I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the current President for the Great Lakes Association of College and University Housing Officers (GLACUHO). This is a professional association that connects university administrators who work with our residential students on college campuses in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Over the past nine years I have been involved in this association in several ways—as a volunteer, committee member, executive board and now I am in the second year of a tri-Presidency cycle.
Our motto is “Learn, Lead, Serve” and I have always embraced that model as an fantastic way to envision our work within our association. Lately I have realized that this is an excellent mantra for a well-lived life.
Learn: In higher education we frequently talk about the concept of being a “life-long learner” and our field offers us an opportunity to learn something new about students and our world every single day. For some of us that may also mean returning to the classroom for an advanced degree, for others it is a reminder that experience is the best teacher and we have the chance to learn from and with others in a variety of settings.
Last summer our department completed the Strengthsquest assessment as a staff and I learned a lot about myself and how my top five (Achiever, Activator, Woo, Strategic and Maximizer) impact my work. More importantly, I learned about the strengths of my co-workers and this helped me to understand some of them better. I had a new appreciation for their work because I could see their work values reflected in their strengths.
What have you done lately to challenge yourself to learn something new?
Lead: Ask yourself this question:
I am inclined to say E) All of the above. Anyone else feel that way? Those of us in leadership positions on our campuses and/or in professional association roles are challenged to make difficult decisions everyday.
My biggest struggle as a leader is the balance between doing the “best” thing for the particular situation while knowing that you can’t please everyone with every decision you make. Some folks have that filter where they can make big decisions with little concern for peoples’ feelings. I am not hardwired that way. But as a leader it is imperative that I make good decisions that benefit the organization as a whole and I am slowly becoming more comfortable with letting go of the guilt I feel when not everyone supports the decisions I make.
Are you frequently examining your leadership style to determine where you could improve?
Serve: Service is very important to me on a many levels and I do what I can to give back both professionally and personally. When I help an RA go through the job placement process I am reminded of the mentors who took time to mentor me every step of the way. When I serve on boards within the community I am in awe of how much a small group of people can do to have a big impact on the lives of others.
I think we have an obligation to serve when we believe that we have something to offer a particular project, community or organization. Sometimes it seems that serving (in whatever way you define it) gets moved off the priority list due to our busy lives but I often find clarity and an enhanced understanding of myself and the world around me when I am focusing on others.
In 2011 how can you make service a priority? What does that look like for you?
I recently examined my schedule for 7 days. I labeled every item on my calendar—meetings, appointments, class, etc. as either “Learn” “Lead” “Serve” or “Not Applicable”. What I found was that I spent 28% of my week in the “Learn” category and 38% in the “Lead” category. 15% fell into the “Serve” column. As I commit to new opportunities in the future I will continue to think about how I can keep the principles of “Learn, Lead and Serve” at the heart of what I do.
In what ways does the motto “Learn, Lead and Serve” resonate with you?