Timing is Everything.
Debra McClendon, Data Shift Manager for Toyota Motor Sales, entered the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program at Biola University after researching other graduate school options.
"The first classes in the MOL sequence taught us about ourselves, and the impact we can have as leaders, both negatively and positively," says Debra. "Immediately, I encountered a situation at work which had the potential to be destructive, but I was able to apply what I had learned, and fortunately turn the situation into a positive.
"Early on in the program we were taught to examine ourselves. I came to grips with who I was and whether or not I was going to change myself to get along with others to make a difference, not only in the corporate culture at Toyota, but also in the lives of others."
Debra received a promotion at Toyota, and was frequently called upon in management meetings to share her expertise in leading her staff, which fell in line with her next set of classes in learning about who the followers are. She was able to help other managers lead their teams.
"Since I had already decided the type of leader I was going to be, I could therefore move forward in this process of leadership and help other managers develop their followers," Debra explained. "My new team was constantly being put down, so I stuck up for them. How can we expect others to respond the way we want them to, and in the way they are capable of, if we have not taken responsibility ourselves and given them what they need to do their job?
"Based on the model we learned in the classroom, I taught others how to change the attitudes of people to get the results they need. You don't try to change the attitude first, you change the values. Values change the attitude. Attitude changes the behavior."
Debra experienced additional opportunities to immediately apply classroom learning to in the workplace. In fact, many of the papers written for class assignments were submitted to her management team in order to affect change.
"When I was in Organization Development, I put on my 'O.D. consultant' hat. When I was in Strategic Management, I produced a strategic planning model - exactly the same strategic plan I turned in to my manager. Same for my marketing class."
"It was so crystal clear that things were matching up for me that I developed an expectant attitude when I registered for my classes. I could not wait to see what God was planning and how I could apply it!"
One of Debra's favorite lessons came from adjunct professor Ron Smedley.
"Ron said, 'A leader who takes a step outside the door and turns around to see that no one is following is just a person taking a walk.' I didn't want to be a person just taking a walk.
"Success is a result of character, and that is the cornerstone of my experience
in the MOL program."