Final Reflection Paper

 

Final Reflection – Paper

Webinars, Workshops, and Papers on Women Leadership that I took in the process of this Certification Program:

  • Dealing with Difficult People
  • Social Media Etiquette & Career Development
  • Workplace Net-etiquette & Business Technical Communication
  • Leadership Style
  • Hip Chick Leadership
  • Ethical Leadership

Dealing with Difficult People

In the Above The Fray: Dealing with Difficult People workshop, I was taught several techniques to coping with stressful relationships. These techniques can be used in personal relationships, workplace relationships, or any situation in which you are in a confrontation with another person.

I learned that there are 3 stages of addressing and identifying difficult situations.

1 – If (you address it)

This is the stage at which you decide if you should or should not address or point out the problem. Ask yourself if it is worth it to engage.

2 – What (will you address)

If you decide to address the problem, you must identify what specifically you want to point out. Sticking with facts and examples is the best approach. It allows you to remain unbiased and give samples of what offended you. Do not downplay or exaggerate the examples, give facts.

3 – How (are you going to address it)

At this stage you decide how you will approach addressing the problem. You have a variety of options in this, since you can approach it positively, negatively, aggressively, or passively. Although it is recommended to address the problem in a positive way, that way you do not force the other person to take defense. The point of addressing the situation is to allow the other person to see what behavior they have, is causing you stress, so that they may stop it.

It was also recommended that if necessary, to write an Assertive Statement, explaining in writing, what your problems are. To not be defensive or use vague terms such as ‘always’ or ‘constantly’. To keep in mind that electronic communication is not the same as saying it in person. You must be very clear and watch how your statement can be misunderstood.

I learned that there are 5 types of Relationships.

1 – Very Nourishing

2 – Mildly Nourishing

3 – Non-contributing

4 – Mildly Toxic

5 – Very Toxic

Once you identify what type of relationship your problem falls in, you can then decide how effectively the stages will be, or if you should attempt to address the problem at all. For very toxic relationships, it’s recommended to separate yourself from a very toxic relationship, without confrontation. Due to the severity of stress that this type of relationship can and will continue to cause.

You must maintain self-respect, if you do not respect yourself, you cannot expect others to. If you allow the problem to continue, there are physical attributes that are red flags that someone is suffering from a toxic relationship.

The lecture also gave examples of what to do when you find yourself in a stressful situation. That our bodies will respond with a fight or flight response, regardless of whether it’s emotional stress or physical. That we react the same way, when we feel that we are being attacked. Our bodies do not differentiate what type of stress. The first thing you should do is physically withdraw from the situation, step back. Allow yourself time to take a deep breath and realize what situation you are in.

The lecture also suggested ‘zinging yourself’ with a rubber band bracelet. This allows you to distract yourself and zap back to reality. If you need to say a mantra, take a second to do it. Ask if you can take a step back and readdress it when you’ve had time to think about the problem and can address it. And lastly we were told to read the book ‘Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcer’s’ by Robert Sapolsky.

Social Media Etiquette & Career Development

In these seminars and workshops, I learned how to utilize social media and networking to promote my professional brand. I learned to limit my use of social media accounts based on the audience and direction of my specific industry. I chose to utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, and a blog. I chose these because the majority of my network is already on these two social networking sites but I picked the blog because of the amount of research papers and project outlines I planned to do. I needed a space where I could write and detail my experiences. Previously I did not think that social networking sites or even networking was effective or necessary in a person’s career, but I was mistaken and the seminars I attended pointed out many advantages to networking. I see now, how vital networking is in today’s workplace. I also learned how to be consistent with all of my professional accounts, using the same information and data across the board. In the Alumni webinars, I learned how to revamp my resume, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts, and what was allowed and discouraged on a resume. I found that I had a lot of experience I left off of my resume and LinkedIn that gave a full picture of my skills.

The seminar gave several examples of how to use keywords to make your profile and resume pop. I also needed to make a decision on how to present myself in my profiles, for example: using a professional photo over a more relaxed and casual photo. Depending on the audience you want to reach, either could work. The seminars had the students review several example profiles, viewing each profile for only 5 seconds each. The goal was to let us experience what a recruiter does when looking through resumes. This was the best way for me to learn how to make items pop out. I realized that having a photo is better than none, to keep your title short, and keep your mission statement strong and positive. The goal is to catch the eye of a recruiter or employer so that they will read the details. I also learned how to create a personal brand that I can use on social media platforms. I learned that it is a personal design or symbol that represents my career aspirations. All of these aspects contribute to the overall self-promotion towards the audience and industry of my career choice.

