Leadership Studies Faculty Spotlight: Renato Almanzor

Renato Almanzor

Please tell us about yourself.

My full name is Renatao Almanzor, and what I love to share with folks is that my full name is actually Dr. Renato Patrick Inciong Inabangan Almanzor, Jr. I share that often, because I bring all of who I am with me, wherever I go -- just as it's my assumption that others bring all of who they are. So, I do work that I call transformation catalyst. This means that I get to work with leaders of organizations, to remind them of their loveliness, and create the structures and conditions that allow them to continually realize that over time. I've been doing this work for a long time. I always knew that I wanted to change the world, and I thought I would want to change the world one person at a time. So that's why I earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and then a master's in counseling. However, after working in that field for a while, I realized that it was taking too long to change the world one person at a time. So, I earned a doctorate degree in organizational psychology, thinking I could change organizations one at a time. After a long time playing professor and doing some consulting, about ten years ago, I realized that I was back to believing I could only change one person at a time, and it begins and ends with me. I can't change you. I definitely can't change my 25-year-old son. I can't change many of the people that I work with, but at the same time I can work with many of the people to change the conditions in which we live, thrice, work and play. And so, that's what I do now. And so in addition to doing consulting and organizational change work, I teach at Cal Poly Humboldt and at the University of Pacific. I have the privilege of teaching some pretty cool classes. 

Please tell us what Leadership Studies means to you.

When I started teaching strategic planning, I quickly learned that there were students who were near and dear to my heart. These students were able to tell me what they like, want, and need, but we want students to be able to say, “How can I do something that benefits what's going on for me right now?” And what I realized pretty quickly was that there was a lot of alignment between my principles and values. Leadership isn’t simply taking on the traditional cannon or hegemony of what leadership studies and organizational theory can mean, but it really is how to do something transformational. What I think is transformation. So that's what it means to me, that we're actually developing leaders so that they can take responsibility for what matters to them, and that they have the competencies, the knowledge, the skills, the capacity -- as well as the purpose and motivation -- to do that as effectively as possible. 

What led you to become a faculty in our Leadership Studies program?

I got into this work because it really was about change -- transforming our communities -- and that I could actually bring that sensibility and perspective into the work. It is not just about how do we teach folks the conventional ways of strategic planning, but how can we do it with an equity lens? I'm really talking about social justice, and about bringing out who we are. And, what a great opportunity to be able to do that in a program that's really committed to those principles and values? This is the reason I became a faculty member in the Leadership Studies program. 

What can you tell us about the students in Leadership Studies?

The students come in with lived experience, and what's beautiful about that is, I work with a lot of organizations where folks have varying degrees of degrees, college degrees, but more so, life experiences. Another thing that’s pretty amazing about the group of students is that their age ranges vary from the twenties to the fifties; I think I even had a student once who was in their sixties. They come from different fields and are willing to do something where they currently are. Even if they are not currently employed, they are willing to transform their own lives, their families’ lives, and their own community. So, they all come in with a purpose, and that’s really beautiful to me.

Another quality about Leadership students is that many of them were willing to do the work and get feedback on it. So, as a faculty member, it’s been a cool experience to set up expectations and evaluation processes together, while giving feedback throughout the program. They are putting in the work and are always receiving feedback from the faculty and their peers. And the students are constantly giving us feedback. So this is something I’m learning from the students, learning to receive feedback. So I’m constantly thanking my students for their inspirations and curiosities, because I’m learning from them. I’m always sharing their amazing achievements, but I also share their fabulous failures -- because we can all gain wisdom when we learn from each other. 

How have you seen students’ lives be impacted by completing the BA in Leadership Studies degree?

Everything from elevating their careers to furthering their education. One student that was a fire chief was able to use many of the elements from the various classes to make a case to fund a new fire truck. They were able to use what they learned in the classroom in real life. Another student reflected that they didn’t realize that they would be so reflective and retrospective in the program. They thought that the Leadership Studies program would mostly focus on what they know. But what we offer is not only what they know, but what they feel, what they might be ready for, what resources they can access or leverage as well as again, to really clarify what their purpose is. 

These are students who are willing to put themselves out there, and they can see the changes that our leadership program is feeding them as a whole person. And it's not just looking at them as one narrow "you are a student; we are the faculty" -- and we have staff that supports you to that, but we're going to see you as a whole person. 

What have you learned from the students in the Leadership Studies program?

I learned pretty easily where I do well, and where I can improve on. Somehow, we’ve created a relationship with the students where they can express gratitude, and they can express their specific wants and needs. For me, that's both generosity and vulnerability. When we have generosity and vulnerability at the level that we have, we're also demonstrating trust for each other. So, I've learned to trust that the students aren't going to just give me stuff to prop me up, as well as say stuff to throw shade my way. How can the feedback they give me better the next generation of students who are going to be alumni like them? So that's one. The other thing I learned is that the way I teach may benefit me, but it may not benefit the students. If a student isn’t learning the way you teach, you have to teach the way they learn. This required me to learn their learning styles. Some people like to listen, some people like to read, some people like to feel, and some people learn by doing. I'm the kind of person who likes to reflect first, then theorize then act, but others want to act then reflect and theorize. So how do I provide a holistic curriculum that allows them to bring all of who they are and also learn with what their super power might be? What's beautiful about the students is that they're willing to also continue their learning. So,I've had relationships with others after the class and after the program, where I've been able to work with them or their organization. They have also connected me with other organizations or work that is similar, knowing what they know about my work and my commitment. So, it's been pretty special.