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Reflective Application Paper Opening Residency: Executive Leadership Development

Robert Paul Ellentuck The George Washington University Executive MBA Program EMBA 202 Professor James Bailey

1. MY PERSONAL VISION: The results of the Exploring Leadership Philosophy exercise, completed during the Opening Residency, showed me that my life and career aspirations focus on achievement, ambition, economic security, integrity, and

competence. I have always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment and success that achieving a goal has brought, but I have never limited this focus to the business world. I also enjoy achieving goals in my academic pursuits as well as in my personal life. Examples of achievement in my career have been promotions, awards, and economic rewards. Examples of achievement in my academic career have been good grades, academic awards, commitment to

excellence, taking and excelling in the most challenging courses, and a pursuit of true intellectual achievement. Examples of achievement in personal life are my strong and lasting friendships and devoted relationships, close ties with my immediate and extended family, and my long term commitment to my volunteer work and organizations. In addition, I am ambitious in seeking career advancement, and I believe in using strong grades in the classroom to speed eventual promotion and gain new and challenging jobs. By combining hard work on the job and in the

classroom, I have been able to advance my career and achieve my ambitions. Examples of my ambition have been my pursuit of promotions and receipt of advanced academic degrees.

Economic security plays a key role in my values and vision for the future. I desire a steady, adequate income, one which will provide for my needs, and those of my family, throughout my life. It is important to note that economic security is pursued for a comfortable lifestyle, where I can provide for myself and my family, it is not to be confused with wealth and luxury. I have been able to obtain economic security, even through the current economic downturn, through success in my career. My promotions and the raises and bonuses they have brought have allowed me to obtain the desired level of economic security. Careful investment of this income has further insured my economic security. Integrity is also important to me. I pride myself on my honesty, sincerity, and genuiness; and I display this trait not only in the workplace and the academic world, but in my personal life. I consider my integrity to be a powerful balance in guiding my ambition. My integrity has helped me to win promotions and sped my career advancement, allowed me to gain lasting friends, strengthened my ability to pursue my other life and career aspirations, and enhanced my personal relationships. The exercise shows my final value is competence. I pride myself that I am capable and effective in all things that I undertake in the workplace and academic world. The competence that I have displayed while achieving

success in my career and in school has strengthened my ability to pursue my other life and career aspirations.

My instrument/process values are best demonstrated in my integrity, competency, and ambition values as shown in the Exploring Leadership Philosophy Exercise. Instrument and process values can be defined as being about a desired way of personal behavior and/or course of conduct. These values are self-focused ones and revolve about my ability and what I want to accomplish. These values are essentially about objectives that I would like to

achieve in life. For example, I work constantly to be known for my integrity and competency. My terminal/end-state values are demonstrated by my friendship, happiness and health values as shown in the Exploring Leadership Philosophy Exercise. I scored lower on these values, and did not mention them previously though they are significant. Terminal and end state values can be defined as being essentially personal beliefs or convictions about lifelong goals and objectives. These values are very individual, and can best be described as desirable life situations I would like to experience. For example, I hope to enjoy good health and happiness in my life. My social priorities have always taken a secondary role to my career and academic achievements. While I maintain an intimate group of close friends, I do not find the time to really add to this group. I have not yet found the time to pursue a committed relationship to marriage, but this is a goal that I am now moving toward the forefront, as I desire marriage and family. For someone who has always worked as hard as I have, whether in my career or in school,

frequently my social priorities have taken a back seat. Learning for its own sake, and business, are the two things that have always intellectually excited me. My academic career has allowed me a

diverse education and the opportunity to study at a variety of institutions; and a variety of topics. Whether I have studied Russian Literature or Real Estate

Finance I have found learning to be a challenging and intellectually exciting experience. I have also found my experiences in the business world to be

intellectually exciting. I have found that while developing a commercial real estate project the variety of challenges that one is faced with on a daily basis is stimulating and exciting and unlike anything else I have experienced. I want to be to be the type of person, friend, and spouse who is valued by everyone around me for my positive personality, openness, honesty, and hard work. I want to be the kind of spouse who is most importantly the best friend of my wife, and who I am able to provide for through my hard work and dedication to career. I want to be the kind of person who my friends and family always know that they can rely upon. I desire a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle. Economic security is of

upmost importance to me, and outweighs most other things except for my personal relationships. I don't find a need to live in luxurious home or travel to exotic places; I am far more interested in building long term financial security to support a marriage and family. My five to ten year career aspiration is to dedicate this time to building my

own real estate development company.

