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  • 28 May 2020 10:00 AM | Anonymous
    • For many people right now, the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus has turned their professional work world upside down. People have moved from office settings to at home set ups. Quiet spaces can be hard to find, and many might be feeling the lack of camaraderie or companionship that comes with the workspace structure. In times like this, it can be especially challenging to show up as a leader.

      So, in our current socially-distanced world, how do you practice leadership?

      We recently asked some of our Global Leadership League volunteers and board members to share advice on leadership during these times of transition and uncertainty. Their answers offered great insights and varied just as much as all the individuals that shared them. Here is what they had to say…

      “What is one tip you would share about applying leadership in these times of transition? What is one idea you are utilizing that you think others could benefit from?”

    • 1.  Try to utilize and stay inspired by your organization’s mission when making tough decisions as a leader in this time.

    • 2.  Transparency and vulnerability first – it’s important that your team knows that it is OK to not be OK during these uncertain times and that we are all experiencing discomfort. This opens up lines of comfort and builds strong bonds. Mistakes will happen, things will slip as we have heightened stress, but we will get through it if we are vulnerable and open with each other.

    • Consider Radical Candor by Kim Scott or Dare to Lead by Brene Brown for good leadership books on the topic of vulnerability and transparency.

    • 3.  A simple one perhaps, but important in the current situation. Be grateful. Our teams are working hard – often sacrificing sleep or juggling family – to meet work expectations.  This is a new norm and a simple, kind gesture of appreciation can make all the difference.

    • 4.     Slow down! I see so many people rushing to 'prove' that they are still working as hard, or even harder than ever before. Mistakes and knee-jerk reactions are not what is needed now, but rather cool, calm, collected and informed decision making.

    • 5.     Remember to focus on values as the driver of decision-making. I try to let go of what I thought I would be working on and instead ask myself every day what is most important for me to work on that will support my organization, my team, and our stakeholders.

    • I re-read this poem regularly: 

    • There is no controlling life.

    • Try corralling a lightning bolt,

    • containing a tornado.  Dam a

    • stream and it will create a new

    • channel.  Resist, and the tide

    • will sweep you off your feet.

    • Allow, and grace will carry

    • you to higher ground.  The only

    • safety lies in letting it all in –

    • the wild and the weak; fear,

    • fantasies, failures and success.

    • When loss rips off the doors of

    • the heart, or sadness veils your

    • vision with despair, practice

    • becomes simply bearing the truth.

    • In the choice to let go of your

    • known way of being, the whole

    • world is revealed to your new eyes.

    • ~ Danna Faulds

    • 6.     “Grace" is my new norm and I am applying grace in the following ways:  1) If someone doesn't answer me right away or in a timely fashion my usual assumption is "What are they doing don't they know this is important!" But now I am saying "Okay, they have family to deal with and are most likely waiting until they can get a quiet moment for a thoughtful reply vs something from their phone."  This has proven to be true. 2) I work even harder to set mutually acceptable deadlines and really ask myself "Is it that urgent or am I just thinking it is urgent?" before I hold someone to a task.  They have a lot to contend with including spotty internet so it may take more time. 3) Finally, I am applying grace when I see them on Zoom and they don't look happy or excited.  Life is draining right now and endless zoom meetings are as boring and complicated as endless meetings in an office.  I always try to start with a meme, joke, or get everyone to share something and then people loosen up.  I know they cannot always be thrilled with their life and the work in this new environment. That’s my word of the month - GRACE.

    • 7.     The most effective approach I am taking is understanding colleagues with childcare / elder parents, or households that are challenging for working from home. Knowing my colleagues and the teams I work with, we have been very flexible about work schedules- not setting any deadlines that are unrealistic and asking each other to work around our availability. Flexibility has been key. For example, it is 9:40 pm where I live and I am starting my work day as I just put my son to sleep. Leadership has to be about understanding every individual's personal challenges right now and being fully aware of their home lives and providing as much support around this as possible.

    • 8.     I am watching my partner’s team “guess” at what their leader is “implying” but seems unwilling to put in writing. It is causing stress, phone calls, text messages, etc., all filled with misinformation and hearsay. Strong leadership is absent in this situation. In an alternative scenario, there would be an outline of expectations complete with steps on how to complete the tasks, etc. This may not feel like leadership, but in times of crisis – and this is a crisis – leaders must also be strong managers.

