When Paul Thallner’s sister, Elaine, encouraged him to look into the Master in Positive Organization Development and Change (MPOD) program at the Weatherhead School of Management, he imagined groups of people sitting around in circles singing “Kumbaya” and sharing their feelings. Elaine was already enrolled in the MPOD program at the time and told Thallner it was just the sort of program he was looking for.
At the time, Thallner was the director of a non-profit, struggling to use a leadership style he thought he ought to be using rather than finding his own authentic voice. He felt he had become the leader no one wanted to be, ineffective and uninspiring. Thallner resisted his sister’s nudges for two full years before giving in. Still skeptical about the MPOD but frustrated as a leader, Elaine urged Thallner to come to an open house, where he met Richard Boyatzis and David L. Cooperrider.
To Thallner’s surprise and delight, neither Boyatzis nor Cooperrider were wearing beads or living in huts in the wilderness; they both had worked in and with real businesses and taught in the Weatherhead School of Management. Meeting the faculty in the program and learning more about its curriculum convinced Thallner to take the next step.
Thallner credits his experience in the MPOD program with a significant personal transformation. “The need I had as a leader was not systems and processes,” Thallner relates, “It was something about me” that needed to change.
The MPOD required “deep digging into who you are and how you show up in the world,” he continues. Thallner came into the program feeling lost as a leader, but the information and feedback he received from his cohort showed him otherwise. Coursework and assignments procured data that reinforced Thallner’s strengths as a leader while revealing where he had blind spots. It was “massively transformational,” says Thallner.
Thallner found a home at Weatherhead, where he discovered people like him who were trying to help others in business. Thallner saw a need for a new way to reach goals and effect change after his years of experience in the non-profit, private, and government sectors. He wanted to be a leader that could bridge the gap between these sectors to create big change and big impact. The MPOD program helped him realize how he could build off of his career background to meet the greater need of cross-sector leadership.
Thallner started his own organizational development firm two years ago. High Peaks Group specializes in preparing leaders for broadbased transformational change initiatives. He works with leaders who face challenges so big that they require reaching out to other sectors. Thallner has worked with businesses and organizations across the globe to create lasting positive change and measurable results for leaders, their organizations, and the world.
Learn more about the MPOD program at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.