Introduction the School’s academic program and providing general leadership



            I interviewed Dr. Billinda
Tebbenhoff for this paper. She is the Associate Dean, for the Division of
Undergraduate Studies and an instructor with office located at Virginia Science
and Technology Campus. She attended Radford University where she got her BSN,
University of Virginia for her MSN degree and the Johns Hopkins University
where she graduated with a DNP. Dr. Tebbenhoff has taught in higher education
for more than a decade and specializes in the scholarship of teaching and
learning. Prior to her career in nursing education, she was a researcher at the
National Institutes of Health studying the association of infection and autoimmunity
and psychopathology in children and adolescents. She has been a leader for five
years now. As an associate dean, Dr. Tebbenhoff is responsible for supervising
the School’s academic program and providing general leadership and oversight
for all academic activities. She also oversees course curriculum development in
collaboration with relevant School committees and the course directors. She supervises
adjunct faculty, lecturers and units providing support for students. Her position
as a leader made her a good fit for my interview and some topics we addressed
are discussed below.

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Leading Teams


Dr. Tebbenhoff has a large team under her management. Behind
the success of this team is her ability to communicate efficiently, welcome
constructive feedback and, maintains great team work. As a transformational
leader, she indicated that the leadership style she implements is based on the
situation she and her team are facing at the moment, (Melnyk &
Fineout-Overholt, 2015). She indicated that, her success in this area is also
from her ability to “disconnect, not to take the role too seriously and, avoid
making disapprovals personal or tries not to put myself first”. She mentioned a
great challenge earlier in her career in this domain when she was looking for everyone’s
approval. She now admits that, it is unrealistic but, okay for a leader not to
be liked by all.  As a transformational
leader, she is empathetic, expects high performances from her employees and
believes that, “most people really want to do a good job”. She finds integrity,
communication, and problem-solving ability as an essential tool in any
successful leadership,
(Delgado, & Mitchell, 2016;2015;).




Leaders are often thought to be creative thinkers with the ability to
generate or implement innovative ideas that can help move the organization
forward. As a leader, one may either choose to ignore these innovative ideas
and continue leading the organization the way it is, or embrace the innovation
and carry the organization towards these new experiences. Innovation has
increased competition amongst organizations, and has led to increase in
productivity using newer technology and evidenced based research. “Innovation
Leadership involves adopting certain styles of leadership in organizations to
influence employees to produce innovative ideas, products and solutions”. Dr.
Tebbenhoff indicated that, as a leader she has more information than her
followers which enable her to reduce certain complexities by using this
information to bring together her followers in the pursuit of innovation. As a
transformational leader, through idealized influence, she also shares the risk
of innovative actions with followers thereby enabling, and empowering them to
challenge existing management processes, practices, or structures which in return
can bring positive change to the organization (Vaccaro, Jansen, Van, Frans
& Volberda, 2012).




Being able to manage emotions has been shown to be one of the
main characteristic of an effective leader, (Erez, Misangyi, Johnson, LePine,
& Halverson, 2008). Emotional competence according to Daniel Goleman involves
“the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for
motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our
relationships”, (Wang, Wilhite, & Martino, 2016). Dr. Tebbenhoff, indicated
that emotions may sometimes pose as a challenge, or affect a leader’s ability
to efficiently decide. For example, like many leaders, she sees and treats her
followers separately as a whole human being. If a staff is not doing a good
job, instead of looking at the quality of the work done she looks at other
factors that may have influenced that staff’s performance such as
stress/illness, family crisis, bereavement and others, before going forth to
take an action. She indicated that putting your feet in your followers’ shoes
may help you understand what they are going through, however, a frequent self-assessment
and acknowledgement of your strength and weaknesses enables you to see the
effect your emotions may have on others. While it is hard not to be emotional, a
leader must remain professional and this should not prevent them from doing
their job because we must be accountable for our actions.