    If you are interested in learning about different leadership opportunities, communities, and conversations, consider joining the Global Leadership League now for a special discounted price.* Learn more here about joining The League. Additionally, our League volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization and we couldn’t do it without them. If you are interested in volunteering with The League, learn more here.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

    *50% off all memberships, both individual and group. This is a limited time offer, good through April, 2021.

  • 10 Apr 2020 10:00 AM | Anonymous
    • There has been SO MUCH going on in our world lately with the pandemic spread of the Coronavirus and COVID-19. Our schedules and day to day activities have been turned on their heads and finding our new daily normal can feel overwhelming.

      During these periods of transition and uncertainty the brain needs time to recuperate and relax. Are you giving yourself the permission to take care of YOU? You should be.

      STOP trying to behave as if everything is normal and that your life and productivity should carry on as such. These are strange times and creating the space to take care of yourself is important- don’t snub the self-care. As well, taking a detox from the constant barrage of news and social media can be essential. Give yourself permission to take that time in the morning or in the evening, an hour a day, or whatever it is that you need for true self-care. Allow yourself to focus on just you for that moment. We promise, the things that are driving you crazy will still be there after you’re done.

       We wanted to share a few self-care ideas that we here at the Global Leadership League are utilizing ourselves to stay healthy and stay sane. These can be done no matter where in the world you find yourself.

    • Go for a walk, do yoga, or simply stretch. (10 Simple Yoga Exercises to Stretch and Strengthen)
    • Read a chapter of a new book or read a chapter of your favorite book.
    • Go outside and sit in the sunshine for 15 minutes.
    • Watch a mindless 30 min humorous tv show. There are so many streaming platforms now that offer lots of good options!
    • List 5 things you are grateful for at this very moment. Consider listing them out-loud or writing them down. (In Praise of Gratitude)
    • List something you can see, something you can hear, something you can smell, something you can taste and something you can touch at that instant. This is a great practice for grounding yourself in the moment. (30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts)
    • Music is a wonderful distractor and can change your mood! (Why Do We Turn To Music In Times Of Crisis?)
    • Plan for a future vacation. You do NOT need to spend money and you don't need reserve anything. Just take time to explore, plan what you would do if you went, and make fun ideas for the future. (The 12 Best Virtual Vacations You Can Take Without Traveling)
    • Utilize aroma therapy. A hand lotion, scented candle, or oil diffuser can all help to lift your mood and tap into sensory relaxation.
    • Connect with friends and family virtually. Schedule time to Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp, GroupMe or whatever you may use to stay in contact. Time spent connecting with loved ones is always time well spent. Try this type of call away from your desk!

    What other ideas do you have for self-care? Taking care of yourself can look different for every person, but the time and intention behind it is the same for all. We hope all of our friends and colleagues around the world are staying safe and healthy through this new transition in global health.

    Lastly, one of the many resources we offer to our Global Leadership League members are Mentoring Circles. These are a great opportunity to make professional connections virtually (especially while we are all currently quarantined!). We invite you to learn more about Mentoring Circles here.

    For our members who are already familiar with Mentoring Circles, we are launching a (quite timely) new offering starting July 1st, 2020 on “Navigating Change and Uncertainty.” We invite you to learn more here.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 16 Mar 2020 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    Part II

    In this blog series, The Global Leadership League is exploring the topic of work and family dynamics for international educators with aging parents. We spoke with four instructors from around the world for a glimpse into their worlds and families.

    In our first segment of the series, we spoke with Lakshmi Iyer of New Delhi, India. For this second featured international educator, we caught up with Sarah E. Spencer of St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Sarah E. Spencer

    Global Educator, Strategic Initiatives & Special Projects

    St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

    How old are your parents and what are their medical issues?

    My mom passed away in December 2018 after living with multiple sclerosis for 37 years. She was bed bound since 1999 and was in and out of the hospital every winter since 2014. I managed many study-abroad emergencies from the ICU. My father recently turned 80.

    Where do you live and where do they live? Where do you travel for work and how often?

