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Weekly Wisdom 5-18-2016

Post Date: 
Wednesday, May 18, 2016


4 Lessons for Aspiring Leaders

            I have reworked an article that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, May 13, 2016 ( I used the writer’s (Kevin Gannon) lessons but interpreted them in my own words. I know. I know. Many of us don’t have aspirations to actually be an administrator, but I think these lessons are applicable to everyone. Everyone has the potential to be a leader.

Not every disagreement is a call to arms. While each of us has responsibility for our own work, maybe even a unit, we also must make an effort to see the larger, institutional picture. We have to make an effort to see what others are struggling with, what creativity is being used to solve interesting problems. Regardless of our position, we have to know what issues are “weighing on colleagues across the university and are, therefore, larger institutional priorities.” It also give us insight into what issues don’t get that attention. Just because a few people are committed to a specific cause, doesn’t mean that it warrants institutional support.  Central Today, talking with co-workers, attending meetings, even keeping abreast of meeting agendas and minutes can give you this perspective.

How and when I use my voice matters. We have a responsibility to advocate for our areas of responsibility. “Sometimes that means speaking truth to power; other times it means speaking truth to colleagues.” Being a leader means a) finding your voice and b) using it for good.
I think one of the most important ways that each of us should use our voice is in the area of equality for people of color and women. “Structures of power and privilege are real, they're insidious, and they're all around us." It is incumbent on all of us to know institutional policies and procedures on discrimination, bullying and workplace harassment, to walk the talk, and to implement them at our individual offices and work units. And when they need to be changed, leaders work to make those changes.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Leaders don’t know everything. Managing multiple projects, budgets, and programming, juggling calendars, remaining prepared for committee work and other meetings…all these things require expertise. Ask for help. “I had to fight the instinct to fake it until you make it.”

No one likes to acknowledge weakness, but honesty is imperative, especially when you don’t know something.” There are always people who are willing to help.

Be good to people (including yourself). Our work lives are really in the details.  But we don’t have to be “involved in every task force, project, or conversation.”  We  need to trust people around us. Minutiae is deadly. ”Leadership has become a matter of knowing and respecting my colleagues all over campus, (and) appreciating it.”

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.