College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines

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Maridee Shogren’s leadership a la mode

April 4, 2024 by Walter Criswell for UND Today 


Dean of UND’s College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines sifts leadership insights from experience as baker

Maridee Shogren
Maridee Shogren presents her 18:83 speech at the foot of the Memorial Union’s Social Stairs. Photo by Walter Criswell/UND Today.

Maridee Shogren: nurse, midwife, principal investigator for opioid recovery grant Don’t Quit the Quit, dean of the UND College of Nursing & Professional Development and … baker?

In her speech as part of the 18:83 Speaker Series, Shogren exchanged her scrubs for an apron to tell the audience what her time baking pies has taught her about being an effective leader. Throughout the speech, she used her concept of “apple pie leadership” to emphasize the need for structure, diversity and flexibility in leadership roles.

To start, Shogren said that the crust is integral to the structure of the pie; it is what holds everything together. Its success can be attributed to the care a baker takes in choosing its composition.

“My grandma always said, ‘the crust is the best part of the pie,’ ” she said. “You have to have the right ratio of butter to flour.”

This perfect balance of flour and butter not only gives the pie a flaky and tasty crust, but also provides it with structural integrity that holds everything together when you remove the pie from the tin. Shogren says that leaders should view putting teams together in a similar way.

“You should have people who can work independently, but they have to fit together. It’s really good to have people with different layers of experience and who are open to new ideas and changing the ratios of how you’re pulling your foundation together.”

Equally important is the filling. Just as an apple pie without cinnamon or lemon juice would lack the dish’s signature warmth and vibrancy, a team lacking diversity of experience and thought will have less depth.

Shogren says that leading a team requires the leader to balance people and temperaments to achieve an end product that is as complex and satisfying as a good slice of apple pie.

“If you choose only one apple for your apple pie, you get a one-note flavor. It might be too mushy, it might be too tart,” Shogren said. “But when you mix the variety of apples that are complementary to each other, you start getting a really nice texture. You get a sweet and sour blend, and you get the right amount of structure that’s in the center of that pie.”

Similarly, bringing in team members with diverse histories and experiences can contribute to a more robust team. For example, leaders should seek out both people with a lot of experience and knowledge, and those with fresh perspectives.

“It is always exciting to work with somebody who’s new to their position, and you can see how they’re going to grow, what they bring to the table. They often become your biggest supporters when they’re added to that team,” she added.

catering worker, apple crisp
“If pie just isn’t your thing, try the apple crisp,” Shogren said before inviting the audience to join in tasting the treat following her speech. Photo by Walter Criswell/UND Today.

The last piece of the pie, the top crust, is crucial to maintaining the integrity of everything that comes before it. Those ornamental lattice cuts on the top of a pie are there not only for aesthetics purposes, says Shogren, but also to let steam vent from the filling as it bakes in the hot oven.

Much like a pie with a thick piece of dough covering its filling, a team with a restrictive leader will begin to suffer if they feel their concerns are falling on deaf ears, she said.

“If you are a leader who is too rigid and too constricted and you build absolutely zero ability to vent and explore into your leadership style, your entire leadership team is going to burn. It’s going to fall apart,” she said.

Accordingly, Shogren says leaders should be receptive to the same kind of steam-letting that makes the lattice an essential part of the top crust.

“It is OK to expect conflict in the process of creating the leadership team. It’s just part of what has to happen,” she said. “You do need to model respect and civility. You want people to be able to share those ideas. You want them to be able to express their different opinions.”

Finally, Shogren said that while it’s easy to get discouraged if your pie doesn’t turn out right on the first go, it doesn’t mean you should throw away the whole recipe. Sometimes, simple adjustments are all that are needed to bake the perfect pie.

“You don’t give up after the first try to be an effective leader; you need to keep the pieces of the process that work,” she said. “You always need to tweak the things that need a little bit of change, but you have to remember to celebrate the really good things and the things that were successful in your leadership process.”

The 18:83 Speaker Series takes place each Wednesday afternoon at the Memorial Union’s Social Stairs. Speakers time their addresses to approximately 18 minutes and 83 seconds, a number that coincides with the University’s founding year.

The series will continue at 2:30 p.m. April 10 with the dean of UND’s College of Arts & Sciences, Bradley Rundquist.



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