My company would focus on the

acquisition of raw, un-zoned, or under zoned land and the assembly of the zoning, architectural drawings, and permits necessary for development. At that point I would sell the land, drawings, and permits to another developer who was interested in constructing the project. I want to begin this immediately upon graduation from the EMBA program, and if the economy were to improve I could begin laying the groundwork before graduation. I want to run this

business for the remainder of my working career; this is the kind of business that I could run for as long as I wanted to. I have no desire to retire at 60 to play golf; instead I wish to run my own company for as long as I am physically and mentally able to do so. I believe that my personal and professional visions are very compatible. While real estate development is a highly competitive field, as a self employed developer I could balance my work, family, and social commitments, in terms of time and energy required, and therefore balance my visions as I saw fit. Real estate development would allow me to focus on achievement, my ambition, and work toward economic security. I would pursue this in an area of the real estate industry where I could carefully control risk while maximizing reward, and demonstrate my integrity in a field which is not always known for it. Moreover, real estate development is a field where competence would play a crucial role in my success. 2. DIAGNOSE YOUR CURRENT LEADERSHIP STRENGTHS AND DEVELOPMENTAL

OPPORTUNITIES: My current leadership strengths according to the "Belbin Team Roles Questionnaire" are as a specialist, implementer, and completer-finisher. As a specialist I focus on my skills and training as a financial analyst, development manager, and attorney. As an implementer I focus on my strengths as being conscientious, detail oriented, and emotionally controlled. As a completer-

finisher my strengths as being detail oriented, hard working, self disciplined, orderly, and consistent are highlighted. My developmental opportunities are most pronounced as a shaper, plant, and monitor-evaluator. As a shaper I

need to develop high achievement motivation, a desire to win, aggression, and extroversion. As a plant I need to strengthen my skills in innovation,

independence, autonomy, and unorthodoxy. Finally as a monitor-evaluator I need to develop detachment and a lack of emotion. The development

opportunities, my weaknesses under Belbin, are all areas where I have long been weak and need to strengthen my performance, whether in my career or on my team. Of great importance, I've learned from Belbin that when a team is performing at its best, youll usually find that each team member has clear responsibilities which are also his or her strengths. Just as importantly, youll normally see that every role needed to achieve the teams goal is being performed fully and well. Without team members that fill every role that Belbin lays out for a team, the team will probably fall short of its potential.

Belbin indicates that team members should stay away from areas in which they are weak in order to strengthen the function of the team. He suggests that, by understanding your team roles, you can develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses, and improve how you contribute as a team member. Belbin also indicates that teams can function badly if all team members have similar styles of behavior or team roles. According to Belbin if team members have similar weaknesses, the team as a whole may tend to have that weakness. Belbin suggests that if team members have similar strengths, they may tend to compete for the team roles that best suit their natural styles which may lead to unneeded conflict. The Belbin model can help to ensure that each necessary team role is covered, and that potential tensions or weaknesses among the team members are addressed before they become issues for the team. The role of goal setting in my career so far has allowed me to carefully set professional goals, and implement plans by which to meet the goals. I was taught early in my professional career to set goals that were Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. I learned this from my first employer out of my masters program who explained that this was the SMART goal system, which he had picked up at a management seminar. In the real estate industry, a development project can easily stretch to 3--5 years and beyond, and frequently the person starting the project will hand over the project to someone else at a pre-determined point (e.g., signing of construction

agreement). I learned that the entire project needed to be considered when setting project goals; I also learned to focus my personal goals on the time period during which I would be working on a project. I have also learned that goal setting is an important method of highlighting what is important for me to achieve in work, school, or on my project. Goal setting allows me to separate what is important from what is

