CityU’s School of Applied Leadership: Thoughts from the Dean

CityU’s School of Applied Leadership: Thoughts from the Dean
Dean, School of Applied Leadership  Dr. Kelly Flores
Dean, School of Applied Leadership
Dr. Kelly Flores

The New School of Applied Leadership:

Inspiring Growth, Renewal, Authenticity, and Genuine Curiosity

Several people have asked me recently about what I am most excited about in this new role as Dean for the School of Applied Leadership. To share about my passion for leadership and my excitement for the new school, allow me to write a little about my journey…

I am passionate about growth and renewal. In my personal journey, I have had the privilege of working with men and women who come from backgrounds of abuse and unmet needs. I have shared my story in large and small groups in cities around the U.S. I have come to realize that people everywhere are inspired by those who have overcome hardships and have become leaders in their own right. People everywhere genuinely want to experience growth and renewal.

For me, LEADERSHIP includes a process of growth and renewal, which begins with understanding ourselves, understanding what makes us who we are, and understanding how our words and actions impact others. We recently conducted a leadership workshop on “The Dark Side of Leadership” where we had a powerful discussion about how our past experiences impact our approaches to leadership. Leaders from around Seattle left inspired and energized with a new awareness about how they lead, why they lead this way, and what actions they can take to continue growing in their leadership. In the new School of Applied Leadership, we will continue these conversations in our programs, in our workshops, and with the organizations we serve.

I am passionate about authenticity and genuine curiosity. As I embrace growth and renewal in myself, my team, and my students, I also strive to embrace authenticity and genuine curiosity. Authenticity comes from holding the lessons we have learned, the successes we have had, and our hopes for the future in delicate balance. If we hold on too tight to our failures, we tend to be negative and pessimistic, and feel hopeless about our future. If we hold on too tight to our successes, we tend to miss opportunities to learn from others and maintain a spirit of continuous improvement. And if we hold on too tight to our hopes for the future, we might forget to be present in the moment and cherish the relationships and experiences we have going on right now.

Genuine curiosity is exhibited when we suspend our opinions, judgments, experiences, and biases and seek to truly understand things from the perspective of others. This important leadership attribute requires skills of active listening, critical inquiry, and a persistent curiosity. Leaders of today benefit from deeply understanding the needs of the people they serve, the perspective of their customers, and how their leadership can impact both.

In the School of Applied Leadership, we challenge our students and our workshop participants to embrace genuine curiosity and hold the past, present, and future in delicate balance. This balance allows us let go of that which hinders us and strive towards what we hope to achieve. It also helps us to be fully present with our families, friends, colleagues, direct reports, and students – appreciating them for who they are and where they are in their life journey – trusting that we are all works-in-progress growing, building, and hoping for a better future.

I am passionate (and excited) about where we are going with the new School of Applied Leadership. My hope for the new school is that CityU will be a local and global catalyst for leadership conversation, education, and innovation. While leadership itself is a timeless idea, leaders of today need a place to continually grow, be renewed, and discover who they really are. Leaders of today also need to be equipped with new and relevant tools to navigate the current and future challenges. Advancing technology, increasing diversity, and growing expectations for social responsibility all contribute to the complexities that leaders face; leaders need to talk about these factors, share ideas, and learn new skills to equip themselves for success.

The School of Applied Leadership team has been strategizing how we will help leaders embrace growth, renewal, and authenticity in relevant ways that they can apply to their organizations today. We have plans to expand our leadership offerings worldwide, both through online and in-person forums, empowering leaders to integrate innovative ideas and proven practices into their organizations. We plan to partner with organizations around Seattle, providing leadership trainings, workshops, and customized offerings to meet unique needs. As a school, we hope to reach under-served leadership populations – in the classroom, meeting rooms, and board rooms – helping leaders to hold on to what is timeless and good, while forging ahead in innovative ways to continue growing and developing to better serve their organizations now and in the future.

This is an exciting time! Please check out our new School of Applied Leadership page. I welcome thoughts and ideas for how we can better serve leaders in Seattle, and around the world. Please feel free to contact me anytime at

Published July 10, 2014



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