LEADER SERIES: Learning Leadership in an Uncertain Time


A conversation with professional coach, Greer Van Dyck, about the inaugural Leadership Certificate cohort


If you ask Greer Van Dyck, the real magic of learning happens through meaningful integration. That’s especially true in leadership training, where learners are working to change how they perceive themselves and how they interact with others.

That takes work.

Greer Van Dyck Photograph“People come into these programs really open to new ideas,” says Greer. “ You can feel the excitement. So to make the leap from understanding a concept to actually changing behavior, people need a different kind of support. They need an opportunity outside of the traditional academic or learning environment to ask what leadership principles actually mean in their own lives. They need a chance to notice how those principles relate to their own behavior and assumptions. The personalized dialogue that comes out of the coaching work takes people into a vulnerable space, but that is where their true inner leader emerges.”

That’s why we were thrilled when Greer agreed to join us as a coach for our new Outdoor Industry Leadership Certificate program. The pilot cohort began meeting in June, and Greer has been there from the start.

“Going into it,” she recalls, “I thought my job would be to hold space for each individual in the cohort to talk about what they were learning, support them through meaningful integration of these new insights to their life, and set personal goals for their own practice. And that did happen, of course. But layers emerged that we couldn’t have anticipated when we originally planned this course, back in the pre-COVID era.”

As Greer tells it, COVID put the course’s leadership content to the test starting on day one. 

“From the beginning, I found the conversations moving into a space of processing a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, and even fear about this moment. These are all people who really want to step up as leaders, and right off the bat, they’re grappling with COVID-19 and the deep reckoning spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“This isn’t easy stuff to process, but I've been really impressed with this group, with their willingness to have the tough conversations and look hard at themselves in order to grow and learn. You’d never plan a year like 2020, but here it is. We can learn from it. This is a moment that demands a growth mindset, especially from our leaders. When you’re present to what’s happening around you, really open to it, you will grow. If you’re rigid and resistant, you won’t.”

“To me, one of the biggest things about leading during times of uncertainty is learning how to collaborate through conflict. Because, really, when things are difficult, you can work through it,  or you can say, forget it: I’m just going to keep my head down and do my work. And maybe the task at hand gets completed, but the team falls apart, so you haven’t actually led with intention. I think the hardest—but most important—part of leadership is the ability to be transparent and vulnerable yourself and your team. That is how trust and mutual respect are created, and is foundational for teams to effectively move forward.

“It takes a lot of practice, but it isn’t about striving to be the perfect leader, it’s about the willingness to keep learning."



Media inquiries

If your publication would like to feature a CORE program, student or instructor, please contact Meredith Morrice.

Have a story idea?

We'd love to hear about it. Help us highlight the work of CORE students, alumni, faculty, staff, or industry partners. Send an email with story suggestions or any questions.

Recent Posts

Recent Posts