Workplace Net-etiquette & Business Technical Communication

This was not a topic I picked up in the workshops but a required Communication class I tool last year. The topic was Technical Business Communication. It dealt with how to communicate effectively in a business environment and maintain professionalism, clearly define your thoughts and intentions, and adhere to net-etiquette. The business world views writing as a critical skill, it feels that writing is the most important communication skill. This is because it is the most difficult communicative skill to master than the rest.

The class was given several examples of proper emails, how to setup a meeting, and how to respond to disputes. We learned the three stages of the process of writing; Planning, Drafting, and Revising.

I was reminded that everything that is written can be held against you. A good way to self-filter your language and tone is to ask yourself if you would feel embarrassed if your statement were to be read aloud in a full courtroom. If so, then you need to rewrite it.

Writing was not the only communication skill taught to us, but the most focused on. We also learned how to properly prepare a business meeting speech or conduct an oral report. I learned how to draft a report, the different styles of reports, and how to use it as a template for an oral report or presentation.

Leadership Style

I learned how to identify my personal leadership style and how to effectively use it when leading a project or team.

There are three main leadership styles:

-Front End Leader

-Supporting Leader

-Interactive Leader

I had to first identify what my particular style is, which I discovered is a Front End Leader, I like to demonstrate something first and then allow the team or member to attempt it on their own. Switching to a Supporting Leader, as the team attempts to try the new task or project.

I learned that your leadership style should compliment your personality traits, leaning towards them in a positive light. I am a visual learner, myself, so I know how difficult it can be to pick up a new skill without first running through the process visually first. So if I utilize this when I demonstrate my proposed task or project, I can effectively explain each detail slowly and effectively.

I learned that this does not always work for each and every project and that a leader must be open to changing up their style and approach, depending on the project or task. But overall, you must stick to what is comfortable for both you and each of the team members.

Hip Chick Leadership

In the Hip Chick Leadership seminar, we learned how to play to our strengths. Women tend to hide or down play their natural strengths and abilities, in order to stay under the radar. They do not want to create conflict or waves and will go to great lengths to do so.

Women must focus on what defines a leader and not focus on their perceived limitations due to their gender. A leader finds a need and resolves it, if there is a gap, you fill it. There are situations of gender discrimination and inequality but focusing on these differences only encourages and focuses on the differences. To be recognized as a leader first and a woman second, one must show leadership skills. If you have ideas, share them and work on them. Allowing fear to overcome and hold you back will not allow you to progress, thus perpetuating the gender gap. If women want to be seen for what they do, then they need to stop feeling fear and allowing that fear to stop them.

Ethical Leadership

I was at first confused what defined ethical leadership. But I now understand that an ethical leadership is leading a team or company in a direction that maintains dignity and respect to others. This means that they must be a trustworthy leader. They demonstrate that they are not acting on selfish intent or personal gain.

So what was covered was more what didn’t qualify as ethical leadership. An effective leader encourages change in a task or process without affecting the teams views or personal values. An ethical leader encourages the team to be self sufficient and reliant, so they feel a sense of empowerment in their own abilities.

Application Project

Project Name and Description – SOC2 Certification Preparation

 

I work for a Telecommunication company specializing in providing VoIP services, internet services, webhosting, and reselling CISCO products. The company started as an Independent Telephone company in Western New York that has spanned across New York State, into Pennsylvania, and has CISCO customers spread all over the east coast. One large project that we have taken on in 2012 is Data Storage. The company purchased a portion of the Seneca Army Depot in Upstate New York several years back, with the intention of using the property as a secured storage facility. Since its purchase, we have expanded into storage options available for our customers as well. Our customer base encompasses any business or organization that uses telephone and internet services, so the range is quite large. We have worked with several customer requirements over the years, since different organizations require standard operating procedures in order to maintain their status, legal funding, and tax qualifications. An example of such requirements is OSHA laws and regulations for public schools. All of our engineers who worked on a project for a school district were required to become OSHA certified before beginning any work on said project.