irrelevant, or a distraction. Of great importance, I've always found goal setting is an excellent way of motivating myself. Also, goal setting has allowed me to build my self-confidence. The successful achievement of a goal has always made me feel good about my abilities. In my former job I was often in the position of setting goals for development team members that I had not had a hand in picking, or (in the case of my largest project) were hired after the team had been picked. These teams frequently were made up of members who frequently had unspoken goals that did not necessarily align with my company's goals in the completion of the real estate project. Learning the goals of the other team members was always a priority once I took over a project. For example, on one project the architects had the unspoken, though clearly evident, goal of designing a world class green urban neighborhood that would bring them great international acclaim. Their goal conflicted with my firm's goal of designing the most profitable development possible. There was no way to change the goal of the architects who had been brought to the team


primarily because they were a world class firm, and there was no way to remove them from the project. Instead I chose to add another architect to the design team, one who had designed many projects such as ours, and shared my firm's goal in designing the project profitably, to work with our primary architects and balance out their unspoken goal. On another project in which we were partnering with a public entity who owned the development site, the public entity had the unspoken goal of building the best building possible in the neighborhood in which they were long time patrons, and they carried this unspoken goal to the extreme of demanding to pick the materials that would make up the building. Again this came into conflict with our goal as developer in developing the most profitable project possible. In this situation there was no easy way to get our partner to adjust their unspoken goal, and we ended up rewriting the deal and purchasing the land from them outright. We were able to provide them with the assurance that they had chosen the design team originally, and their interests would be represented adequately by the design team. While this may be unique to the real estate industry, these are just a few examples of many where our team members had unspoken goals that differed or conflicted with our primary goal as the project leader. In most cases it was difficult to impossible to replace a team member once the project had begun and the team had been chosen, at which point we became aware of their unspoken goals.


In most normal cases working toward a goal provides a major source of motivation to actually reach the goal - which, in turn, improves performance. This has always been true for myself and the bulk of our team members. The following are some of the warning signs for derailment: The first is poor interpersonal skill, poor communication skills and lack of engagement. The

second is decreasing commitment. The loss of commitment to the team is a clear sign of derailment. The third is the loss of passion. The fourth is inadequate leadership skills. The fifth is resistance to change. The sixth is Inability to deliver expected results. The seventh is Inability to see beyond their functional silo. The eighth is personal issues. The ninth is lack of follow through. While at my last job, where I led the development team on a public private development, I engaged in destructive goal pursuit. In this situation my firm had been awarded the development rights to a large public private development in a major urban area. Due to the importance of the project, I had the team push ahead with the pre-development work while we were still negotiating the development agreement with the land owner. Regardless of all of the assurances that my firm was the chosen developer, the reality is you are not the developer in a situation like that until the development agreements are signed. While focusing on the importance of this substantial project, the important impact it would have on the reputation to our firm, and thinking solely of the goal that we had to develop the project at all costs, I lost sight of the most


important rule for a developer; and that is limit the expenditure of funds until the developer has control of the property. I learned that the relentless pursuit of a development agreement did not guarantee that one would ever be entered into. We focused on one all

important goal, without the flexibility to change when we needed to. My firm was placed in a position that when the economy began to deteriorate quickly we were unable to adjust our project quickly enough and were left having done the predevelopment work with no project to develop. I also learned that my single handed pursuit of one goal caused me to neglect smaller projects that had a far greater chance of success. The open communication that I thought we had with the land owner disappeared as soon as the economy slowed down. Without the open communication, we suddenly ended up with two teams of lawyers exchanging heated letters. The lack of what was a truly

empowered team prevented us from responding quickly to this error when it became evident. Of greatest significance I learned that my overreaching focus on the development of the project at all costs, by not being more flexible in choosing goals and adapting the goals to changes, led me to the situation where I didn't see that the land owner was moving away from the project and my firm as the developer, and when the economic crisis arrived the project collapsed and my firm was left with nothing. 3. INDIVIDUAL LEARNING PLAN (ILP),


