Monday Musings from WKB and a confession about a crappy idea, October 16, 2017 #emchat #admissions #highered #leadership #crappyideas

Colleagues and friends,

What a weekend!

I cannot begin to express my admiration for the Advancement, facilities and dining services teams at Augustana College. There is no doubt in my mind that these professionals are among the finest in the country and their commitment to serving others in unmatched.

Neither a broken elevator in a key building, minor flooding, lightening strikes or even buckets of rain stood in the way of this crew as they worked tirelessly to make sure that alumni returning to campus for Homecoming had a great time.

I witnessed countless displays of cooperation, teamwork and a “we can get this done” spirit. Everyone, especially students working in food services, pitched in, kept an open mind and focused on serving our guests. It was amazing to be a part of it.

While I have no doubt that some of our guests will have some complaints about the weekend, I believe the people of Augustana College did everything possible, under less than ideal conditions, to offer the warmest welcome home possible.


A thought/sight I can’t get out of my mind

 This morning I boarded a plane in Chicago. I flew an economy airline, Spirit Airlines, for the trip and noticed right away that the gates are off the beaten path in O’Hare (Terminal 3, L Gates). This was my first experience with Spirit and I sense that they must fly some of the earlier flights out of the airport. The three flights departing from three different gates were crammed together gates at the end of the L Gates and were headed to New York City, Fort Lauderdale, FL and Las Angeles. These three gates attracted an amazing collection of humans!

In a Facebook post that I wrote while standing there, I highlighted that the scene was the United States. While the scene was representative of the this country, because of the diversity—language, ethnic and religious—that was audible and visible, I expect it was really more representative of our world. It was a collection of people going about everyday things with their families, spouses, partners, colleagues or alone.

It was magnificent to see and hear, and to soak in the rich diversity of the airport on this particular morning.

As I stood there and thought about the challenges we face, I was reminded of the 1980’s Depeche Mode song, “People are people” which includes the following lyric:

“People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully”

 Maybe it’s time for a remake of this song? Maybe it deserves another listen with today’s ears and in today’s context?

I like early mornings in the airport.

Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Major influence: Where students get valued advice on what to study in college—I have provided a link to the overview of a large report, which you can link to, about the influences on a student when it comes to choosing a major and making other education-related decisions. This is worth reading. Perhaps the following line sums it all up, “Put simply, the most valued sources of advice are the least used.” For those of us who have been around for a long time, we already know this. There is no better advocate and advertisement for our colleges than a satisfied student and their parents. But, how do we best influence social networks to make sure messages are clear and accurate.

What do you think? Anything surprise you?

Appealing but ineffective: Why tuition resets aren’t consistently successful—This EAB article by Alex Bloom is one of the best piece I’ve read about tuition resets. The article does not dismiss the value of a reset, but reinforces that it won’t work for everyone, every time. I like the cautions offered because they offer something to the conversation that is often overlooked, specificity. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about tuition resets. I know they work for some. I know the appeal. I don’t have the data to say it won’t work here. But, I think this article helps advance the conversation about the value of tuition resets.

I’ve had some crappy ideas over the year; here’s one.

Several years ago, at Augustana College, I had been doing a lot of reading about generations and leading a team that spanned three generations of (Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials). I’d recognized that each generation responded a little differently to certain suggestion I would make.

For example, when I would suggest that every single student in a particular group needed to be contacted as soon as possible, I witnessed very different actions according to generation.

Boomers would drop everything and take the time needed to individually reach every student. Gen-Xers would work with their team of students to make sure every student was contacted. Millennials sort of looked at me, without a lot of urgency (but politely), and went about business as usual. I was perplexed by it all.

So, I proposed intergenerational, interdepartmental teams of admissions and financial aid staff that I called “micro-teams.” I carefully selected membership to make sure there was representation of each generation and each area. I designed the micro teams to try to create a little competition and to make sure a more nuanced interpretation of suggestions and strategies that I made that I thought might advance the team.

The members of micro-teams humored me for a while and met with some regularity. Some were even pretty creative. However, in the end, micro-teams were a crappy idea.

