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  • Xumei Wang

Leading for Change – Application in my Professional Life

I was very trike and surprised when I got an invitation from the director of the Leadership for Change Conference, a five-day virtual conference for students at the University of San Diego. I was very excited that I had an opportunity to learn from this experience. I could learn from the director, English-speaking colleagues, and members. It is very challenge for me as a Chinese female. English is my second language; I am a foreigner for almost all the members and colleagues. I was anxious and looked forward to it.

I was even more challenged by the director who authorized me as the head of the Small Study Group team. I have never done this before and did not think of doing this. The director said that this experience would be helpful for me taking the associate director role in upcoming group relations conference in China December. I am very impressed by this concern.

I was not confident on taking my role as the head of SSG team. I felt I was supported by my colleagues, meantime I was dismissed and deauthorized by colleagues because of my unexperience in working in a foreign setting, my English accent, my Chinese identity, my not confident on taking my authority, etc. I tried to take my authority, hold my role, exercise my task, keep the boundary, especially learning from my colleagues and members. I did it at last.

After that conference, our department of psychiatry in the hospital where I work needed to move to a new place within one week. I had to design, plan, pack up, work with the logistics department, material management department, medical department, decoration company, and deans of the hospital. During this process our department was dismissed often, but I took my role as the director of department of psychiatry more fully, held my role, exercised my task to make our department work as well as possible. This navigation was challenging in this complex and very complicated system. Boundaries of time, space, task and associated responsibility came alive. I understood more clearly the system dynamics both overtly and covertly and I made links with similar dynamics in the larger Chinese society, particularly around authority. I was very tired after this hard work mentally and bodily, but very happy I made a progress in practicing group relations in my professional work. I understand and am much clearer about whole system and sub-systems and am happy to say my department works well now.

The Leading for Change experience is also very helpful for me to take the associate director role in the upcoming group relations conference in China where there are such strong envy, competition and ambition dynamics. I can take a much more interpretive stance to understand the dynamic of the directorate and staff, try to hold the anxiety, uncertainty, envy, competition and ambition. I try to understand my role, task, and take my authority and keep the boundary. Boundary issues are 5000 years old in Chinese history and culture, which is the most difficult for us to learn. I trust I will make another progress after the upcoming conference.

I am grateful to have had this opportunity of learning in Leading for Change.

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