The first objective on my Individual Learning Plan is that I need to strengthen two of the areas in which I am weak in Belbin, as a Shaper and as a Plant. I believe these are key areas for me that impact my academic, career, and social goals. First, as a shaper I am weak in several key areas: I need to develop high achievement motivation, a desire to win, aggression, and extroversion. Secondly, as a plant I am weak in other key areas: I need to

develop skills in innovation, independence, autonomy, and unorthodoxy. The most important items to develop, to further my current academic goals, and short and long term career goals are aggression, extroversion, innovation, and unorthodoxy. To enhance my success in the EMBA program I need to strengthen these traits. To enhance my success in my career I need to strengthen all of the above plus aggression. My natural reticence and easy going nature need to be developed into a more outgoing forward style. I believe the most important step that I can pursue to help me develop this will be to participate in Toastmasters International until I effectively overcome my natural shyness. Once I overcome the shyness,

Toastmasters will allow me to pursue the other issues. This will help in academics, business, and my social agenda. I believe that my participation in Toastmasters will require me to think on my feet will help lead me to develop innovation and unorthodoxy. Toastmasters will also encourage me to expose my ideas without risk of non-constructive criticism and gain acceptance. The requirement to think on your feet, and


quickly come up with speeches on a variety of topics is going to challenge my lack of innovation and to some degree my orthodoxy. I need to learn to

innovate and be unorthodox to succeed in academics and business. The biggest obstacle that I currently have to participating in Toastmasters is the lack of time. Also, due to the severity of my shyness I will always be

tempted to find a reason not to attend. I think that I am the only person who can measure these changes, though I could always try to repeat the Belbin questionnaire at regular intervals to monitor change. For coaching and feedback I need to turn to those around me such as classmates, family, and friends. The best source of feedback will be the members of my Toastmasters group. The Toastmasters program is designed to give feedback. The easiest and most effective follow up would be to

continue participating in Toastmasters even after I feel that the improvements have already occurred. The second objective on my individual learning plan is to gain the necessary academic skills needed to start my own business. The academic program in the EMBA program contains the courses that will provide me with the skills necessary to start my own business. I will need to learn the most possible from each course with an emphasis on the areas of finance, economics, entrepreneurship, negotiations, and strategic

management. The biggest obstacle to my successful completion of this objective will be


the difficulty of the coursework and the challenge I will have returning to an academic environment after over fifteen years. While I will not be able to take any concrete steps toward starting any business, I can begin laying the groundwork during the program. In addition, as part of my academic growth I can also pursue any opportunities I have to network and take advantage of opportunities to further develop my industry contacts. My desired outcome for the second individual learning plan will be to have the skills necessary to open my own business upon graduation from the EMBA program. The most important action steps will be to take full advantage of the academic program and grow to the greatest extent possible in my business skills. The coaching and feedback I will need will require me to find an academic mentor with an interest in real estate or entrepreneurship. The

mentor would help to keep me on track, the best measurement of which being academic success, in my coursework and provide feedback on my work and performance where necessary. The best follow up to this would be to continue taking courses that supported my business endeavors after I graduated and to continually monitor the success of my business with my mentor. My third objective on my Individual learning plan is to become better able to spot the warning signs of destructive goal pursuit in groups or in myself, and learn to head off a problem situation before it seriously disrupts or destroys the project.


In order to successfully learn to spot the warning signs of destructive goal pursuit I need to learn to more carefully to structure the goals and agenda for myself and/or a project so that the situation does not arise where I lose sight of what is necessary to be accomplished and how to accomplish it to succeed personally and in team projects. Being able to spot the warning signs of destructive goal pursuit would benefit me in both academic projects as well as in my career. Being able to

avoid being in this situation again would greatly benefit me, both in the projects I complete during the EMBA program, but also in my career. The desired outcome for this individual learning plan is to learn the signs of destructive goal pursuit and to act to avoid pursuing them, instead reassessing my personal or team goals toward goals that are not damaging to myself or my team personally, academically, or professionally. The action steps that I need to undertake to learn to avoid destructive goal pursuit in groups or in myself will be to strengthen my goal setting skills with an emphasis on learning not to engage in the single minded pursuit of one goal, to learn to stress open communication with my team, seeking frequent feedback on my goals, to learn to develop truly empowered teams that can provide effective feedback, and to gain the discipline of regular updating of goals and progress. I believe that my teammates will be uniquely positioned to give me needed feedback when I make an error in helping to choose goals for the team.


The best measurement and follow up for me is to honestly record each time that I take a step that could be considered pursuit of a destructive goal.