I think micro-teams were a shortcut to being understood and articulating a clear vision for everyone. Upon reflection, I was outsourcing leadership (not delegating) because I had not figured out how to connect in the right way with each audience. Furthermore, I think I was probably still in a mode of thinking that there is only one correct way to do something and I thought the micro-teams were going to ensure that my view of how to get thing done would get done; I thought my Boomers and Gen-Xers would whip the Millennials into shape. I was stupid and micro-teams were a stupid idea.

I am pretty sure that those folks who are still around Augustana, who were subjected to micro-teams, would agree that they were a crappy idea.

 Something for you (and me) to think about

I finally finished Simon Sinek’s “Leaders eat last.” It is an excellent and inspiring book about leadership, leading teams and finding ways to lead. Sinek discusses a number of really important leadership concepts, but his concluding line nails the essence of what it means to lead. He writes, “We must all start today to do little things for the good of others…one day at a time.” Sinek reinforces that leadership is not about position at all. Leadership is about serving others.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of this book yet, please let me know; I am happy to share my copy with you.

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. And, you can read past issues of my musings at my blog @bowtieadmission



Monday Musings, October 9, 2017 #emchat #admissions #highered

Colleagues and friends,

It’s a busy week at Augustana…

Today we hosted a visit day for prospective students. We had awesome weather and the admissions and enrollment team knocked it out of the park.

We debuted a new video featuring a couple of our current students. I got a little weepy when I watched it the first time and listened hard to one of the vignettes a student shared. Her words reminded me that we have the opportunity to do transform lives when we do our best work.

Later this week we will host the college’s Alumni Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees.

And, it’s homecoming weekend!

I look forward to the opportunity to welcome home so many of our graduates as they return for reunions and to see old friends.

The most difficult thing about this week for me is ensuring that I have enough Augie Blue & Gold bow ties to get through all of the events!


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

 I am still working my way through “Leaders eat last” by Simon Sinek

This weekend, when I found a few minutes to read, I ran across the following passage, which stuck with me. In contrasting “the genius leader” and a leader who distributes responsibility across the organization, Sinek writes the following:

“…when the leader has the humility to distribute power across the organization, the strength of the company becomes less dependent on one person and is thus better able to survive. In this model, instead of trying to command-and-control everything, the leaders devote all their energy to training, building and protecting their people—to managing the Circle of Safety—so that the people can command and control any situation themselves.”

This passage really hit me and made me think about what I am doing and what I need to do.

I once had a boss who told me that his “job was to prepare us to be his replacement.” He was the type of leader who had the humility to think in those terms and I did have the good fortune to “replace” him. However, upon reflection, when I left Etown, I had not done everything I should have done to distribute power across the office to ensure a seamless transition and continuation of some of thing things my predecessor and I had put in place.

I would like to think that I am in a different place today and a different leader.

This idea of distributing power, so that people can command and control any situation themselves, is very appealing and something to aspire to; however, I think this is sometimes a tough sell in higher education. But, as a leader, this is something I can work on daily as I work with my teams and team leaders. It’s my job to ensure everyone feels safe and empowered to make decisions and offer creative solutions.

I ask those of you who read this to hold me accountable and let me know how I am doing.

 Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Turbulent times for enrollment leaders—Peter Farrell’s (Royall & Company) piece about the challenges enrollment leaders face today is well worth reading. I’ve known Peter for 25 years and appreciate his judgment and observations about our work. His advice to: 1. Build Bandwidth; 2. Persist; and, 3. Engage parents is solid and his specific suggestions are very helpful. While there is more to do, his advice is a good starting point.

What do you think? What advice do you have for enrollment leaders in this crazy marketplace?

The Architecture of Enrollment Management—Today I received and email newsletter from Hastings & Chivetta architects. At first I didn’t think much of the email because Augustana has done work with H & C in the past and I figured that this was just another brag piece about their work.  However, upon closer examination, I noticed that this was a completely different piece and the note had a very specific purpose. Because it was an email, I had to cut and paste pictures below, rather provide a link. Check out the pictures:


This is fascinating to me! An architect is going to do an enrollment management audit and assessment.


I don’t know who on their staff is going to be doing this, but I must admit that I am intrigued by all of this. Perhaps, the email should have included the subject line, “Build it and they will come.”

