Julie Bayer-Vile, MS, MLS(ASCP)CMSCCM, MBCM; Mary Ann McLane, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM; Stephanie Noblit, MLS(ASCP)CM; Catherine Otto, MLS(ASCP)CM
Region II Leadership Academy Task Force
Leadership within any endeavor carries certain universal characteristics in the people who are considered leaders, the instances that call for leadership, and the individuals who are led. Where there is much controversy over the statement, “leaders are born, not made,” those of us who have committed to involvement in ASCLS, our careers, or our families know that leadership is a dynamic skill that is different for a given setting. What is not in debate is the need for someone in every situation to step forward and make the impossible possible, foster a vibrant and creative environment, and to be skilled in persuading people to do what needs to be done.
Ten years ago, the ASCLS Board of Directors recognized the need for our members to experience an intensive group effort focused on developing leadership skills. The national Leadership Academy was developed. Region II recently recognized the need, as have other ASCLS regions and states, for a regional Leadership Academy to help foster the leadership potential of our members. A task force was formed in October 2016 to help shape our vision for the Leadership Academy.
Our biggest challenge was deciding how to adapt the existing format to best serve the needs of our state societies and our members without duplicating the material presented in the national Leadership Academy. Using guidance, experience, and suggestions gathered through discussions with other regional Leadership Academy leaders, our state leaders, and our region’s members, we were able to identify the components that would be most beneficial for our region. Our main goal was to develop a Leadership Academy with content designed to be applicable to the participant’s future experience with ASCLS, but that was also applicable to their careers in clinical laboratory science.
We view our Leadership Academy as a gateway to further ASCLS involvement and future national Leadership Academy participation. As such, we decided to forego a class project and have our Academy be content and discussion-driven. We utilize a forum in the ASLCS online community to facilitate discussion among our participants as a way of furthering the conversation and learning around our chosen topics of instruction. We hold monthly webinars on a wide range of topics, including:
- The History of ASCLS
- Leadership, Vision, and Goal Setting
- Team Building
- Mentoring and Coaching
- Networking and Advocacy
- Recruitment and Retention
- Promotion of the Profession
- Successful Meetings
- Strategic Planning
We conduct monthly webinars using Zoom and our Academy is free for all participants. Our speakers are experienced leaders in ASCLS at the local, regional, and national levels. Each of the committee members speak, along with our Region II director, Nadine Fydryszewski; ASCLS Executive Vice President Emeritus, Elissa Passiment; and other leaders from within and outside our region. Each session provides P.A.C.E.® credit for our participants.
The application was opened in July 2017 with a maximum capacity of ten. We felt this number would allow for a diversity of voices and experiences, while not proving too overwhelming for our class. In August 2017, we decided to open admission to our neighbor, Region I. The only requirement for application was membership in ASCLS. Continued participation is contingent upon active participation and attendance for the webinars. To graduate from our regional Leadership Academy, participants must participate in at least two thirds of our conference calls. We are expecting to graduate seven from our first class in June 2018.
The process of developing and executing this Leadership Academy has been a learning experience for the committee. Our challenges have included finding a presentation time conducive to as many schedules as possible, determining our outcome measures for success, and fostering an environment for active discussion and networking. We’ve gotten valuable feedback from our participants on how to improve and enhance the experience for our next group. We are grateful for the guidance and support we’ve received from our fellow regional Leadership Academies, from our presenters, and most of all, from our participants. The members of our first class come with an amazing level of potential for leadership in ASCLS and in the clinical laboratory. We are proud of what they are learning and appreciate their willingness and enthusiasm in leading us through this process.