Lina Paredes and the Three R’s of Leadership
New Haven, Connecticut, is a city of many contrasts. Some of the best-educated people in the world live there, and yet the state has the greatest achievement gap in the nation. New Haven has been reported as the fourth most dangerous city in the nation, and yet is home to Yale University, one of the best universities in the country. The result is many social issues for the residents to grapple with.
I’m a diehard (former) New Havenite (tenure of six years). The restaurants, the pizza, Wooster Square Park, and the many artists there make it a colorful and beautiful city. The question of how we solve these issues is dear to my heart.
Enter Courageous Community (CC), a fellowship program sponsored by Bill and Jean Graustein. The vision of the fellowship is to further develop the leadership skills of established change makers in the New Haven area so that they can have a greater impact in the community.
We’ve talked before how leadership advances health equity. How can leadership solve other social issues?
The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health)’s Vice President of Program, Lina Paredes, is a participant in the intense, ten-month program consisting of four sets of three-day immersions into leadership skill building and practice. The fellows have access to individual coaching sessions and meet between each session in groups of three to share their challenges, and push each other to work through them. Lina and I (Jenn) sat together to talk about the answer to this question.
Lina: Courageous leadership is about using my strengths to their utmost. Heidi Brooks, Ph.D. CC’s founder and primary leader, talks about leading from Rigor, Relationship, or Relevance. We each use a combination of these three, but we each have a mode that comes more easily and naturally to us.
Someone who operates predominantly from Rigor focuses on results. A Relationship orientation focuses on making and using connections to accomplish goals. Honing in on Relevance elevates the value of the broader context in decision making – it’s about the big picture.
My natural inclination is to lead from Relationship, but I’ve learned that if I’m distressed, I’ll lead from Rigor, in a reactionary, bull-dozing kind of way. “I just need to get it done!” And where can I go from reaction? This is something I’m working on.
Jenn: How is the program benefiting you personally?
Lina: I’m definitely learning new skills and I have been inspired to usefully question my own leadership effectiveness. It helps me think about “What role do I want to play in a particular situation? How do I infuse my core values in the words I speak or the actions I take?” The practice of doing this requires me to try new strategies and take more risks with the goal of continuously strengthening my own leadership capacity.
Jenn: How is your involvement benefiting the city of New Haven?
Lina: My hope is that I can use all my skills to positively impact the entire state, given that CT Health is committed to statewide systems change. In the spirit of expanding our Hartford tentacles, CT Health has joined The Grove, a co-working and collaborative space for community professionals, to increase our presence in New Haven. As a resident of the Elm City, I am getting involved locally so that I can better understand the challenges and opportunities – I joined a development committee with IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) to plan activities for World Refugee Day; I have supported Solar Youth, an organization that teaches young children in the projects about the environment, and I just joined the board of Youth Rights Media. This, of course, is just the beginning.