On a more serious note, here are a couple of thoughts:

  1. H & C is very wise to enter the EM space; enrollment is on the mind of every president across the county and everyone is looking for solutions.
  2. H & C seems to know that the arms race is not over, despite what one might read in some of the higher ed media. Facilities matter and the type of assessment they are offering seems sensible to me.
  3. H & C’s efforts are likely to be most appealing to tuition-driven places that are looking for any edge they can find.
  4. I am not convinced that H & C has any real expertise in this area at all and worry that this is really just a ploy to get to presidents.
  5. This move by H & C makes me think about the gift of a toy bulldozer the Etown financial aid staff gave to me during a period of time when there was no active construction going on! I once lamented that we should at minimum always have a bulldozer on campus, whether were doing construction or not, to make prospective students think something is happening. They gave me a bulldozer; it just wasn’t as big as I was expecting.

So, what are your thoughts on this? What’s next for architects? And, do you think they have value to add to the EM space?

 Something for you (and me) to think about

You will soon get to read about some of my crappy ideas!

Last week I tweeted that I was thinking about recollecting and writing about some of my crappy ideas over the years. Much to my surprise, I had a few followers who responded. One follower asked if I was going discuss bad ideas or bad implementation? I figure there are enough of both that I can just answer, “yes” to the questions. Another follower offered praise and suggested that owning failure is really healthy.

So, with that affirmation, I plan to start offering some glimpses into bad ideas, miscalculations, poor execution and half-baked thoughts. You can look forward to learning more about “micro-teams,” stretch territories, badges and institutes for the humanities.

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. And, you can read past issues of my musings at my blog @bowtieadmission

Monday Musings (on Thursday) by WKB

Colleagues and friends,

I am running a little late this week with my Monday Musings; Thursday will have to do.

It’s been a very busy week preparing for the fall meeting of the Augustana College Board of Trustees. It’s the custom at Augustana to post materials for Board review ten days in advance of the Board meeting, which meant that everything for the three committees (Enrollment and Students Engagement, Campus Planning and Advancement) I staff had to be posted by 5 p.m. Monday.

It was a rush to get everything done and posted!

But, it also served as an excellent reminder to me of the great team members from across campus who surround and support me. While I may have the responsibility for organizing and posting the materials, it represents the work of many people, and, it is their contributions that will be celebrated and recognized next week.

I am especially grateful to the Communications & Marketing team at Augustana who do such an amazing job of reviewing, designing and improving the materials shared with the Board of Trustees.


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

 I suspect that by now most of you have had a chance to see Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, Lt. General Jay Silveria’s, powerful address to cadets, faculty and administrators about a racial graffiti at the prep school there. If you’ve not seen it, you must!

I’ve watched it several times and even showed it Jennie and the Barnds kids. It is a powerful message and Lt. Gen. Silveria’s invitation to offer a “better idea” is excellent. The invitation to offer a better idea seems to missing in too many discussions. Again, his message is powerful and right-minded. But, what is also appealing about this video clip is how well it showcases powerful leadership.

This “Come to Jesus” meeting is an amazing thing to witness and to be a part of as an outside observer and serves as a great lesson for leaders.

Beyond the powerful message, Silveria delivers; here are a couple of things that I love about this this address.

I love it because it…

  • Is raw and authentic and personal, which is what we all want from a leader.
  • Leaves no doubt about what it expected, which creates alignment of purpose and understanding.
  • Doesn’t try to please everyone in the room, which is what I think often occurs when leadership has to deliver a tough message.
  • Asks for everyone to do their part and tells them how and what to do.
  • Doesn’t try to do too much.

There is a message in the 5-minute clip that every leader should appreciate. Perhaps those of us in leadership positions will think about this clip the next time we have to deliver good or hard news. Is the message we need to deliver authentic? Does it align? Will it be clearly understood? Does it pass the “don’t try too hard test?” And, is it simple and focused on the most important message?

Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Why fundraisers need to be excellent bear reporters—This piece, which is sponsored by Academic Impressions, but written by James Langley, is really good. It offers advice that is applicable for fundraisers, recruiters and communicators. The qualities that Langley identifies (natural curiosity and a “nose for human interest stories”) are those that make one successful in connecting with people and becoming an effective storyteller. The author offers a couple of great illustrations of “admirable people doing admirable things.” Take a quick look and challenge yourself to think about whether or not you are doing enough on your beat report?

