Chapter 08: An Evolving Focus on Leadership Development

Title

Chapter 08: An Evolving Focus on Leadership Development

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Description

In this chapter, Ms. Yadiny discusses the series of positions she held that solidified her focus on leadership development. She first talks about her work at the Houston Academy of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center Library ('79 - '90) where she did staff development programming and came to love working with leadership issues. She describes this as a "turning point in her life." She describes the positive work situation and the experience in leadership development she gained. [The recorder is paused.] Next, Ms. Yadiny talks about her work at the University of Michigan in communications ('90 - '99). She was able to complete a year-long "Planned Change Internship" that enhanced her skills. She talks about meeting Larry Lippitt, whose at the time work provided a basis for the understanding of organization development and how individuals behave within groups.

Identifier

YadinyJA_01_20160222_C08

Publication Date

2-22-2016

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - Professional Path; Mentoring; Leadership; Personal Background

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Janis Apted Yadiny:

So, then I ended up working at the library here, which was a good thing, because I had a fabulous boss who was Richard Lyders was his name, L-Y-D-E-R-S. Richard Lyders was in his late thirties I guess, I was 30 years old. Most of my colleagues were around my age, early thirties, and he was a wonderful boss and he loved leadership and management, and he was a student of leadership and management. So they hired me in as personnel librarian and before you knew it, I was doing staff development.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What is a personnel librarian, tell me about that.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

We do all the human resources management stuff, and so I designed, I introduced and designed a staff development program, which everyone loved, and that’s how I sort of started on the whole development thing. What time is it by the way?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

It’s just about five minutes of three. Do you want to stop now? Okay, let’s just take a quick break, it is five minutes of three, as I just said. [pause in recording]

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

There we go, we are recording again, it’s about one minute after three or so. So I’m glad that you’re stitching things together in a new way.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

I guess I hadn’t noticed that I have informed my life, really.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Lives are interesting things.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah. I’ll have to do some writing about it.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Cool. Are you a writer in addition?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Journaling, let’s put it that way, and inconsistent. I used to be very consistent, but no longer. I don’t find myself as interesting any more.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

That may be a mark of health, you never know.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

You know, I get to the point where I started saying you are just too self-absorbed you have to stop this. Close the journal.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Close the journal, right move on. Funny. Well, we were in the midst of the conversation about your work with the human resources support.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Oh yeah, so then I got into this—this did change my life, working for Richard Lyders, and I worked for him for nine years or ten years or whatever, but he invested in his young staff, professional staff. I came to the United States with the usual superiority complex, thinking oh, I’m going to be so much smarter and better educated than they are. Holy smoke, wow, all my colleagues were Stanford, UC Berkeley, Oberlin. They were fabulous at what they did and they were really professional, really good, and I learned a lot from them and I had to pretend that I was better than I was. But what I was good at, that my boss liked was, he said I always had an eye on the world, so he loved that. But he put money behind it, so he sent us to training and workshops and stuff and he invested in us. This was new to me, I mean the World Health Organization didn’t do any of that, certainly the Royal Society of Medicine didn’t, McGill University didn’t. Nobody had any money. In the ‘70s, all those institutions were broke, I mean they were running on pennies, you know. But he invested money in us and sent us off and got us new training, and it was fabulous, and we grew together as a team and he had us meet together. He was into management by objective, so we all had our objectives and blah-blah-blah.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I don’t even know what that is.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

That was a fad back in the ‘70s, Peter Drucker, Management By Objectives. That’s why I kind of, I am a little caustic about management and leadership fads; they come and go. Now, management by objectives has remained solid, but we’ve moved on from there.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Now, I’m sorry to ask this, you know, so you, there are people who go to school to be leadership specialists and all that, and you’re not quite an autodidact in that area, but it was something, it was a career that was built partially because of synchronicity, being in the right place at the right time, finding Richard Lyders, who had this interest and was really proactive about supporting staff. So how, you know, did—what was the point at which you said okay, this is what I’m doing and I am now going to really create myself as this kind of professional, or maybe that never happened. Uh-oh, we’re checking the time.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

No, my husband’s green card got here today, that’s fantastic, okay. That’s perfect.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What, it’s not all about me? No, I’m kidding.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It means he can go back, and then come back.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And then come back, well cool, congratulations.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Great, oh fabulous, he will be so thrilled.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Good milestones, that’s cool. No wonder you were very attentive to your phone and the messages coming through.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Oh, fabulous, that’s such good news.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Excellent.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Bit by bit, by I had no idea. Okay, actually, my job at University of Michigan, I was director of communications and public relations, for all 14 libraries, massive library of eight million volumes and stuff full of PhD specialists. Again, I learned a ton. I had no idea that these centers for East Asian studies and centers for Eastern European studies, were developed after World War II, to train CIA people, so that’s what they were. They were Cold War centers, and this whole business of these special centers in research universities in the United States was for that purpose, to give them a language and cultural skills, to be able to infiltrate those countries and work there and spy there and do everything that they were doing there. So again, you know, I wasn’t great at the communications stuff. I was good enough. I did a few really brilliant things that were beautiful. I did the best little publication I’d ever done, because I found two people to work with outside of University of Michigan, who were really turned on by the way I sold the project, and came in and gave it their best, and we did a fabulous piece.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What was this project?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It was just a brochure on the library, but it was—I picked it up the other day, I have it in my office, and I went, Wow.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

