Reflections on LDP
This is a guest post by Amanda Vail, of Plymouth Housing Group.
If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to lose perspective. You go to your job (day in, day out) and you focus on solving problems. Sometimes the small problems loom quite large, and sometimes they cease being “problems” at all because they’re simply obstacles you’ve learned to move around. You may become so caught up in the motions of completing your daily/weekly/monthly task lists that you forget that what you’re doing is connected to something larger. The fact is, there are other people out there solving very similar problems from a different angle, and your collective efforts make a huge impact on not only the affordable housing community, but on our community as a whole.
If there’s any one word to sum up what I gained from participating in the 2014 Leadership Development Program, it’s this: perspective. From the very first session—a day-long retreat on a sunny Saturday in December—I learned the importance of looking at a challenge from different vantages. In leadership jargon, I and my cohort colleagues learned to “zoom in and zoom out” on problems, paying attention to both details and the bigger picture. Through many different topics (board development, diversity, policy and advocacy, financial resources, and more), I was shown the value of flexible thinking, open communication, and a broad understanding of the affordable housing industry.
Plus—and this one’s important—I learned how many amazing, dedicated, talented, and passionate people there are working in affordable housing right now. Not only did I study and grow alongside a cohort of colleagues from across the industry, but I listened to current leaders talk about not just successes and challenges, but also times when, shall we say, things didn’t go exactly as hoped. Both the industry leaders and my cohort colleagues were able to model the integrity and honesty needed to accept mistakes, learn from them, and move past them toward future success.
One of the things that impressed me the most about the Leadership Development Program was how well it showcased what a wide array of skills are needed to advocate for, fund, develop, and manage programs to ensure people can find safe housing they can actually afford. It’s no stretch to say that affordable housing is a critical (and underprovided) need in society, and we need leaders with many different talents and perspectives to take on this challenge.
It’s been several months now since the program ended, but the shine of new learning has yet to wear off. I’m still putting the new skills and perspective I gained to use on a daily basis, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. On those days when the small problems become too large (because they do, and they still will, at times), I pause and reflect on what I’ve learned. If that’s not enough, I now have a network of industry friends and colleagues who can help me regain perspective.
These problems—small and large—that we’re solving have a real impact on our colleagues, our employees, and on the people who need affordable housing.