Free college made universities less equal—in England, at least—I ran across this piece from Marketwatch earlier this week and found it to be very interesting. This reinforces an argument about the “cascading effect” that was advanced during the last election season. The cascading effect, related to free college, is when enrollment outpaces slots available at the most prestigious colleges, therefore pushing students pursuing free education to institutions that are less desirable or under resourced. This piece suggests that this may be happening in some countries when college is free. I don’t know what to think about all of this, but I do find myself thinking that the advocates for free college have never contemplated the idea that they might be the ones who are pushed to and institution other than the one that they want to attend for free. I suspect that they are the same people who never entertain the idea that they might be in the 50% of students who don’t graduate from college in four year.

What do you think of free college? What do you think of the analysis in this article? Does free college sound too good to be true?

Something for you (and me) to think about

I can point to a number of people who have been mentors and like the idea of mentoring, but I think it’s a hard thing to get started and keep going. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot and taking inspiration from a group in the Quad Cities called Lead(h)er, which is a woman to woman mentoring program. I and very impressed by the work being done there. I’ve also trying to find examples of successful mentoring programs. While sleuthing around I ran across an article from Forbes, “Mentoring Matters: How more women can get the right people in their corner.” The advice, while intended for women in the workplace, is excellent for anyone seeking mentorship.

How about this for a formula, which is recommend by author, Margie Warrell?

  1. Clarify your ideal mentor
  2. Be brave and ask
  3. Set expectations early
  4. Look beyond the obvious
  5. Make it a two-way value exchange
  6. Mentor other women (even if you doubt what you offer)

Wow! That’s some good stuff for all of us to think about.

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday.

Monday Musings, September 25, 2017 #emchat #admissions #highered

Colleagues and friends,

This past weekend, on- and off-campus, included a variety of activities for Family Weekend and Tribe of Vikings. It was full and rich weekend of engagement. Everywhere I looked I saw the best of Augustana College on display.

Despite the heat and awful humidity, we hosted hundreds happy family members on campus. Late on Saturday afternoon, when I saw Kelly Noack, who does much of the planning together for Family weekend, I was thrilled to hear her say that she was interacting with very happy family throughout the day. Her comments are a great re-affirmation of a recruitment job well done. And, now, we have the opportunity to continue to build on that momentum.

Also on Saturday, I had the opportunity to play golf at TPC Deere Run as part of the Tribe of Viking Golf Outing (yes, I paid my own registration). I played with three guys (two are current parents) who played football at Augustana in the mid-1980s.  It was a great time. I promised a “big number” and I delivered on it! Actually, it was a scramble, which made it possible for me to contribute a shot or two along the way. This was the first time I’ve played in the ToV golf outing and it won’t be the last.

The only disappointment (other than the Viking’s loss) over the weekend was hearing from an alum whose son attended Washington University and played football there. This alum was disappointed his son had never been contacted by Augustana during the recruitment process. As an admissions guy, I was disappointed, too. I hate to hear stories of students we didn’t actively recruit. I could have done something about this if I’d known! As someone now responsible for external relations, I was doubly-disappointed, though. Looking back, we not only lost out on an exceptional student-athlete, but we also distanced an alum who has much to offer Augustana College.

A weekend like this past weekend was a great reminder that everything we do is connected. When we are recruiting students we are directly involved in alumni relations. And, the interactions we have with out alums have a direct impact on recruitment.


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

Pastor Sara Olsen-Smith’s sermon yesterday got me really thinking about a few things. But, in particular, her use of Teddy Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” hit hard. In higher education we spend considerable time benchmarking and comparing ourselves to so-called peers and aspirants. Whether a comparison is some sort of environmental scan or US News & World Report we always seem to be more concerned with comparing how we are doing to someone else, who we believe is doing much better.

While I fully understand the need for comparisons and benchmarking, I do wonder if too much of this results in the work being joyless, rather than joy-filled? Perhaps this powerful sentiment can inspire taking stock of what is going well and celebrate it?

There is so much good happening and there is so much good that we make happen. Let’s leave comparisons as contextual and not let them steal our joy.

Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Applying behavioral science to student support services—The piece by Inside Track really caught my attention. Honestly, nearly everything they do catches my attention; I think they are doing some really amazing work within higher ed. While this piece is specifically about students services, I read with recruitment and fundraising in my mind. The behaviors described and the potential actions/solutions are applicable with prospective students and potential donors. When you read this think carefully about the constituency you work with most frequently and determine how you apply behavior science to moving people to actions you’ve like them to take.

