Running a business or managing a team exerts a good deal of energy on a normal day. Keeping up in these new moments and figuring out the next best step, is an entirely new landscape. As a dean in higher education we try to focus on “training the workforce for future jobs that don’t yet exist”. I can type this sentence with ease but figuring out how to do this work is an entirely different story. I believe that what I learn from other leaders will be a vital piece in finding a solution.
Imagining what each of you working in and/or running a business must be feeling is difficult. Especially when considering the impact of artificial intelligence, the changing landscape of work life and workforce changes with retiring employees’, all this and more can impede one’s ability to create a solid strategic plan.
Take as an example, did any of us plan for a global pandemic as part of our strategic strategy? Issues such as these can leave leaders asking where should we focus our attention? Moreover, we begin wondering what other leaders are doing to manage these steep and unanticipated changes? Asking how one shifts from the immediate crisis into what is the next step, while taking into account that there are plenty of unknowns.
For me, at the time of our big work life change, I decided to look closely at my team and take into account their strengths. Examining what they are doing well and considering how those skills can be applied to tasks and situations we have never encountered. Then I asked myself how I can help expand those skills in a way that gives them more depth to navigate challenging times.
When the world went into stay and work from home alongside shifting to online learning I was panicking. Almost all of my courses were face to face and being a cost recovery department within the college requires that I continue bringing in revenue.
What helped me pull out of what felt like a nosedive was my team. What I gathered strength from was all the ways I had fostered sincere and candid conversations. The team culture had been built upon a foundation where their ideas and analysis already mattered, and they had seen me act upon their suggestion’s countless times. It was clear that I could not lead us out of this alone, I needed them, their passion and their commitment to our goals and the College mission.
Combined with this unique team culture, I reflected on all the conversations we had in regard to our big dreaming and the considerations of what might be our barriers to success. These conversations that did not lead at that time to anything productive, now became the impetus of our immediate action plan.
During these conversations, it had been easy for me to dismiss the power of these impromptu moments. Looking back now I see that this invested time became the building blocks I needed to pivot quickly and effectively.
Standing today I am proud of my team and what they have created to help serve our community needs. I feel forever fortunate to be in this role and I shy away from the term leader, yet it was all the little leadership moments and open opportunities for my own growth that allowed me to make quick decisions. The result is that a few short months later we are stronger than we were before the start of all the global change.
I am going to reason that you yourself are a leader and are curious about other styles and strategies. I know I still have a lot to learn from other leaders and from my team. For me this will be a lifelong pursuit. What about you? What do you do to nurture the leader in you?
It is always a relevant strategy to invest in a leader’s growth. This is something you could do as a next step for yourself and your team.
NLC Continuing Education has a number of leadership courses that can support your career growth goals. Additionally, I have found courses not solely focused on leadership can be just as powerful used in the context of building a leadership toolbox, and we have plenty of those too.
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From the Dean's Desk
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