Leadership Tips

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1- Have Purpose

Establish a goal. Say, you are now an associate dean, and have a goal to be a college president. When should you begin to prepare? Answer - as soon as you know! Ask yourself (and perhaps others you trust) what are your knowledge, skills and strengths. Be honest with yourself. Then seek opportunities to develop and improve to meet the needs of the position. Many of these opportunities are on your campus – like committee work and internal positions at higher levels. Let your supervisors know the skills you want to acquire or improve upon. Find a mentor(s), participate in leadership development on and off campus. All of this will build your confidence as you work toward your career and leadership goal.

2- Know Your Environment

No matter where you work in the institution or which state or college, learn the basic things about the institution and its context - such as how does the college get its revenue, what are the rules and regulations of spending, who has authority to make what decisions, etc. It is also very important to understand the culture of the institution. For example, if it was a two year college and became a four year college, it behaves differently than a college that has always been a technical college. If you believe that the culture needs to be changed – go at it VERY CAREFULLY! – And remember that “culture easts strategy for breakfast!”

3- Know When it is Time to Move On

When you come to work less and less excited about what you have to do, it is an important signal. Ask yourself why. What makes you less enthusiastic? Is it the job and what you are doing? Is it the lack of agreement with your supervisor? Is it that you don’t feel appreciated? Or is it something else? For example, perhaps you are an administrator and you miss the classroom and want to be a faculty member. Or perhaps, you are no longer aligned with your work team and you feel that the environment goes against your principles. All of these (and more) could be signals that it is time to move on. There is no dishonor in that! If your job no longer feels right, then perhaps it is TIME TO MOVE ON!

4- Learn From Your Mistakes

I was in the process of hiring a faculty member, one of the candidates had an outstanding interview and portfolio, way above any of the other candidates. Throughout the process I felt uneasy about this person, I did not know why. I refused to listen to my heart and went ahead and hired her. In the end, she did not fit with our students. That fact became clear in the months that followed. I wish I had listened to that nagging feeling that something was not right. I would have saved all involved much unneeded frustration. The new employee ended up leaving because situation become difficult for all of us. I learned a big lesson. Trust my intuition and insight. I also learned that “facts and data” are important when hiring, but also, so is fit.  

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