‘Common Sense Leadership When You Don’t Feel So Leader-y’

Every curling match begins with handshakes and teams telling each other “good curling.” Every curling match ends that way. These bookends set the tone for a sport that is high on sportsmanship and, according to Jesse Lavery,  assistant vice president of college relations and digital strategy at Alleghany College (and an avid curler), and are an example of setting tone that makes for a better leadership style.

In his HighEdWeb 2018 presentation, “Common Sense Leadership When You Don’t Feel So Leader-y,” Jesse noted that many of us take on leadership roles without enough leadership and training (because we’re a conjurer or awesome on a specific thing). He mentioned that he suspected there was some imposter syndrome, and many heads nodded.

Jesse focused on four different themes for how to get better, with questions and suggestions.

You, part one

  • How do other people see you … on-campus, own department, own office?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your communication style?
  • What is your learning style?
  • If you were your own boss, how would you see yourself as an employee?
  • If you were your own employee, how would you see yourself as boss?
  • You can always build or rebuild your profile
  • Build trust
  • Be visible … to your boss, on committees, to other leaders on campus
  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Be reliable
  • Be indispensible — become the go-to human for things, are there things people don’t know where you can build yourself

Your team

  • Ask about preferred communication styles
  • Set examples of how broader communication should work: should they expect emails off their work times
  • Set clear expectations and stick to them
  • Create a culture of experimentation — so key in what we do
  • Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow
  • It’s not failure, it’s an extra data point
  • Actively take care of your team
  • You have to care about your team … remember that they care about your future/school’s future
  • Have fun: Silly is good
  • Ask 4 questions about your team:
    • Do they understand where the school is headed? Goals? Challenges? Position in broader landscape?
    • Do your people understand how their work contributes to larger objectives?
    • Do your people feel valued? (How do you know? Do you praises others to each other?)
    • Are you setting your people up for a bright future? (How are you helping them grow?)

Your tools

  • Think about how you can better utilize technology
  • What do you like, and can you make it easy for others?
  • Take them to the next level, for example: can you use a CRM for your on-campus clients?

You, part two: It starts and ends with you!

  • Who are you really? You are not your job title. You are not your job.
  • Hobbies are good. Downtime is a good thing.
  • Do something with your hands that give something to show for it.
  • Find a mentor, or at least somebody who can listen and talk.
  • Lean on your (HighEdWeb) friends.
  • Sleep.
  • Focus on general health, well-being, self-care.
  • Givers (and leaders) don’t have anything to give if they don’t refill themselves.
  • If you’re taking care of yourself, your team and your team and everybody will benefit.
  • Put creative time on your calendar: Block it for creative thinking.
  • Own your own time.

This summation doesn’t really do Jesse’s talk justice. In getting us to ponder and answer these questions, he did a wonderful job of setting ourselves — and our teams — up for more likely success.