Build Greater Self-Awareness To Improve Your Leadership

Dimitry Shlyonsky

Photo Credit: Rachel Lincoln (


Dimitry Shlyonsky, Senior Director, PMO at Crossfuze shares his experience in the Ivey Executive Program and how he’s been able to take concepts from the classroom back to his workplace. One of the key learning objectives of the Ivey Executive Program is for participants to gain self-awareness about their leadership habits through coaching, peer-learning, and in-class session, and proceed to identify ways that they can actively alter their leadership approach to better support their teams and organizations as well as be more effective in their role.

What inspired you to take this program? 
A colleague of mine took the program years ago and had very positive things to say about their experience. Desiring a learning experience that would help of shape and build my career in the right direction, I set my sights on taking the program at the first available opportunity.

What were your most significant “ah ha!” moments, highlights, or takeaways? 
I was surprised by how much the Hercules Meets Buddha exercise resonated with me. I am traditionally a Herculean leader that catalyzes energy into the direction I see before me. The fact that this might not be the most productive way to approach things and that it can keep my team from their own personal growth was a tough reality to accept. I brought this back to my team and it changed how we approach problems. I am still working on strengthening my inner Buddha. It’s been a very positive journey.

How did the interactive elements of the program add to your learning experience?
The most impactful interactive element for me was the team-building exercise in Module One. Getting feedback from peers and seeing how I interacted with others was very eye-opening. The live case study was also very impactful for me, and the site visits created key learning experiences with takeaways that I will embrace for years to come.

Describe your experience working with Ivey faculty. How did the faculty contribute to your learning? 
The Ivey faculty was engaged, interactive, and very knowledgeable. The single most powerful element that I felt was validation. As a senior leader, we experience things that might not follow the textbook approach to solving business problems. A major challenge we face is when the program we have does not have a clear or flawless solution for moving forward. The Ivey faculty were able to provide guidance on what the “right” path might be and also provided counsel on some of the imperfect situations that my gut provided high levels of anxiety on.

How would you describe the program’s impact? How will your learning help you to be more effective in your role? 
The program has given me a new lens through which to approach business challenges. The resounding takeaway about the difference between assigning solutions vs. assigning tasks to my direct reports as a leader. The executive coaching component to the program helped me think through some tough situations and the direction set through a combination of the coaching sessions and course curriculum has helped me to be a more effective and inclusive leader.

How did the program help you expand your network of peers? Describe the benefit you experienced in learning alongside other leaders. 
I met some great leaders across different industries who I would never have had the good fortune to meet otherwise. The insight they provided on my approach and skills, as well as the great bonding both throughout the program and in extra social hours, has been invaluable. Validation, support, insight, and reinforcement are key benefits I have experienced from the incredible group that Ivey assembled. I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

How has the program changed your approach to leadership?
Now that I’m back at work, I provide my direct reports with more autonomy and encourage them to problem solve rather than to try to provide the answers they think that I would want. This has already resulted in better outcomes and a more positive atmosphere in our work environment. Improving my ability to delegate has also created more space for me to focus on my responsibilities and gives me more time to work on shaping the direction of the business and aligning our business results to corporate objectives.

We’ve used Zoom and various technologies to virtually create a live, “in-class” experience. What benefits did you notice in being able to learn virtually?
I personally tend to find virtual learning to be more challenging than in-person sessions, but the takeaways from the virtual module were still strong for me. The atmosphere between faculty and participants was still thoughtful and inclusive in the live virtual sessions.

Will you recommend this program to your colleagues? 
Yes, I definitely will recommend the program to colleagues who are looking to galvanize their current skillset to the next level.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your experience in the program? 
The level of professionalism and organization was very high. The food, the social events, and the inclusivity was top-notch!


For more information on the Ivey Executive Program, please download a program brochure.