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7 Questions with Nathalie Lilavois
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Nathalie Lilavois
Name: Nathalie Lilavois
Current title: Director of Elementary Curriculum
Current organisation: Three Village CSD
I started my career in education as a classroom teacher and have been an educator for 34 years in a variety of teaching and administrative roles. Currently, I am District Director of Elementary Curriculum in Three Village Central School District where I previously served as principal in two different schools. WS Mount School was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. I am also a former US Army Reserve Captain. I am President of the Executive Board of the Malik Melodies Sisterhood, Inc. I am also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and an active member of the Long Island Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. I completed my Masters Degree at Teachers College, Columbia University and my doctorate at Hofstra University. Among the awards I received are the Champion of Sisterhood Award, Woman of Distinction Award, and the Friend of Education Award from Phi Delta Kappa. I am the curator/executive producer of TEDxDeerPark.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Communicating changes and progress to everyone in order to maintain consistency in our mission.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started my career as a kindergarten classroom teacher. I was fortunate enough to have mentors who encouraged me to get my school and building leader licenses. During that time I also did many public speaking engagements. I pursued an administration job and was offered my first principalship. Moving from the classroom to a principalship was quite a challenge, but I learned a lot which helped me in my next position in a larger school district. At Mount School, I worked to develop a collaborative team and our school was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. After working in a different school for a short time, I was promoted to District Director of Elementary Curriculum.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Typically, I read messages and prioritize my email during my first cup of coffee. After arriving to work, I meet with my office staff for status reports and schedule updates. Then I follow up on the flagged emails and return any phone calls. I usually attend or run several meetings and identify action items. Upon returning to the office, I follow up on those items, schedule any meetings if necessary and sign documents. I typically spend some time on the phone with my daughter after which, I check my remaining emails and complete any remaining work. If I have a specific project to work on, I use the hour after the office staff leaves to work uninterrupted. Before leaving, I check my calendar for the next day and make sure I have prepared any necessary items. Once I get home, I change clothes and take a walk around the neighborhood with my dog. When we return, I make dinner, watch TV, play video games, chat with my family or friends, and relax.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Great leaders build other leaders and must also be great followers. It is important to recognize and nurture leadership in others.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When I first learned about the 7 habits, it seemed like a blueprint for leadership. These principles have served me well throughout my career. I have learned to be purposeful, focused, and goal-oriented. I learned to prioritize tasks and to listen actively to my team. A few years ago, when the Leader In Me (7 Habits) workshop was in my area, I attended to "sharpen the saw" as it were. I have remained a life-long learner and revisit these principles often as they apply in all facets of the organizations in which I participate.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I think it is important for leaders to recognize the talented individuals and teams in the organization and acknowledge their expertise. You entrust them with the resources and the decision-making ability to implement a program or carry out a project. Once they do, you celebrate their wins and build opportunities for larger or more complex tasks. Others within the organization will see this process as a possibility for themselves as well.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
During my role as a principal, a staff member was having a difficult time in her home life and she broke down in tears, unable to continue teaching her class. I let her stay in my office and had someone take care of her students that day. I sat with her and let her talk and cry. She kept apologizing for taking up so much of my time and I told her it was alright, because it was what she needed at that moment. I listened to her and when I felt she was ready, I asked her what we could do together to help her with the situation. She came up with some suggestions and I listened and offered support. I had someone drive her home and I called her that evening to talk some more. She talked about what she wanted to do and how she would address the situation. I let her know she had a good plan and she didn't need to apologize for the earlier meeting in my office. She did end up seeking additional help. I told her that the only way she could repay me was to do well.