Leadership Success Story: An Experienced Leader Revitalized

Billie Jo Deiter is accustomed to being a leader, having spent more than a decade as a manager at Pennian Bank. So when the bank signed her up to participate in Temple University Harrisburg’s Strengths-based Leadership Certificate program, she thought it would simply be a refresher of what she already knew about leadership.

Deiter is happy she was wrong. Instead of duplicating what she had experienced in previous trainings, Temple’s program gave her a new view of leadership and helped her see new opportunities to promote her employees’ success.

“Sometimes when you’ve been with a place for so long and feel that things are going well, you don’t realize that there still is room for improvement,” Deiter says. “I feel like the program opened my eyes to the possibility that I could be a better manager and spark interest in my staff to want to reach to the stars.”

Deiter acknowledges that the requirements of the leadership certificate program – five workshops, a workplace project and a final presentation – initially made her a bit nervous. But she soon recognized that the program’s breadth and depth are what makes it so effective. Devoting entire workshops to topics such as communication, culture and performance management allows participants to take the time to reflect on their practice and how they could enhance their skills in those areas. “You get a lot more out of it, each time focusing on something new,” Deiter says.

Deiter adds that the format allows leaders to take the lessons they’re learning in the classroom and immediately apply them in the workplace. For example, she instituted monthly group and one-on-one meetings with staff so she could hear their feedback and more quickly respond to any problems or concerns.

A major a-ha moment for Deiter was when she decided to ask staff to complete a questionnaire about their goals and aspirations for their work at the bank. She discovered that many staff members had ambitions she was not aware of – and she became determined to help her employees pursue their dreams. “The biggest impact was to see myself as someone who could help coach staff, not hold them back,” Deiter says. “If there’s something they want to do, I’m there to help them get there.”

One employee who has experienced this change firsthand is Laura Radabaugh, a customer service representative at Pennian Bank. Radabaugh wants to follow in Deiter’s footsteps and become a manager, but she knows that she first needs to learn how to be a loan officer. Deiter is encouraging her to pursue that goal by helping her learn about the bank’s loan system and how to go through the loan process with customers. “She hears what you’re looking to do, and she will help you,” Radabaugh says.

Temple University Harrisburg’s Strengths-based Leadership Certificate program provides supervisors, managers, directors and emerging leaders with an opportunity to learn and practice skills leading to a more empowered workplace. For more information, visit https://harrisburg.temple.edu/Array/strengths-based-leadership-certificate.