Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 1 - ACE Leadership Academy for Department Chairs

As I mentioned yesterday, I am attending a leadership workshop for department chairs. Today was the first of two days, and I was very impressed with the content and approach. There is much too much information to discuss here, but I will provide some of the highlights of the experience. The workshop is facilitated by several former department chairs who have taken on higher positions as Deans, Vice Presidents, and Provosts at various universities across the United States. Their insights have been very interesting and exceedingly valuable.
Day 1 of the ACE Leadership Academy for Department Chairs.
  • Pressure Over Time is often the only method you can use to achieve your goals. Just like the Grand Canyon was formed over many years, the results of your work may emerge over several years. Just constantly apply gentle pressure toward your desired outcomes. It requires patience, persistence, and a focus on the outcomes and results needed for your organization. 
  • You have to plan your week so that you have time that cannot be interrupted (accept by your boss or her boss). This should be time that you use to focus on the things that are important but get crowded out by the urgent things that always arise. 
  • There will never  be enough resources. Get over it and get to work. Don't waste your time complaining or lamenting the lack of resources. Use your energy to get to work.
  • You are paid to think, not to fill the copier toner. 
  • Delegate administrative things (e.g. scheduling and budget monitoring) to others whenever possible.
  • Be a brave department chair. Have the tough conversations. Expect excellence from your faculty and staff. Lead toward excellence.
4 Words
We were encouraged to create four words that describe us as leaders. I chose the following, after some reflection: Results-Oriented, Respectful, Hard-Working, and Patient.

Strategies for Moving Up to a Dean or Provost Position
The question was asked about what strategies should be employed to continue to move up the administrative ranks. Below are the strategies given by our facilitators (who have done it):
  • Make the decision that you are going to do it. This can be scary, but you must decide and own it.
  • Research what it takes to be a Dean.
    • Talk to Deans - ask them what it is like, what they do on a daily basis.
    • Read the literature on what they do, what they grapple with. Read up on academic leadership.
    • Look at job postings to understand the parameters in greater detail.
  • Do a Gap Analysis. Analyze several dean positions and identify what it takes to be a dean. Then analyze how you hold up against those requirements. Identify the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to develop and gain so that you are prepared for the position.
  • Prepare yourself for the position:
    • Gain diverse experience. Strategically engage on the committees that will make you an excellent candidate for a dean position.
    • Serve on a President or Provost search committee.
    • Participate in a fellows program such as the ACE Fellows program which allows you to interact with many university presidents and gives you a broad, enriched perspective. Some universities also have these kinds of programs internally.
    • Apprentice with a Provost or a President.
  • Simply spend time with Deans, Provosts, and Presidents. Become familiar with the issues they struggle with, their way of leading and communicating, their approaches to their work. 
  • Become very familiar with budgeting and financial structures. This is critical to effective leadership.
  • Build your fundraising experience and expertise. Deans do a lot of fundraising.
  • Ask Deans and Provosts their advice for moving forward.
 Again, it has been a wonderful experience. Great ideas and insights, and I feel blessed to be among such an amazing group of academic administrators!

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