As a whole, the entire company did not require OSHA certification due to the law’s requirements, however now that we are delving into data storage for specific businesses that deal with HIPPA and tax information, we are required to become SOC2 certified. SOC2 certifications are an auditing standard that says we operate our business with system controls and meet the certifications privacy and confidentiality standard requirements. (ISACA; 2012) It’s another way of saying we have been checked and pass.

Due to the sensitive nature of this Certification, the project team had to become aware of our current Security SOP, policy, training, and the areas where we are lacking. I am currently going to R.I.T. for Information Security and Forensics, which pulled me into the project team. Since our company is mainly filled with Engineers, they were unfamiliar with stepping back and looking at the company as a whole. Since each engineer has a specific skill set for their particular area. They do their jobs extremely well, but the concept of checking Security is not always at the forefront. My direct manager and COO know of my degree and that my focus is on policy writing, specifically and felt I was perfect for the team. They felt I would contribute to any policy corrections and implementations that were needed for us to pass the certification.

The project started in September of 2012, with an estimated completion date of February 2013. I co-lead with the Sales Engineer (An Engineer who works closely with the Sales team –bridging the gap between the two Departments. This person is usually the one that offers technical oriented answers and solutions that the Sales team may not know off hand.) Who was responsible for the Data Storage & Cloud Computing customer packages.

My original assigned lead role was as Policy Administrator, my duties surrounded creating and managing the compliancy policy and work with the Compliancy Team, NOC Specialist, and Audit Team. The Compliancy Officer stayed in the overall lead position, training me to take over his role once the initial audit occurred. The role of the Compliancy Officer is to be the overall policy administer and approve or deny implementation and maintain quality assurance. My role was deciding the initial risk without updating or changing those areas of unacceptable risk, and testing the policies after they had been updated. I had to do this within the definitions of the Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (C.I.A. umbrella of management).

As Policy Administrator, I was in control of the policy structure and presentation. Below is a list of Policy items I demonstrated a leadership role in:

  1. Creating Initial Risk Management Audit by determining potential threats and vulnerabilities.
  2. Creating and updating the overall company policy.
  3. Separating policies based on departments and sensitive information (I.E. creating a companywide policy, Department specific policy amendments, and a policy specific to the Data Storage team only.)
  4. Created the Data Storage training steps and presentation.
  5. Researched and demoed available Training and Awareness programs that our company could implement. Also presented the estimated budget of these programs to the Compliancy Officer and appropriate teams.
  6. I ran through ‘trial run’s’ of various aspects of the policy and training, to verify the overall flow and competency of the documentation.
  7. Ran Secondary Risk Management Audit

 

My role relied upon promptness and multiple team meetings and discussions along the way. I organized updates to all those involved and scheduled 1-1 meetings when necessary. I attempted to limit the amount of entire team meetings to occur when absolutely necessary.

From the Leadership seminars and workshops, I learned the following that I was able to apply to this project:

  1. Organizing a complete schedule for myself and the team members.
    1. I learned how to utilize a project calendar and task manager effectively.
    2. How to manage time that is separated amongst a team.
    3. How to pick up the slack and address it properly if a portion falls behind.
  2. Dealing with miscommunication or difficulty.
    1. I utilized technical communication skills I learned in a previous class as well as dealing specifically with difficult co-workers. Specifically how to step back from a situation and readdress conflicts without the ‘knee jerk’ reaction.
  3. Leadership style
    1. I learned what my leadership style is and how to use it effectively, based on team member personality types.

The above were not the only leadership skills I applied to my project but I did find that the Leadership Program prepared me effectively to handle these common situations. I felt comfortable and confident when faced with the above issues.

Conclusion

In closing, I feel that I am a better candidate for the career path I have chosen. I now understand the usefulness of technology in a career. That in today’s world, the market is constantly changing and that we must change with it. I feel that the majority of the topics and lectures were interchangeable regardless of gender and are just as important to males as they are to females. I am fully aware that being a female in the tech field comes with its own obstacles, but not as many as you would think. I feel that too many women deny their femininity because they feel it is a disadvantage, which simply is not true. And this program helped me understand and believe that. Professionalism has no gender.

I feel much more confident in myself now that I am empowered with the skills to promote myself and my career. I now know how to resolve conflict or preferably avoid it, but I now feel that should it come up, I can diffuse it. I now recognize the leadership skills I already had and feel that I have prepped the areas I was lacking in. Overall, I feel more confident that I have been prepared for my career. 

 

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