Academy Spotlight: Dana Galin – Vision; Leading and Managing Change

Dana GalinDana Galin, CEO + Founder, Imprint Leadership Partners:  

Tell us about yourself and your firm:

I have a vision of a world in which people are meaningfully contributing to others. They are living in alignment with who they are and what’s important to them and the organization they serve. They are role models and work with and through people to create outcomes that matter.

As our world continues to increase in complexity, our organizations need new types of leaders -- passionate professionals who envision a better future and co-create learning cultures that support the growth and development of their people. We need leaders who are no longer seduced by living up to others’ standards, but by living up to their own.

My firm, Imprint Leadership Partners, helps individuals become better leaders, teams to work together more effectively, and organizations to leverage their people with greater results. Through our work, each...

  • Individual experiences more clarity, mental agility, and personal power
  • Team experiences greater engagement, cohesiveness, and efficacy
  • Organization experiences people standing more fully in their leadership capacity

I am extraordinarily passionate about this work and am ever grateful for the opportunity to contribute in this way.

What is the focus of this Module?

Module 4 focuses on helping Fellows understand the importance of vision: their own, their department’s and their organization’s. Regardless of where one sits in the hierarchy, bringing forth a vision of what’s possible can start a dialogue and a process of change that achieves results beyond imagination. As Bob Anderson says, “We are never “done” with purpose or vision. If we are tracking it and stalking it, it keeps pulling us toward becoming the ever-larger person/leader that wants to emerge. It stretches us. When we are stretched by vision, when we choose to “step up,” we meet our doubts and fears at the door.”

Vision challenges status quo – who we are, how we lead, what we do. It calls us to transform ourselves into leaders who can support its realization. As such, we looked at a proven model that breaks down the steps to leading change at work. In this Module, Fellows begin to recognize their current reality, clarify changes to forward the vision, map stakeholders, investigate sources of resistance and brainstorm ideas to address them. At the close of the session, they are ready to move into the next Module armed with a meaningful opportunity for change that is ripe for the practice of influence (a focus of Module 5). 

What was the most challenging aspect of this Module?

The creation of departmental or organizational vision can be challenging for anyone, and particularly for anyone in a department of one, or ensconced in a large group that seems impossible to influence, or reporting to leaders “above” them who either have a vision or don’t want one. This module created an opportunity for Fellows, regardless of their current role, to consider a different future. As a leader, one is called to think beyond his or her job description and generate dialogue that can transcend business-as-usual. As such, we explored how Fellows can make a greater impact by advocating for an inspiring departmental vision that supports the organization’s purpose.

What resonated most with Fellows?

The importance of taking the time to consider change initiatives within the context of a personal and departmental longer-term vision and the steps to get there. They also appreciated learning from one another and the Board members.

What were the big take-aways and types of actionable goals do you hope that Fellows will set as a result of what they learned?

Some of the big take-aways include:

  • The importance of designing an outcome-creating structure in which you move toward a vision that matters versus a problem-reacting structure in which circumstance dictates direction.
  • To create change you must know where you want to be, where you are today and the gap between the two.
  • The choice to be “change leaders” who set direction and enroll people or change managers, who navigate the process and attempt to control chaos.
  • The reminder that companies don’t change, people do.

In terms of actionable goals, it is my hope that Fellows will continue to:

  • Flesh out their personal vision including their desired outcomes.
  • Work with others to develop a departmental vision and/or identify new opportunities to reach that vision.
  • Identify the change initiatives that would help the department achieve its desired state.
  • Work on their leadership development plan and seek Accountability Circle feedback (growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum).
  • Seek out support and guidance from mentors, sponsors, and coaches when necessary.

What role did the Board of Advisor members, Rob Falk and Len Kennedy, play in the program and what did you learn from their participation?

Rob and Len played an important role in helping bring home the opportunities and challenges facing in-house counsel as it relates to vision and change. Their leadership stories were inspiring and their experiences in the General Counsel seat provide valuable perspective.

From your experience with other programs, what sets the Leadership Academy apart?

There are multiple aspects that differentiate the ACC NCR leadership program:

  • The program attracts high caliber participants who clearly care about the quality of their leadership.
  • The ACC NCR staff is extremely responsive and takes great care to meet the needs of participating Fellows.
  • The program is designed well and teaches competencies important to in-house leadership.
  • Fellows have the opportunity to deepen their learning and relationships/network in between group sessions.
  • Fellows are highly complementary, which provide opportunities for diverse thinking/contribution.


Len Kennedy, Former Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Neustar Inc.

How does vision affect one’s leadership journey?  From my perspective, vision is fundamental to who we are, what motivates us, what inspires us, what drives us.  To be a leader, it is critically important to take the time to think and to reflect on those things.  The demands of work and life can be exceptional. You have to make the time for the thing or things that inspire you– it could be nature, your faith, music, poetry, or something else entirely. Making time for these things is both inspiring and grounding. It reminds us of who we are and what we really care about.

In the professional sphere, there can be a right time and right place – including for the communication of vision, creating clarity about a department or organization vision, or articulating the need to redefine it. That said, in my experience, if you take the time to develop clarity and confidence about your vision and trust yourself, you can be present in the moment and true to that vision.  As a leader, the situation often demands that.

Change is a certainty in today’s in-house environment – for any organization.  The greater the clarity you have around your vision, the better positioned you will be to lead.

robfalk_photoRob Falk, General Counsel, The Truth Initiative

Is managing change important to your leadership as General Counsel? Whether change is externally or internally driven, being able to manage it is essential.  Dana’s instruction and the work done by Fellows in today’s exercises drives home the fundamentals.  Creating buy-in and anticipating resistance is key. You have to be sure that everyone knows and understands the vision, and how the change supports that vision.

Building trust with your teams is also essential. On any given day, I will make at least three mistakes if my team is not there to back-stop me. Valuing your team members, and recognizing them when they do something right creates loyalty and trust. Making sure that you have those relationships in place and that everyone understands their role and why it matters is essential.

When you have the flexibility to institute change incrementally, that may be the best course.  If the situation requires sweeping change, you cannot over-communicate the reasons and the process. As a leader, you are responsible for creating and communicating a shared vision. You need to weave it in wherever it is relevant to do so. In the end, you have succeeded if the members of your team become the primary drivers for the change you seek to implement.

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