[Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Sue Workman, Leadership Coach at MOR Associates. Sue may be reached at email@example.com.]
It’s Back to School! This time of year always has excitement in the air, a feeling that a fresh adventure is about to begin. The campus is buzzing with new faces, parents leaving their beloved children – some of them happy, some of them sad. Strangers become friends. There is a special, hopeful energy unique to this time of year as the leaves and daylight begin to change. New beginnings, new backpacks, new clothes, people asking for directions, and perhaps most pertinent to this audience – new computers and technology connecting to our networks that are accessing software and texts used for inspired teaching, learning, and researching. It’s a new beginning. (And personally, I still have the urge to buy a new box of crayons.) A new academic year, new challenges, new requirements, and new chance to lead.
Are you ready? If you lead a team, are they ready? It’s GO time! What do you want to accomplish this semester? This academic year? What are your strategic priorities? Have you properly communicated the priorities? The start of a new academic year is a great time to think about more than today’s to-do list by defining your longer-term strategies to get to your desired future state.
If I had to pick the most important thing that I learned from the many teachings of MOR, it is to be intentional. Intentional with your time. Intentional with your actions. Intentional with your words. Intentional with your leadership. Intentional with your listening. Every day, every moment is begging for your intention and attention. This is a great opportunity to pause, think, and analyze your desired future state, define where you are now, and identify how to fill the gap. Sometimes you do this alone, but often the best outcomes result when you involve others – it may be your team, it may be a group of innovative individuals from various units at the university, it may be colleagues from other universities, or likely some combination of these.
The pandemic required that we switch from longer-term strategic planning to acting as fast as possible to address the urgent changes needed and requirements of the moment. This was perhaps challenging and exciting at the beginning, but the sustained pressure of immediacy can be exhausting, and it is also habit-forming - changing our leadership focus to just respond to the absolute needs of the moment. Addressing the immediate doesn’t require deep thinking. We likely will not achieve our larger strategic goals without intentionally thinking, planning, and acting upon them. We need to move from responding to adapting and transforming to best serve the long-term needs of our organizations.
I hope you enjoy this time of the year at your campus. Take a moment, go outside, talk with students, talk with faculty. Learn what they want and expect, and perhaps just as importantly, what they don’t want. How has this changed from last year? Then, let those conversations and the energy of the season inform your intentions and strategic thinking and planning. It’s GO time!
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