Alumna and Longtime Faculty Member Mona DelSole, MPA, Advocates For More Communication and Self-Awareness Among
Mona DelSole, MPA ’95 has taken her passion for people and built her career on purpose-filled connections with them. A highly regarded leadership expert and executive level coach, Mona earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Marywood, also meriting the Walton Medal for Excellence in Public Administration, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications/English from Kutztown University. With extensive experience in business, healthcare, and senior care, she is the owner of Mona DelSole Consulting LLC, a leadership development company. Additionally, she is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business and Global Innovation at Marywood, where she has taught for nearly 25 years. While Mona calls the Lehigh Valley area home, she has shuttled back and forth between there and Northeastern Pennsylvania for many years to work and teach.
“Marywood has given me so much,” Mona stated. “I have been fortunate to witness amazing changes and growth, but it is enduring principles like the mission and the core values of service and excellence, demonstrated by and through leadership, that really set Marywood apart from other institutions.”
She decided to attend Marywood for graduate school after meeting with Dr. Alice McDonnell, Professor and Program Director of the Health Services Administration & Gerontology programs. Mona focused on a healthcare track within the Public Administration program, doing her graduate research in skilled nursing facilities and focusing her thesis on the quality of care in nursing facilities. Shortly after graduation, an opportunity arose for her to teach a course on “Aging in Society.” She now teaches “Administrative Practices in Healthcare Delivery Systems,” mentoring junior and senior students to be successful in regional healthcare delivery systems. Still, thriving in any business requires special skills that go beyond job-specific tasks. That’s why Mona also teaches a class on “Organizational Behavior,” which emphasizes the kinds of leadership and organizational development skills that are crucial to navigating workplace factors such as multi-generational awareness.
Through the course of her consulting work, and at one training session in particular, she had an illuminating experience with multi-generational workplace dynamics during a coffee break. She recalled, “I was doing leadership development work for health clinicians one day, and, during the coffee break, I overheard chatter from two clinicians of the Baby Boomer generation discussing an unflattering perspective of Millennials. One of the clinicians, a Millennial, overheard their comments, and it created immediate tension. Through conversation, the situation was alleviated in the moment, but the impact of that experience stuck with me. Later, I was doing leadership training with Marywood students, and I asked them what they would seek in the workplace from older generations. I was astonished that their answers included many of the things they were so often accused of not wanting: mentorship, guidance, clear expectations. I wanted to bridge that divide—to identify those multi-generational biases and perceptions, address them, and resolve them through productive conversations.”
Regardless of your particular generational affiliation, she said, you’re responsible for your actions and reactions. “We have to be cognizant of checking our assumptions, because not doing so is causing a major disconnect,” observed Mona. “Get to know people as individuals and build authentic relationships. Don’t try to navigate workplace dynamics solely on your pre-existing biases, because doing so will only ensure the perpetuation of anxiety and mistrust among generations. No matter who you are, or where you fall on the generational spectrum, after building relationships, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Don’t assume; dig deeper.”
Awareness about multi-generational workplace issues is increasing, largely due to recruitment and retention issues—recently referred to as The Great Resignation—spawned by the pandemic, but also symptomatic of a culture that is more inclined to explore flexible workplace options. The pandemic demanded every generation to adapt. “All generations were impacted, even those with an innate knowledge of technology. That’s because, in the absence of human connection, anxiety increases, no matter your age. However, given what we endured, and, to some extent still are enduring, there’s been a noticeable shift in workplace dynamics and expectations,” Mona observed. “Younger generations want to work remotely—and they will leave a job to do so. Many workplaces have permanently shifted to remote or a hybrid models; others are considering how they can continue to develop and offer these elements. One thing we know is that the remote component will not go away.”
She suggests that leaders embrace a management style that inspires excellent leadership through their own actions. The key components leaders should have (or should develop) include building a relationship with their team based on good communication, developing trust in their employees’ expertise, recognizing achievements, and being clear about expectations.
“To perform at a high level, we need trust. Constant communication is the key to reducing anxiety—NOT micromanaging,” said Mona. “Also, it is vital to recognize a job done well. You must build trust, and, leaders and educators especially, must be clear about expectations.”
These issues and others contribute to the success of a multi-generational workplace dynamic. That's why Mona recently led a virtual professional continuing education workshop at Marywood University, “How to Lead and Succeed in the New Multi-Generational Workplace Workshop,” to assist members of the campus community, as well as external professionals, in connecting across multiple generations in the workplace.
Her advice for students and for recent graduates who are in, or are about to enter, the workforce? “Network, network, network—and then network some more! Do it immediately. Network through your volunteer efforts. Network with your classmates and your faculty members. Network with family and friends. By building your personal brand now, and getting your name and your work out there, you will transfer your accomplishments from the classroom to the corporate setting. Intentional networking is where the jobs are found.”