Case Study 2: Owning It

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, development director for Centro Cultural de Washington County is a young leader with extraordinary potential. He describes his job role as being a positive steward of Centro Cultural’s mission and providing project management to programs that break the cycle of poverty through empowering underprivileged community members. “I’m passionate about affecting positive changes in the community, as well as in the teams I lead.” After going through the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive TeamTM, conducted by Michelle Rios, owner and principal at Blue Tiger Leadership, he grew hungry for further personal leadership development. 

Michelle began the coaching process with assessments that helped reveal Juan Carlos’ strengths and weaknesses. “Sometimes I felt like I was too eager to make a difference and I was moving too fast to collaborate,” said Juan Carlos. “But, knowing my best qualities, and knowing what my weaknesses are, I can stop and ask insightful questions about a project to determine if I’m the best fit or if another team member can be more effective than I can be.” 

Juan Carlos grew a great respect for the idea of teamwork in action, especially when applying The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. “I now embrace collaboration and conflict to get to the best solution.” Juan Carlos discovered how collective commitment offered opportunities to be more effective in making positive changes in the community. The team started holding each other accountable; checking in on deliverable due dates as well as expressing appreciation when a deadline was met. “In non-profit organizations, we’re driven to fulfill our mission, and as a result can find ourselves manifesting countless initiatives. As a team, we have to decide where our limited resources are best spent to offer the most value; this helps us stay focused.” 

“Michelle is effective at getting to the heart of the issue and inspiring reflection,” says Juan Carlos. “She points out behaviors that need improvement without being judgmental. She guided our team to come up with conclusions ourselves, rather than handing out advice.” This powerfully compassionate coaching not only provided a safe format for growth to happen, but was very personal to Juan Carlos’s individual makeup as a leader, and to Centro Cultural’s unique team. 

Having positive leaders to look to has been huge for Juan Carlos. “I have amazing mentors to whom I look to become a better leader,” he notes. Maria Rubio, executive director, and Robert Rios, operations director, provided living examples of positive leadership. Coupling their influence with the tools Michelle taught him provided a transformative shift in his behaviors. 

“I felt like an imposter in some ways. Like I didn’t belong or deserve the leadership opportunities because of my age or lack of experience.” Michelle, Robert and Maria all provided consistent encouragement to help Juan Carlos move through his discomfort by embracing his strengths, but not feeling the need to own every responsibility. He now shows up prepared to contribute his best – and knowing when to allow others to contribute theirs – and he’s doing it with a newfound grace, confidence, and ease.

“If I had to pick one word for how this process affected me, it would ‘liberating’. I feel liberated to own any space I occupy, whether it’s in the community, at work or in my personal life. I can own my space. No more and no less.”

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