Early Career Leaders Community of Practice: Host Leadership: A Fresh Approach to Navigating Difficult Conversations

The Early Career Leaders Community of Practice is a network of new and early career leaders from all three campuses and Michigan Medicine. The community of practice aims to provide professional development, networking opportunities and best practices with three to four events per year and networking/information sharing in the Early Career Leaders channel on Slack.

Host Leadership: A Fresh Approach to Navigating Difficult Conversations

In this interactive session, we will define the concept of "host leadership" and explore how this novel mindset is well-suited to the complex demands of the multi-layered workplace. Host leadership emphasizes the importance of leaders acting both heroically (stepping forward) and acting in service (stepping back) to meet the needs of a challenging interaction. Using the topic of challenging conversations as a model, we will consider and share actions and methods to improve communication and problem-solving. This session will include an activity where participants will share challenging situations they have encountered where leadership behaviors were required, and how they handled it.

You will learn to:

  • Define "host leadership" and how it differs from other leadership approaches

  • Determine when to use the host leadership model in challenging situations

You will benefit by:

  • Understanding the importance of both "stepping up" and "stepping back" behaviors when practicing host leadership

  • Applying the key principles and behaviors of host leadership to examples from your professional life 


Any U-M faculty or staff who would like to learn how to more effectively navigate difficult conversations


Denise Williams

About the Presenter:

Denise Williams, Ph.D. is an organizational effectiveness consultant for Michigan Medicine. Denise collaborates with leadership, employees, faculty, learners and interdisciplinary teams across the university to create and promote a vibrant workplace culture of inclusion, equity, diversity and well-being. She has worked at U-M since June 2011. Denise earned a Ph.D. in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and an M.S. in behavioral psychology from Eastern Michigan University. She also holds two senior-level certifications in human resources. 

Topic Area

  • Conferences and Special Events

Domain and Expectation

  • Mission
    • Lead innovation and change
  • People
    • Collaborate and build inclusive relationships
  • Self
    • Adapt
    • Act with courage and confidence
    • Communicate
  • Execution
    • Build positive culture


  • Member of a Team
  • Leading a Team


  • Level 1: Awareness


Code: OL23ECLCOP03

Presenter: Denise Williams

Cost: $0

  • Wed 12/7/22 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
    Location: Online Webinar