Motivating employees is not about carrots and sticks—Last week I was involved in a conversation with someone in a leadership position that included no “carrots or sticks” because all of the tools are in someone else’s toolkit. I thought to myself, “man, it stinks to be in that position.” But, I was reminded of HBR article I read over the summer. I wish I’d have had the presence of mind to discuss it while in conversation with this person. Lisa Lai’s concluding passage is a good teaser for a great article:

“The bottom line is: Don’t rely on outdated methods and tricks to motivate employees. Talk with your team about the relevance of the work they do every day. Be proactive in identifying and solving problems for your employees. Recognize employee contributions in specific, meaningful ways on a regular basis. Connect with your own motivation, and share it freely with your team. Put away the carrots and sticks and have meaningful conversations instead. You’ll be well on your way to leading a highly motivated team.”

I think the element that appeals most to me is being proactive in identifying and solving problems. It reminds me that a leader’s job is to make sure that people don’t encounter a buzz saw!!! I think most team members will appreciate leadership that is aware of this responsibility!!!

What do you think? Does Lai offer guidance you can follow? Or, are carrots and sticks still the most important tools in one’s leadership toolbox?

Something for you (and me) to think about

I found a list last week that I’d never seen before. How about a list of majors that are the most meaningful? Seriously, Forbes posted The Most Meaningful Majors.

I really like the list, which includes careers like pastoral ministry, counseling, music therapy and laboratory science. In each of these cases, these careers are not only meaningful to practitioners, but also to those who benefit from one’s career choice. As a Lutheran college that makes a lot of noise about “vocation” it would be worth thinking about our footprint in the meaningful majors space.  (I also was drawn to this article because I think the stock photo they used include the Augie A—see below).

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 2.14.43 PM

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday.


Monday Musings, September 18, 2017 #emchat #admissions #highered


Last week was a full week.

Today, as I try desperately to catch up, I feel like I am a bit underwater.  Rest assured, though, I know there are many of you out there who are feeling exactly the same way I am.

I know that some of you are balancing new projects with old commitments; others are in new positions; too many of you are cleaning up messes that shouldn’t be; some are struggling with something personal that is getting in the way of the excellence expected; and, I’ll bet some are waiting for clearer direction on something.

You know who you are, and, I do, too.

But, rather than feeling sorry for you or me; let’s lean on each other and help each other cross things off of lists, get caught up, clearly bake ideas, and, generally, get stuff done (or, if you prefer, insert my PG-13 expression for this action to make it a little more colorful and expressive).

Let’s inspire each other to get things done, rather than dwell on what we have in front of us.

I’ve started to push these musings out via my blog. If you are interested in past edition, feel free to check them out. If you are new to list this (getting this for the first time)  and would like to continue receiving these, shoot me a quick reply and I will add you to my list.


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

My reading took a backseat last week, but as I was reviewing some notes from my progress on Sinek’s book, “Leaders eat last,” I came across a phrase that had I underlined. That line is “We are achievement machines.”  I was prompted me to go back to the book for some context. Why did I underline it and what was the context?

The context for this wonderful phrase is our need, as evolved humans, to collaborate and learn from another to get things done. The author makes a good case that no single individual can accomplish much on his or her own. He argues greatness and achievement comes about through collaboration, cooperation and sharing.

I love the phrase, “we are achievement machines” and am going to think of the teams I am a part of as achievement machines from this point forward. In fact, I might even consider updating my LinkedIn profile to include something like “member of several amazing achievement machines!”

What are the things you and I can do to make sure we are achievement machines?

Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Five things to think about as you hit the road this fall—This excellent piece by RHB is written for admissions professionals, focuses on the recruitment process and offers some suggestions for refreshing the approach this year. But, man, there is a ton of good stuff in this piece for all of us. In fact, the implications for advancement officers for prospect cultivation are quite intriguing, in my view. In particular, getting to no early, choosing the right place to meet and utilizing LinkedIn are worth considering.

What do you think about the recommendations? How might you adjust your approach, based on this thought piece?