    I live in St. Paul, Minnesota and my parents are based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa here in the United States; it is a 4 ½ hour drive away from my home. In my previous university position, I traveled globally, up to 20% of the time.

    When managing a career in international education and dealing with an aging parent, you need a team of helpers. Whether it is a traditional team, like family, or a non-traditional team like friends and co-workers, who is your team and how do they help you?

    My Rhode Island-based brother and I were lucky that my father was well enough to serve as primary caregiver and my parents were financially able to hire some respite help. As well, I always had consistent support from my university co-workers and friends, and our amazing professional colleagues (at a conference, many would ask first, how’s your mom?), in addition to my partner and my brother. The hardest thing to remember is to say Yes when people offer to help.

    Do you have a contingency plan if you need to attend to your parent?

    As an international educator we always think about emergency response protocols for our student mobility programs, and I realized my professional expertise could support this personal situation. Do I have to lead that site visit or is delegation an option? If I can’t travel, which of the staff can cover? What is the go/no go date? Who else needs to know and what is the communication plan? If I’m on-site, how fast can I get home and what would it cost?

    Do you have any tips or advice for others dealing with similar situations?

    First tip would be always to have a backup plan. If you can’t be there to help your parents, think through who can take your place.

    Second, be conscious of time zones. Make arrangements for when and how you will communicate and choose a time that will work for all parties involved. Luckily, communication is a lot easier and cheaper than it used to be with calling apps like WhatsApp.

    Another tip, purchase trip cancellation insurance for work flights, just in case you have to adjust and reschedule. This might depend on what your organization buys for you or what airline you are flying.

    Lastly, anyone can be considered as a caregiver - from living with a parent to living overseas. A recent Minnesota Public Radio program addressed Caring for the Caregiver, and I highly recommend giving it a listen. You can find a link to the program here.  

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 22 Feb 2020 12:23 PM | Anonymous

    How to keep it together while traveling for work.

    Anyone who works in International Education can tell you that the demands of the job can be rigorous. In a recent blog series, we explore this topic in relation to aging parents.

    But today, we are talking about the demands of the job in a much more physical sense… traveling. People to see, places to be, trains to take, planes to catch. You get the idea.

    When it comes to travel for international educators, there are numerous factors to consider. From leaving their families for extended periods of time to keeping all of the balls up in the air for professional responsibilities both at home and abroad, it can be a lot. Not to mention navigating the packing, physical transportation demands, time zone shifts, and cultural changes. Through all of this, the mind and body can take a beating.

    With all of these pressures and stressors, the urge to hit the ground running when the plane touches down can be a strong one. Lots of international educators fall into the ‘productivity trap’ of tackling as much-as-possible, in as short amount of time-as-possible, in order to turn around and get home as quickly-as-possible.  Additionally, the pressure to be budget conscience and keep the trip to as few nights as needed can compound this productivity impulse. In the long run however, this mindset can be extremely detrimental and result in excessive stress, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation.

    When faced with the challenges of this travel-based industry, it is important for international educators to create space for self-care and healthy balance. Life is a series of choices and trade-offs, and prioritizing overall well-being now will mean more demands can be met later - avoiding burnout or physical breakdowns such as injuries and illness. As well, today’s modern world luckily offers lots of support and portable comforts for easing these demands.

    Getting good with technology can really be of benefit to educators abroad. For communication with loved ones, there are numerous apps available to help alleviate physical distances. WhatsApp is a platform that offers free international messaging, and platforms such as Google Duo, Skype, or FaceTime offer free video chats. SnapChat can be another great option for sharing special experiences and moments without having to coordinate time zones to be on a call.

    For getting work done while also meeting the demands of a travel schedule, we suggest tapping into some of the wonderful productivity apps and programs that can help. There is a whole slew readily available to help you set schedules, keep track of project developments, and stay in communication with work teams back home. Here is an article about the best productivity apps for 2020.

    Lastly, prioritizing physical health should be a main consideration. Allowing yourself a half day or a day to adjust, acclimate, and take care of yours needs can mean the difference in feeling drained the rest of the trip or feeling ready and reliable. Talk with your manager on budgets before you leave and see if you can add a night at the hotel to accommodate this necessary time for self-care in your schedule. This might also mean skipping a trip to see the historical cathedral for a trip to the gym, or a healthy dinner and an early bed-time instead of that meal out. Just like at home, plenty of sleep and lots water will help keep you going and right on track.

