Kelly Hannum on Leadership Development for Evaluators

I’m Kelly Hannum. I’ve been evaluating leadership development programs for almost two decades. I am convinced that effective leaders and effective evaluators have similar mindsets and employ similar skills.  I encourage leaders to think like evaluators, and via this post I’m encouraging evaluators to think and develop themselves as leaders.

At the Center for Creative Leadership, we say “effective leadership results in shared direction, alignment, and commitment”. Leaders help focus people on defining and achieving something of shared value, but effective leadership is often a collective act.  How often you have worked with diverse stakeholders to create shared direction, alignment, and commitment related to an evaluation? Stakeholders often have different values and perspectives. Our role as evaluators is to effectively and respectfully lead these complex situations in a manner that reflects our Guiding Principles. What does “value” look like from different perspectives? What types of evidence of “value” are appropriate? Our training and experience is a powerful asset, but if left unchecked our assumptions can be a liability. Thinking of, and developing, ourselves as leaders can help us improve our evaluation practice.

Lessons Learned:

Be curious about yourself. Self-awareness is the foundation for being a good leader and for being a good evaluator. Understand your assets and limitations, plan accordingly, and continue to develop yourself. Challenge assumptions that may get in the way of understanding value from different perspectives.  Seek, consider, and apply feedback about yourself.

Be curious about others. Pay attention to other perspectives, that is the foundation for respect and understanding of complex situations. Examine and reexamine perceptions and beliefs, assumptions or stereotypes, about individuals, groups, and even programs and processes. Seek different perspectives and listen with curiosity and openness.

Hot Tip:

Reflect on how you create shared direction, alignment, and commitment. Think about keeping a journal or having informal conversations or debriefs after key meetings.

Most successful development experiences contain elements of assessment, challenge, and support – are you balanced? What do you need to add or reduce?

  • Assess yourself from different perspectives to uncover areas of excellence as well as areas for growth
  • Challenge yourself by learning about and trying new things
  • Get the support you need to be effective

Rad Resources:

Track your reflections using a free online journal like Penzu.

The Leadership Learning Community offers a collection of free leadership development resources including evaluation of leadership development.

The Center for Creative Leadership offers free articles and podcasts. The white papers are particularly helpful.

AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation provides an overview of cultural competence, why it is important, and how to develop it.

Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building is useful to my work.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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