The new minority on campus—I’ve been holding onto this article from Hechinger Report for some time because I’ve been a bit reluctant to share this too broadly. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to think of men as a minority or a population that needs more attention. But, a review of our own persistence data suggests that not only do men begin as “a minority” on campuses like ours, they also persist at rates lower than women. It’s hard to say that there is a man problem in higher education, but the evidence is there (and here). The implications are significant.

How can we begin a discussion? How can we make a difference? How do we reconcile that men are not doing well in the college-going and college game?

Somethings for you (and me) to think about

I attended a terrific meeting that included a session about social media on Wednesday of last week while at NACAC. While I know that many of us are trying to figure this whole social thing out, below are some take-aways that are worth pondering.

  1. Social media “is always on, and always there.” Nothing else we do is.
  2. Teens use Facebook as a information network, like Google, rather than a social network.
  3. Social media has two roles: 1. Provide information, which means we better have our stuff together and ensure accuracy and search-ability for things we want people to know about us; and, 2. Demonstrate the experiential, which refers to a user’s ability to verify/authenticate the experience.
  4. Social works best and is more effective when it provides third-party “social proof” of a claim that is searchable.
  5. Facebook will serve up 3 trillion ads in the coming year… yes, that’s a T!

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday.

Monday Musings September 12, 2017

Colleagues and friends,

Apologies for missing last week, because of Labor Day, and getting this to you one day late. But, if your life is anything like mine right now (kids back to school, start-up of soccer and tennis, trips and countless meetings) you’ll understand that some things get pushed to the so-called back burner, and, unfortunately, my Monday Musings fall into that category.

But, I am back!

This is a very busy week with a national conference, several donor meetings and an Alumni Board meeting at my alma mater, Gettysburg College.

I am writing from O’Hare while waiting to get a direct flight to Boston for NACAC (The National Association for College Admissions Counseling). NACAC provides me with the chance to catch up with school counselor colleagues and fellow admissions and enrollment professionals. I always look forward to NACAC. Yet, NACAC has really changed in my 25+ years working in admissions and enrollment work.

NACAC is huge these days. In fact, it’s too damn big, in my opinion. While I appreciate NACAC’s prominence as the flagship organization representing our work, the shear size overwhelms what once was. And, the size has led to a very corporate feel to the whole shebang.

Despite the size and my grumpiness about how large NACAC has grown, the organization is what holds our profession together and this conference, in particular, will test and affirm this. At the conference this year a task force that has been rewriting the Statement of Principles and Good Practices (SPGP) will present a significantly revised version of this code of ethics. I was among those consulted during the exploratory process and when the version was being finalized. I think the work the task force has done is excellent and appreciate the time, care and professionalism that went into this effort.

I hope my fellow members of NACAC will embrace the revised document.


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

Since I started reading Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last, I’ve stumbled across more of his work and last week I ran across the following quote: “A boss has a title. A leader has the people.”

Sinek’s sentiments on this prompt some thought about leadership and creating “followship” among those one is privileged to lead. I wish there was some perfect formula for someone to know that they have the people, but I don’t know what it is.

However, I was interviewed yesterday by a colleague about leadership and my approach and offered the following thoughts: Hire good people. Provide a complete and compelling vision about what you want. Get the hell out of their way. Hold them accountable. Affirm whenever and wherever possible.

I don’t know that I always get this right, but I try. I hope the people who I have the privilege to lead hold me to account in doing these things.

What do you think about the difference between having a title and having the people?

Three things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

Seven Challenges Facing Higher Ed—This article from Forbes is worth reading. While it is a little alarmist, in my view, it’s worth understanding the perspective introduced in this article. You should scan this article to develop your own way to address these concerns/challenges should they be recited to you by prospective students or donors. How would you respond to these challenges? Could you? Do you know enough to speak articulately about how we fit in?

Six Essential Skills of Shared Leadership—I’ve become a fan of the short, but very valuable articles from Korn-Ferry International and found this piece very worthwhile. I think this stuck with me in large part because I was recently involved in a conversation during which someone said, “we can’t make them do it.” It seemed to be a perfect moment to think about shared leadership and the six skills identified in this article: Emotional Self -Awareness, Emotional Self-Control, Adaptability, Empathy, Organizational Awareness and Conflict Management.

The Biggest Misconception about Today’s College Students—This op-ed is an excellent reminder of the breadth of higher education in the US and how small the footprint of small, private colleges is. Read this so you don’t forget where we fit in and who we serve.