    For international educators the demands can be many and tough. But, with proper consideration and preparation we believe you can be your best wherever in the world you may find yourself. Safe travels!

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.
  • 28 Jan 2020 10:31 AM | Anonymous

    Part I

    A career in international education can be exhilarating. We have the privilege of traveling the world, experiencing other cultures, and meeting new people as part of our job. But, as we age, many of us take on responsibilities that do not co-exist well with these career benefits. The thrill of travel and stepping into different worlds can suddenly feel like a burden when commitments at home begin to stack up.

    One such responsibility international educators may experience is the necessary care for aging or sick parents at home. While this topic is broad and complex, we sought to share some insight into how other instructors balance this work-life dynamic.

    The Global Leadership League spoke with four international educators from around the world about how they balance work and family obligations. Our first educator in the series is Lakshmi Iyer of New Delhi, India.

    Lakshmi Iyer

    Executive Director & Head of Education
    Sannam S4
    New Delhi, India

    How old are your parents and what are their medical issues?

    My parents are in their late 70s. My mother suffers from Meniere’s disease for which there is no cure. We have to manage the condition while dealing with uncertainty and the loss of quality of life. Meniere’s destroys the nerves in the inner ear and causes tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and vertigo. My father acts as the primary caregiver during my mother’s vertigo episodes, which debilitate her for a couple of days.

    Where do you live and where do they live? Where do you travel for work and how often?

    I live in New Delhi, India. My parents live about 4 hours away by plane, in Kerala in the South of India. I travel all around the world for work and typical travel over 16 weeks a year.

    When managing a career in international education and dealing with an aging parent, you need a team of helpers. Whether it’s a traditional team, like family, or a non-traditional team like friends and co-workers, who is your team and how do they help you?

    Recently, my brother and I leased an apartment next door to my flat in Delhi so that my parents can live as independently as possible. My parents now divide their time between India and the United States, where my brother lives, so we take turns in accompanying them on the long journey one way and help share the load of the travel.

    Do you have a contingency plan if something happens to your parent?

    The contingency plan is ‘me’ and being able to be there on short notice in order to support them if the need arises.

    Do you have any tips or advice for others dealing with similar situations?

    Financial resources are paramount. I am fortunate that I share that with my brother. My parents have their pensions as well and are not financially reliant on anyone. I check in on them daily when I am on the road and the fact that my mother is tech savvy is helpful. My father is on Whatsapp, which enables us to see each other and chat.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 11 Dec 2019 1:10 PM | Anonymous

    Power. It can be a scary word, associated with negative connotations like abuse of power or feeling powerless. In higher education, we often shy away from these strong words, as our context is about service to students and the greater community.

    But our organizations need strong leaders who can make decisions and advance the work so how can power be a catalyst for success?   If we learn how to harness it in the right way, we can reach goals and objectives we never thought possible. 

    The Global Leadership League has chosen power as this year’s theme. During the next twelve months, we will celebrate and challenge ourselves to become better leaders in higher education, explore the role power plays in our field and demystify how to gain and use it to lean into established organizational structures instead of shying away from them.

    Power has always been a part of the organizational structure of higher education, playing an essential role in how things are accomplished.  Like a gas pedal, power can be overused or underused, propelling us forward or holding us back.  As leaders, we need to learn how to best use and share our new-found power. Finding a balance can prove challenging, and testing the waters and seeking advice can come at a price. Note - power is not hard-wired to feminine or masculine leadership and yet we need to explore how our gender informs our view of and expression of power.

    We invite you to join the conversation. Becoming a member, attend our 2020 events, learn from one of our webinars or read our new blog. However you choose to engage in the dialogue, we are thrilled to have you.

    Here’s to a powerful year!

    Cynthia Banks

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Our members come from different backgrounds, abilities, levels of experience, and parts of the world. Our goal is to embrace this diversity and encourage relationships across generations and experience levels for the benefit of all involved. 

The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


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The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders.  Become a Member