Hello, ESPers worldwide!
Welcome to this first TESOL Blog post on the professional communication of ESP project leaders! In what follows, you will be able to read the profile of Kristin Ekkens. In addition, you will be able to interact with her directly.
These ESP project leader profiles are described (in an email sent to me) by Karen Schwelle at Washington University in St. Louis as “a nice way to communicate what we do and offer practical, experience-based advice for fellow ESPers around the world.” I agree, and I also think we can learn something about how ESP professionals use communication to achieve success.
Kristin’s responses to the two questions below reminded me of why I began to conduct research on the leadership conceptualization process 6 years ago. Specifically, I wanted to understand why leaders were so successful.
In this blog post, we are able to understand why Kristin, an ESP professional, has been successful. Further, we gain insights into how she achieved that success.
I view such success as a “creation” that was accomplished with professional communication. By reading Kristin’s responses, we begin to see how we, too, can “create” professional success.
In addition to the above, we can learn how an ESP professional such as Kristin constructs her professional image for the various stakeholders reading this blog post. It is my hope that our own professional performances will be enhanced by reading Kristin’s responses.
Define leadership in your own words.
- Leaders are people who know how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way. Culturally intelligent leaders are self-aware and driven to learn about others; they continuously look for ways to build knowledge; they listen to others and check assumptions; and finally, they know when and how to take action, adapting their behaviors when necessary. Leadership is empowering others to do the same.
Tell me an ESP project success story. Focus on your communication as a leader in the project. How did you communicate with stakeholders to make that project successful?
- Industry: Healthcare System in the United States
- Project Request: Create a skills development program for both native and nonnative speakers of English that 1) is offered organization-wide, in various departments, and involving multiple geographic locations, 2) addresses both general and job-specific skills (such as foundational computer skills, English language skills, and health and safety issues), and 3) encourages participation by avoiding the negative stigma around low-literacy and essential workplace skills.
- Deliverable: A 50-page report and executive summary. Sections included the following: Background, Purpose & Strategy, Data Collection, Results, Key Recommendations, Pilot Program Overview, The Business Case, Next Steps
- Outcome: Within 6 months of presenting the report as an external consultant, I was hired as an internal learning and development consultant for the Inclusion & Diversity Center of Expertise to create and implement an overall inclusion & diversity learning strategy for the organization of 23,000 employees. We plan to implement this project in the near future as our team expands.
- Inclusion & Diversity team (director, manager, workplace program specialist)
- Human Resources staff (business consultant & organizational psychologist)
- Business Unit leaders & employees (director, managers, supervisors, employees in Nutritional Services & Environmental Services)
- Key to Project Success: Successful communication at all levels. I believe this project was successful largely because our project team worked closely together to achieve goals and inspire people along the way. My role was to listen to stakeholders at all levels (find the challenges and root causes), to inspire key stakeholders to take action (pilot new learning solutions), and to empower leaders with the tools and strategies they needed to courageously move forward, creating a more inclusive workplace.
- How did I communicate with the stakeholders?
- Listened to perspectives of all stakeholders using a variety of methods (focus groups, surveys, 1:1 meetings).
- Clearly articulated the vision, process, and framework to key stakeholders using visuals as well as written and oral communication methods.
- Provided efficient and effective follow-up to questions and concerns.
- What was the result?
- I believe the result of this strong communication at various levels and in various ways helped build trust, strengthen interdepartmental relationships, and contribute to higher levels of innovation and problem solving.
I am very grateful to Kristin for volunteering to be the first ESP project leader introduced through the TESOL Blog. In the months to follow, you can expect to read at least one ESP project leader profile per month.
Do you have questions or comments for Kristin? Please feel free to post those in the Comments section below. In this connection, I hope that some lively exchanges among ESPers occur as we share with and learn from each other worldwide!
All the best,