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Leading Impact Program Kicks Off with Anti-Bias Workshop

2018 December 10
by HISD Communications

Participants engaged in lively discussion during the inaugural session of Leading Impact, a new interactive management development program for Business Operations.

Fifty managers — selected from 140 applicants across Business Operations — have been tapped to participate in the seven-month program, which focuses on leadership, communication, decision making, team and talent management, and performance management.

The program, which was organized by Business Operations Support and kicked off in November, calls for participants to attend a full-day training session once a month.

“We are all in this room because we’re leaders,” Business Support Officer Mary Lehnartz said. “We need to be a voice, not just because it’s our job, but because it’s our communities. It’s our kids that are being impacted.”

Leading Impact is one of two programs designed to cultivate leadership skills across the division. In January, a cohort of senior managers will begin a three-month, six-session course Leadership Series provided in partnership with the University of Houston and focused on leadership empowerment, including development of self-awareness and effective leadership behaviors.

At the first Leading Impact session, attendees received a socio-economic history of public schools and an overview of HISD’s Government Relations Department and participated in a workshop about removing bias in the K-12 environment. During the workshop, the paired up and were told to make assumptions about their partner’s spoken languages, ethnicity, favorite foods, and other preferences.

“Judging someone without knowing them makes people uncomfortable — and it should,” Custodial Team Lead Octavio Lopez said, explaining that he though the activity was effective.

Anti-bias workshop Presenter Rhoda Linton stressed that prejudice can have a detrimental effect on productivity.

“When people are experiencing these microaggressions in their workplace, it impedes their performance,” Linton said. “They seem to be harmless, but over time they wear the culture of a company down.”

Maintenance Team Lead Ronald Richardson said he will use some of the program activities with his own team.

“I want to take this back and show those guys,” Richardson said. “Everybody needs this.”

In addition to the scheduled sessions, managers also are required to participate in “experience” activities — touring a 2012 Bond school, visiting the Customer Care Call Center, volunteering at a transportation hub or motor pool — that allow them to get a glimpse of the different departments under Business Operations and the breadth of work they do.

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