Five Newbie Mistakes Made by Academic Leaders
The first six months (or even year) of a position is often called an academic leader’s “honeymoon period.” People are more likely to overlook an administrator’s mistakes and to cut the person a little bit of slack about taking the institution or program in a new direction. That’s a good thing, because new academic leaders frequently get in their own way by committing five mistakes due to inexperience—at times bringing their honeymoon period to a sudden, inglorious close. Although these five newbie mistakes are most common among academic leaders who are brought in from the outside, a few of them are also committed by those who are new to their jobs within the same institution.
Academic Leader as Communicator-in-Chief
Those of us who have served our institutions as deans or provosts know that leadership requires many skills—some of which we bring to the job and some of which we develop in office. I think that the ability to communicate effectively is one that is always a work in progress—partly because it is so challenging and partly because it demands abilities that are not inherent in the leader’s personality. Yes, we have budgets to manage, decisions to make, and innovations to pursue, but if we do not take seriously our roles as “communicators-in-chief,” we will likely not fare well in the many tasks that accompany our administrative responsibilities.
Best Practices in Preparing Academic Leaders
It’s increasingly common for colleges and universities to offer programs designed to help chairs, deans, and other academic leaders become more effective. Sometimes falling under a center for teaching and learning, at other times existing as an independent office for leadership and professional development, these programs reflect the recognition that college administrators often come to their jobs woefully underprepared for their responsibilities. How can institutions know whether their academic leadership initiatives are worth the resources they require? Here are five practices commonly followed by successful leadership training programs.
The Academic Leader’s Role in Promoting Inclusive Excellence
What atmosphere are you creating at work? Institutional polices form a threshold for promoting access and equity, but it’s up to academic leaders to create an environment in which people feel creative, productive, and engaged—an idea known as inclusive excellence.
When Academic Leadership Comes with Baggage
The baggage we bring to work with us can take a variety of forms. It could occur because we applied for our positions as internal candidates and suddenly find ourselves as bosses of the very people who only a short time ago we regarded as close friends. It could occur because we find ourselves in charge of a department or college in which a current or former mentor, romantic partner, or spouse works. It could occur because we develop a special affinity for someone who reports to us—or to whom we report—and we need to set aside those personal feelings when it comes to making a decision. In all too many cases, baggage places us in a lose-lose situation. If you decide in favor of your friend/lover/mentor, you’ll be accused of playing favorites. If you make a decision to that person’s detriment, the personal relationship could easily be strained.