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Ownership and Collaboration – Key Elements in Kentucky Workforce Investment Leadership

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Mar 4, 2011

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Ownership and Collaboration – Key Elements in Kentucky Workforce Investment Leadership

“Information is not valuable unless it is shared” says Beth Brinley, Commissioner of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s Department of Workforce Investment. Having been cited as an exception leader by her peers, she is one of several individuals with whom we are conducting interviews under the Enhancing Workforce Leadership Initiative. This project is documenting the specific approaches, practices, and resources effective leaders are using to do their work, in the context of their goals, organizational environments, and communities.  Although Beth had plenty of good insights into effective leadership that will be included in the final results, we couldn’t wait to share a few highlights.

Beth advocates sharing information to create ownership and collaboration among all partners within the system.  Whether it is implementing “skilling up” initiatives, sector strategies, or career pathways models, Beth believes you can’t be successful without doing things in partnership with other agencies, making team decision with those partners, and finding commonality among all parts and partners within the system.  It’s about creating an open dialogue with peers and partners about their issues and challenges and looking for solutions together.  This creates “win-win” opportunities and shared goals and objectives.  This also helps the system to focus on a “world view versus a specific program or funding source view.”

Beth indicates that this requires us to get to know our partners and their programs as well as we know our own.  We need to get out of our introspection, “take off our blinders” and look for points where our programs and services intersect with our partners.  This not only creates opportunities for strategic alliances but also allows us to streamline all of our work to increase customer satisfaction.

To create ownership within an agency, Beth states, great leaders reinforce every day the “why” behind our daily actions.  Too often workers can get so busy they forget about the “why”.  Great leaders will create buy-in for internal system changes by asking for input and decisions from frontline staff on how to do their work more effectively.  Great leaders also act as a cheerleader.  They encourage workers to ask themselves daily how they might do their work differently to be more effective at meeting the needs of the customers.

These are just a few of the great ideas we gleaned from Beth during our conversation.  We will be doing a more comprehensive analysis of all of her insights throughout the course of the project.