Leadership Montana Classroom Reflection: Barb Cestero - Class of 2015 & Masters 2020, Bozeman
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Barb Cestero


Barb Cestero – Class of 2015 & Masters 2020, Bozeman

Masters Class Session Class Reflection by Barb Cestero – Class of 2015 & Masters 2020, BozemanBarb Cestero

I had no idea.

When I volunteered to write the March Masters class reflection, I was riding the high of our January Whitefish session. Starting to implement the action steps I identified to bring more courageous collaboration into my work and continuing to apply the new leadership practices I’ve chosen to work on.

I couldn’t imagine the uncertainty, worry, challenge and unprecedented rapid change we would all find ourselves confronting today as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across our state, country and the world.

Today, I write from my newly installed home office, practicing “social distance” and isolation to “flatten the curve” and protect others. Phrases I didn’t know existed a few weeks ago. I am grateful to be able to adapt my work life in this way as not everyone can.

This is the new lens through which I reflect on our Masters class. At the top of my mind, are all of my classmates, Leadership Montana staff, fellow alumni and our teachers. I am wishing everyone good health and safety as we navigate these uncharted waters.

Two discussions from our Whitefish sessions with Pat Hughes on Courageous Collaboration stand out as almost prescient, offering wisdom that I need today.

The first revolved around vulnerability (defined as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure!) and learning in public. Here we are, engaged in a global crash course on learning in public because this pandemic is beyond so many of our own lived experiences. And it feels really vulnerable to be trying to lead at a time like this when I don’t even know the questions, let alone the answers. This is hard, and many are hurting.

This time also feels creative which leads me to the second discussion around adaptive leadership. I am in awe watching Montanans from all corners adapting to this remarkable challenge and innovating. From restaurants shifting on a dime to offer take- out and delivery to the healing dances offered on the Social Distancing Powwow Facebook page and the Montanans stepping up to make surgical masks for our healthcare providers. Our own Leadership Montana quickly produced a series of online webinars to keep us connected and learning. We are adapting and managing rapid change as best we can.

Our Leadership Montana experiences have given us important tools and prepared us to support each other, our communities and our state through this pandemic. We are all in this together, and at least today, I believe we can come through it together as well.

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