First Impressions

TLG has had interns and graduate research assistants in the office for at least twenty years. We find it a wonderful way not only to get competent, enthusiastic help, but also a way to give back to our profession AND keep up with the “younger generation.”

It seems astounding, but we have never had a bad experience. We have had graduate interns from UGA and undergrad interns from Agnes Scott and Kennesaw. Despite all you read about the millennials, our two most recent additions at TLG, both in their early twenties, have been simply stunning – smart, resourceful, hard-working – and enormously pleasant to work with.

I hope you read the blog post that our new consulting coordinator, Bianca Wirth, wrote in March. Bianca is a recent graduate of the Grady College at UGA – and an excellent writer. Amazingly, she shares that talent with Madison Hanscom, our newest intern. Madison is a recent graduate of Kennesaw State University.

Both share another attribute that seems essential for TLG – a love of learning. You see that in Bianca’s Curiosity blog post, you certainly see it in Madison’s blog post below, and we find that most great leaders share that trait. – Lyn Turknett

My First Impression:

My first impression after spending a few days at TLG: these people love information.

Whether they are acquiring new knowledge or teaching the information themselves, it is clear to me that everyone here shares the mutual interest of learning. During my first two days, I felt fortunate to have accumulated a collection of books, articles, web links, an APA journal, and other printed-out resources to begin the learning process. One of these books was the Strength Finder, and Lyn gave this to me so I could take the assessment to gather insight about my strengths. Interestingly, my top result was ‘learner’. Already this was feeling like a theme that would certainly shape my experience here. I plunged into reading the new information throughout the first few days, particularly the Turknetts’ book, Decent People Decent Company. Not only was I learning, I was learning about learning.

It became clear quickly that leadership and learning go hand-in-hand. It feels seamless to link learning with growth, open-mindedness, perceptiveness, and adaptation. Acquiring knowledge may often lead to positive growth, which in many ways can be described as adaptation. When one learns a superior approach, they are likely to adapt their behavior to garner the reinforcement. Adapting in leadership or in most collaborative environments can illustrate the development of essential skills such as self-efficacy or more realistic thinking. Learning allows us to be open-minded, perceptive, and recognize what traits and behaviors make a good leader. Once this recognition has been made, opening up for change and then adapting is evidence of this learning. This goes much deeper, and we can even begin to change our environment, and the process continues. “Clearly, we can change our minds about leadership. … Changing our minds changes the way we behave, and that makes possible changes in other people and in the very system in which we are operating” (Turknett & Turknett, 2010, p. 12).

This culture in the TLG workplace, learning for the sake of learning, reminded me of an NPR story I had listened to early Monday morning (my first day as an Intern with TLG, May 19). Brain Nosek, from the University of Virginia, was a special guest who was speaking on the topic of the research culture. Here is the problem: the current research publishing and grant culture is placing enormous pressure on scientists to report only new, uninvestigated breakthroughs in knowledge.

Although this is a familiar concept for many of us who have spent time around academia, it is contradictory to the basic scientific method I was introduced to in grade school. We were taught that science should never rest. Although an experiment may have been completed in the past with a certain result, it must be tested and retested again to ensure consistency and strength in the claims. In fact, this disincentive to replicate findings is only hindering our efforts to solidify outcomes and claim meaningful conclusions as a scientific community. In my opinion, this is essential to learning.

The good news: in a recent issue of the journal Social Psychology, all of the authors replicated studies that have already been done in the past. They were approved for publication before the data collection, and this most certainly relived the rejection pressures associated with the emphasis on groundbreaking discoveries. This decision was a good one, because this rewarded good science, and the findings were important. During the radio conversation, Nosek gives the example of a classic experiment that was replicated and found insignificant. This allows researchers to propose further questions and consider additional variables, or anything that may have changed, that may have been inconsistent with this original study.

I would like to imagine that the feelings of these contributing authors who were part of the replication issue of Social Psychology are comparable to my feelings during this internship. It may seem abstract, but this connection was apparent to me immediately. There are a particular group of college undergrads who are stressing their way to graduation, because rather than viewing their bachelor’s degree as a terminal or conclusive success, they see this is an essential (high pressure) stepping stone to graduate school.  I was one of these students. I deeply valued the information I was learning as an undergraduate; however, at times I could not relish the learning process because I was too stressed about the result. The competition for PhD programs is disconcerting, and I was too informed of this fact to not be personally anxious. During the very last semester during my senior year of college, I accepted an offer for graduate school, and I realized that I could finally shed that underlying layer of pressure. This is how I feel the comparison to these authors for the special issue of Social Psychology. Now that I have a comfortable plan, I am now in the position to relish the process and more meticulously enjoy my learning. Fortunately, I am in the right place at Turknett Leadership Group. This environment encourages learning for the sake of learning. – Madison Hanscom

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