Something for you (and me) to think about

I recently attended a retirement celebration for my family physician. It was joyous occasion. There was lots of laughter—primarily at Mark’s expense. There were two things that stood out to me in the evening as people paid tribute to Mark’s nearly 40 years in medicine.

One thing that I made note of was his alleged use of the diagnoses “J.P. ROG.” One of his assistants said it took some courage to ask about this special diagnosis that she’d never heard of previously. She said she researched is and found noting, so she had to ask directly. Mark’s respond was that it stands of “Just Plan Run Out of Gas.” I admit to sometimes feeling like some ideas and a plan are J.P. ROG. It’s an expression I really like and am going to going to continually look for J.P. ROG in what I do.

The other thing that stood out was something someone said and attributed to Albert Einstein. This nurse was complementing Mark’s ease with patience and cited Einstein’s sentiment that “if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t fully understand it.” Man, we could learn a lot from this!

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I add them. I try to get one of these out every Monday.

Monday Musings August 28

Colleagues and friends,

First and foremost, Happy National Bow Tie Day! I trust everyone wore a bow tie today.

Sheesh, last week felt like it lasted a month!

The start of the school year is invigorating, but exhausting at the same time. It seemed like last week was conducted at break-neck speed, with meeting after meeting, and plenty of catch-up on matters that should have been decided or concluded over the summer months. But, in spite of the busyness of the week, it was great to welcome student workers back into the various offices. For me, it was awesome to overhear stories of summer adventures, internships, job and vacations. The return of students always brings a lift in spirits—if not also some added labor.

I hope you felt (or feel) the same lift when your students return home.


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

Last week I started reading Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders eat last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t.” (You may know Sinek from his much shared talk about Millinnials in the workforce). In an early chapter, Sinek writes about a healthy work environment and this passage really stood out to me:

“A supportive and well-managed work environment is good for one’s health. Those who feel they have more control, who feel empowered to make decisions instead of waiting for approval, suffer less stress. Those only doing as they are told, always forced to follow the rules, suffer the most.”

Isn’t this interesting?

This certainly speaks to the idea of empowerment of everyone throughout and organization and reinforces that there may not be only one way to get things done.

Since reading this I’ve thought a lot about “approval” and the perceived burden of approval. Now, I don’t think that Sinek is suggesting that a healthy environment is one in which anything goes. Instead, I think this is an invitation for leaders to hire great people, establish clear expectations and a compelling vision, and then get the hell out of the way.

Three things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

I ran across the two articles below about Generation Z when I was preparing to introduce new faculty at Augustana to our students. It was important to me to provide a larger context about the students who are on campus and I thought these two short pieces were very good to share for those who are not as familiar with Generation Z.

I also found myself thinking that I spend so much time thinking about Millennials in the workforce, that I have probably not given as much thought to Generation Z. Consider this my new focus.

Generation Z vs Millennials: The 8 Difference You Need to Know

8 Key Differences between Gen Z and Millennials

Are you as focused on Generation Z as you should be? Is the campus where you work? Can you clearly see how difference Gen Z is from Millennials?

I will say that it was really affirming to hear from new faculty members anecdotes affirming that Gen Z is here and really does have a different mindset. Among the things that are not as popular among our new students, according to new faculty, are group projects and first day of class, lengthy, introductions.

Why Generation X Might be Our Last, Best Hope –I did not set out to make write about generations, but Jennie read this article to me while we are a trip and I found it to be very interesting (I suppose because it’s about me and many others who I know in leadership positions). I hope you will find it of interest, too. If you need a little teaser, this excerpt might do the job:

“But it’s become clear to me that if this nation has any chance of survival, of carrying its traditions deep into the 21st century, it will in no small part depend on members of my generation, Generation X, the last Americans schooled in the old manner, the last Americans that know how to fold a newspaper, take a joke, and listen to a dirty story without losing their minds.”

Tell me what you think about Gen Xers in leadership. Are they the last hope?

Something for you (and me) to think about

Yesterday at church I served as Assisting Minister and read a passage from Romans, which I think has a lot to do with teamwork. (Romans 12, 4-8)

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.”

It is indeed all of our gifts and resources that, when combined, make it all work.

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I add them. I try to get one of these out every Monday.

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