It stands the test of time?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It is fabulous, fabulous, and actually, I can use it as a model for our Leadership Development brochure. So, I got to play and do things, but I was bored with the job primarily, but I sold my dean on sending me to this program called the Planned Change Internship, and how I found out about it was through… I don’t know how I found out about it. There were a couple of things I did there. The Planned Change Internship was run by Larry Lippitt, L-I-P-P-I-T-T, and his wife, Sylvia Carter. Sylvia had been the associate dean of the school of social work I believe, at McGill. I didn’t know where at McGill. Larry was the son of Ronald Lippitt, and Ronald and Gordon Lippitt were two of the big organization development gurus in the country. Now, Ron was dead by then, but I didn’t know any of this. I had worked in the UN and I’d been in change projects and you know, there I was, in Egypt and in Morocco, and I was in Tunisia, and I was supposed to be the change engine. When I think about it, it’s ridiculous, but anyway there I was, and the Planned Change Internship was really all about the theory of how you do whole scale change, and it was based on—you’ll love this, this is another thing that’s just popped out for me—the theories of Kurt Lewin, who came from Nazi Germany in the ‘30s, ended up at MIT, determined to figure out Nazism had happened, what the power dynamics were, that everybody voted for this schmuck leader and that this Holocaust had occurred and everything else that had happened, and he wanted to know what the heck was that all about. His grad student was Ron Lippitt.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, interesting.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

So, they came up with, Ron Lippitt, and I don’t know if Kurt Lewin—Kurt Lewin died in the last ‘40s or early ‘50s, I believe, but Lippitt did his PhD with him, and Lippitt and some of these other guys set up National Training Labs, and National Training Labs set up, either they started or they were associated with the first encounter groups, in the 1950s. The encounter groups were three weeks long. People took that much time out of their lives to go to encounter groups, and encounter groups were all about who are you anyway and what do you know about yourself.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Right.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

And how can you authentically interact with other people. It was tough sledding in counter groups.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well I was going to say, it’s exhausting to do that work.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

But imagine three weeks?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Three weeks, that’s what I’m saying, you’d be mush at the end.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

I don’t know if you’d have an ego left, do you think? I mean, what identity would you have left after you’ve gone through all this? But anyway, so encounter groups shrunk to three days or whatever. Tavistock Centre took up a lot of this work. It became the foundational work of what became organization development. Group dynamics was part of it, surveying, demographic surveying, the big surveys and all this, but also studying human behavior. It was all about human behavior and how do we act when we’re in front of power and when we feel powerless and when we feel like we have power, all of that was part of it, and so this year-long training, Planned Change Internship, put me in front of people who know all the theory. One of them was Kathie Dannemiller, who had started Dannemiller Tyson Associates. Kathie had worked in the Episcopal Church with Ron Lippitt. He was at University of Michigan, I guess. She was in the Episcopal Church. Talk about an autodidact. I think the woman just had a bachelors degree, but she was one of the most powerful women I’ve ever met in my life, and she was in her mid-seventies, early seventies, when I met her, and she would walk into a room with her cane and she took over. I mean, she had one of those huge presences, very spiritual, that just filled the room. I mean, she could be a bitch, you know tough and full of herself, but she knew it. She did these big contracts with like Ford Motor, when Jacques Nasser was head of Ford Motor and he was known to be a real bastard leader, and she walked in there with her cane and said, “So how long do you want to keep being a bastard? You want to learn how to manage people and manage this or do you want to keep on the way you are?” But she had the presence to do it, no self-doubt about what she knew about people and what people wanted to work for was they wanted to be asked to participate in developing and designing the work of the group, and fully engaged, and so she said get everybody in the room, and she would do retreats with 2,000 people and a bazillion flipcharts, and she’d have everybody committing, signing up, you know I want to work on this and this. So she had all the tactics for change. So I did that year-long, it was foundational for me.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

It was a year?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, and it was on weekends and nights.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Very interesting.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

And I loved it and I still have my big binder of stuff.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

How cool. I hate to do this but it’s quarter after and I’m going to have to close this off for today. But no, I’m really glad you told the story about that. Let’s plan on going back to that moment, because it sounds like there is more to get out of that moment.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

All right, cool, oh yes there is. I need to pull out the binder and have a look.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well let me just say for the record, thank you.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

You’re welcome, thank you.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

A pleasure. I am turning off the recorder about thirteen minutes after three.

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Chapter 08: An Evolving Focus on Leadership Development

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