Crisis Management


Effective crisis management requires good leadership skills
because the lack of these skills may lead to inadequate management of crisis
which can be detrimental to the organization or followers. Like Dr. Tebbenhoff,
in addition to Kapucu & Ustun (2017), crisis management
entails a lot of “inter-organizational collaboration and leadership skills”. Crisis
to some extent can be a test of a leader’s ability and the way a leader
addresses it says a lot about his or her competence. While crisis management
can be a challenge in an organization, it may help the leader assess the
effectiveness of his or her current strategy. As a result, it may detect if
improvement is needed or, the strategy needs to be abandoned all together. According
to Kapucu & Ustun (2017), crises may create a sensitive environment where
leaders may have to make sudden and effective decisions using limited
information which as a result, “emotions and instincts may quite easily
override intellect and logic”. They however went forth to ascertain that,
leaders need to reduce this impact or prevent it from happening by taking a
number of measures prior to, during and, after any crisis.




            Spirituality is a significant part not just in leadership and
success but, is a commitment that many should consider. Dr. Tebbenhoff
indicated that spirituality is one of the reasons why she has been very successful
as a leader. She believes that though as a leader she has a supervisor, they
both are being subjected to a supernatural being who watches over all what they
do and to whom she believes she will someday give account to. She thinks that
incorporating spirituality to her work has help bring more meaning to her life.
As stated in Bolman & Deal (2011; pg. 21), “Spirit and faith are the core
of human life. Without them, you lose your way. You live without zest. You go
through motions, but do not know why.” The concept of spirituality has been
linked by many to religion but, irrespective of these interpretations, leaders
must be very knowledgeable and aware of how important spirituality is to their
followers. Like Dr. Tebbenhoff, “many people have a spiritual practice and rely
on it to help them succeed as leaders and work effectively with colleagues,”
(Wheatley, 2002; Pg. 21). Spirituality in workplace has been shown to be very
beneficial because, it can lead to a greater perception of trust, increase
output, improve organizational support and create a greater sense of commitment
among employees.


Change and Conflict


Unlike the International
Journal of Conflict Management, that believes that, avoiding conflict can
be a way through which leaders resolve conflicts, Dr. Tebbenhoff strongly feels
all conflicts brought to a leader’s attention should be addressed. Reasons
being that, unresolved conflicts sometimes can be damaging and may negatively
influence output by reducing productivity or lead to litigations. Conflicts are
a normal occurrence at a workplace if it is constructive because, constructive
conflicts can lead to changes that may positively enhance growth and foster organizational
development. These conflicts can sometimes occur from followers disagreeing among
themselves or disagreeing to the leader’s decision and vice versa. While it may
sometimes be difficult to reach an amicable agreement, Dr. Tebbenhoff admitted
to going with the majority. According to Yang, 2014, a leader’s goal “is to
create a suitable work environment and implement change initiatives by being
receptive to disagreements, facilitating communication and inspiring confidence
for the attainment of a common goal”. Dr. Tebbenhoff indicated that after
conflict, comes change and we can always grow from conflicts.




Transformational coach is one that identifies and
communicates vision and values and asks for the involvement of the workgroup to
achieve the vision, (Rivers, Pesata, Beasley, & Dietrich, 2011). A leader
with knowledge of transformational coaching can be of great influence on the realization
of the organization mission, based on her ability to work in close
collaboration with her followers to make sure that, resources needed to achieve
these goals are obtained in order to reach these goals in a collaborative
manner. As a great coach, Dr. Tebbenhoff indicated that she tries to be
approachable, welcoming, resourceful, and as a result of her connections, she
has more information than her followers which helps facilitate the realization
of these goals. Along with her team, they share good practices and engage in
executive trainings to improve success.




            It was an honor to interview Dr.
Tebbenhoff. She is very enthusiastic about her role as a leader, empowering her
followers and helping them to be the best they possibly can. It was an amazing
experience for me, since she had so much to offer as a leader during our
interview. By the time I walked out of her office, I felt so optimistic about
my endeavors, and convinced that I can handle any leadership position offered
to me. My discussion with her went beyond writing my assignment. I believe she
made me psychologically and intellectually ready for any leadership role. She indicated
that leadership is knowledge and with the knowledge and skills acquired here, I
can lead any team.