
The Leadership program has also included webinars over the last several months on working with elected officials, communicating technical topics to non-technical audiences, and professional etiquette.
We are over half way through with LeadershipITE 2014. After a kick-off in Washington D.C. last fall, we went our separate ways and began work on our group projects. We met back up in Miami as part of the 2014 ITE Technical Conference. Over 5 days in Miami, we had further Leadership courses with Glen Techer, enjoyed networking and attending sessions as part of the technical conference, and had a little fun as well.
My group consists of 6 engineers – four of us in consulting, one academia, and one public sector. We span from New Jersey to Texas and even up to Canada. For our LeadershipITE project, we are tackling Advocacy in Transportation and more specifically, what should ITE’s role be. Our backgrounds lead us to different opinions and force us to work together to see each other’s perspectives. The current ITE President, Hibbett Neal, has a special interest in Transportation Advocacy and has formed an Advocacy Committee. The committee, led by Monica Suter and Sam Schwartz, has already taken an active role in promoting advocacy through our organization. Even within ITE there are wildly different opinions on positions ITE should be taking as an organization or whether we should take a position at all. In Miami, our group met with the Advocacy Committee to hear their goals and objectives for the new committee and discuss how our group could help. We are currently working on a white paper and presentation to the ITE this August. I hope to stay involved in the Advocacy Committee even after the completion of LeadershipITE.
Other highlights of our trip to Miami included some great presentations on emerging technology including an update from Google on their autonomous vehicle, getting to know the ITE International Vice-President candidates, seeing Mark Cuban’s enormous yacht complete with a basketball court, and sight-seeing via boat all of the celebrity homes along the water. It was a great trip to Miami and I am really looking forward to Seattle in August.
Prior to the ITE Technical Conference held in March in Miami, the LeadershipITE class participated in two webinars; first, building effective relationships with elected officials, and second, outclassing the competition. The ITE Technical Conference was the setting for the second in-person meeting of the LeadershipITE class. The weekend of leadership training began with some self-assessments on our personal leadership strategy and competencies.
Over the course of the weekend, we learned about the leadership strategy cycle that includes Intent or stating the purpose, Behavior or defining/modeling desired behavior, Effect or monitoring the progress, and finally Adjustment which is key to leadership. Adjustment is needed more times than not because our initial plans rarely are perfect. Having the skill to monitor or observe, and then adjust the plan accordingly makes a more successful leader. Next we learned about leadership competencies – Attention, Meaning, Trust, and Self. Our facilitator, Glenn Tecker, described the Management of Trust as the ‘residue of promises kept; without trust, who will follow?’ We evaluated ourselves through each of these competencies to identify areas we need to improve.
We also learned about negotiation, problem solving and conflict resolution. To practice skills we learned, we role played in small groups of a situation with a difficult employee. It was entertaining as we played up the roles in the situation. We ended class with a session on facilitation. We learned techniques for how to promote discussion among all group participants so that all voices are heard and have a chance to share their input. Facilitating groups might mean you are working to gain consensus. We learned techniques on how to reach consensus, but more importantly to recognize when consensus is reached.
We were allowed a session at the technical conference session to share our group project progress. This was a very useful session for the LeadershipITE participants. Those attending the session to listen were very open to hear our thoughts and ideas, and more importantly to share their feedback with us and to question some of our statements that helped invoke more thought and consideration. Several people encouraged our groups to seek additional feedback from other district and section groups. It was refreshing to see these leaders within our Institute acknowledge the energy and passion the LeadershipITE participants brought to the group projects.
The biggest takeaway for me from both in-person sessions is the networking and relationship building opportunity. My classmates are truly passionate individuals looking to make ITE better for its members. Everyone in the class wants to see the Institute grow in membership and serve a wide variety of stakeholders. We all see the need to respond to our memberships’ needs in nontraditional ways. We share ideas and observations about our sections, districts, and Institute. We are building trust and confidence in each other that will serve us for many years to come in both our professional and our personal lives.
I am very grateful for the financial support the Texas District, the Greater Fort Worth Section, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have given me to participate in LeadershipITE. This leadership program has been very informative and formative for me.