How new presidents can build a strong leadership team (Opinion)

If the recruitment trend is true, this summer and autumn will see hundreds of new college and university presidents step into leadership roles on campus across the country. While much has been written about optimizing early days and weeks in such leadership roles on campus, relatively little attention has been paid to one of the most important tasks of a new president: building and maintaining a high-performance senior leadership team.

The importance of this initial work cannot be overstated. Whether you refer to it as your cabinet, senior staff, senior administrator or any other term, it is a group that you, as president, will spend the most time in your administration. Individually and collectively, these colleagues are important for advancing strategic goals and navigating crises. And while some turnover is normal and expected in a senior team, it’s worth investing in early to see how this team can be in the best position to succeed. After all, repeated churning out senior roles can be a huge drain on a new leader’s most important resources: time, money, speed and confidence.

As a person fortunate enough to hold senior staff seats in multiple college presidencies, I offer the following suggestions to first-time presidents before their initial meeting with their leadership team.

Get to know yourself – and then share what you know. It is impossible for you to understand your new team right now; But you can know yourself. Take time to think about both the minor issues কী how you want to communicate, what kind of agenda you prefer for the meeting — as well as more important issues, such as your own adaptation to conflict. Do you see conflict at the leadership table as a productive way to make the right decisions? Or as a barrier to hearing all voices?

In a spirit of self-awareness, share those reflections with your team. Consider completing the “User’s Manual” exercise, where you respond to prompts such as “What I value”, “What people misunderstand me about” and “How I try to gain your trust”. You can invite team members to do the same for you. Resolving values ​​and operating style questions early আগে before they escalate into bigger problems সাহায্য can help you and your new co-workers get to the real work of leadership.

Be curious One of the advantages of innovation is being able to ask big, generative questions. Why do we run this program like this? What is the history of this tradition? In which constituency does this function serve – and does not serve? Make the most of this special opportunity to ask good questions, not only because the window will close when you and your organization blend in more closely, but your senior colleagues may feel that they can’t afford it: in front of their new boss, they I hope so Already know. By normalizing the weakness of not knowing, you create an ethic in your team of constantly asking and learning.

Think hard. This is good management advice in any context but especially in a presidency where power is high, emergencies are frequent and negotiation time is short. In your first year, you will travel (or zoom in) a lot, establishing relationships with alumni, donors, governing boards, and legislators. Presenting your thought processes verbally to your team, whether in quiet times or in crisis, will give them an idea of ​​how to proceed with the discussion instead, especially in situations where the best path is not clear. “I’m a two-minded person about X but leans towards the Y method because বা” or “usually I would say A, but in this case, I want to make sure we consider B …” And replication.

Understand the leadership path of your team members. You eventually retain or replace your cabinet members, remembering that they were called upon to lead in different situations and under expectations. Everyone is in a different development trajectory একজন from an expert in their area of ​​operation to a strategic contributor across the organization. Moreover, some will experience a change of presidency, others do not; The next group may have a less powerful frame for navigating top-level changes. In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine. ” Remember these differences in your initial meetings with each member and in weighing performance against both past and present criteria.

The duration is getting shorter with the academic presidencies lasting less than seven years on average. Still, they have more in common with marathons than sprints. In order for your term to have an impact, you need to be able to rely on others. A well-thought-out and sustainable, senior team is a strength factor that significantly enhances your presidency, and more professionally and personally sustainable than the sum of its parts.

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