HNP Guardians Meet for Leadership Workshop

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — Through presentations and group discussions, priorities were determined last month for Holy Name Province’s leadership needs. They will be discussed at the next meeting of HNP’s Leadership Development Committee (LDC).

The Province’s guardians met March 19 at the Provincial Office on West 31st Street to review results of the self-reflection survey completed last fall by the leaders of the Province.

Roughly 50 friars participated in the self-reflection questionnaire, developed by consulting firm Axiom Consulting Partners, which had worked with the Province since the spring of 2008. The Provincial Administration distributed the self-reflection tool as a way to encourage friars to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to guardians, the self-reflection was completed by pastors, ministry directors and Provincial Council members.

Evaluating Leadership Needs
The goals of the recent gathering, whose theme was Advancing Leadership Development, were to:
• Review and understand the recommendations of the LDC
• Evaluate lessons from the self-reflection process
• Prioritize recommendations for leadership development

The facilitators of the meeting were Francis Gunn, OFM, HNP’s coordinator for strategic planning, and Dominic Perri, a consultant to the Province in its strategic planning process.

Both emphasized to attendees the importance of leadership, reminding guardians that leadership development is part of HNP’s strategic plan.

Francis summarized the feedback that Axiom presented to the Provincial Council at its January meeting. He said that the report shows friars are “open to thinking about leadership as a calling,” and described the key findings, including the fact that friars who completed the reflection identified a comprehensive list of their perceived foundational leadership skill gaps. He also said friars consistently identified several qualities as their leadership strengths: empowering, listening and building teams. Francis also described samples of targeted learning opportunities.

Perri emphasized that the gathering was not meant to be “just a presentation, but an opportunity for dialog.” He said: “You’re the ideal group to give input to the Provincial Council. What you do today gets passed on to the Council members for their decisions.”

Much of the day included interactive sessions. Friars were encouraged to voice their opinions about leadership needs.

One participant said: “We’re all leaders. As soon as we put on the habit, we are seen as leaders.”  Another said, “All friars need to be leaders and animators in their fraternities.”

Prioritizing Plans
At tables of six, the friars discussed case studies, analyzing representative situations involving leadership weaknesses and offered potential solutions. The friars also discussed how they would prioritize the need for enhanced focus on leadership in four categories:
• Leadership assignments
• Ongoing leader formation (workshops and the like)
• Initial formation
• Mentoring

Francis said: “The guardians felt that they had received ample information about the leadership development initiative. They generally supported all of the recommendations and, by the end of the day, were able to give feedback about priorities.” The guardians recommended focus be placed on leadership assignments and ongoing formation.

During the workshop, friars shared opinions about a variety of facets of leadership. One guardian suggested the need to acknowledge leaders as they complete roles, by possibly “recognizing accomplishments.” Another suggested hiring a Provincial resource person to coordinate leadership needs.

Another friar said that the “goal is not to make all friars ideal, but to develop the potential of all friars.” Several friars voiced the suggestion that friars be encouraged to take leadership classes, and several echoed the value of mentoring less experienced friars. One participant suggested establishing a formal mentoring program for guardians. Another suggested the Province consider “training the formators.”

“Providing an opportunity for friars to voice their opinions was important to the Council,” said Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM.

At an April 2 meeting, members of the Leadership Development Committee will meet at the Provincial Office to discuss how to effectively put into action the Province’s leadership development priorities.

— Jocelyn Thomas is the Province’s director of communications.