Yesterday I re-posted this article from Inside Higher Ed which asked important questions about if we are hired in higher education to be “change-makers” or “care-takers?”
A change maker, the author stated, is innovative, pushes to make needed adjustments in the organization and can also be feared by those who resist any kind of difference in standard operating procedures.
In contrast, a care taker, preserves the status quo and is charged with keeping everything (and everyone?) stagnant.
While I do not agree with every point this author made there is one that really resonated with me:
“I had a leadership and management style that was dramatically different from Mr. Nice Guy before me. He tried to lead by consensus, a model that I think leads to lowest-common-denominator decision-making.”
Don’t get me wrong–getting buy-in is totally important. Gaining allies around a new initiative is really helpful too but ultimately you (as the leader) are challenged with making the decision. Aiming for consensus every single time doesn’t make you a strong leader, it indicates weakness and an inability to lead, in my opinion.
While there were many comments on my Facebook post about this article and this particular quote, what amazed me is that I received several phone calls, a series of text messages and a half dozen emails about this. Clearly it had struck a nerve.
Some folks thought that sentiment about consensus way off the mark. We work in higher ed, a few folks told me, consensus is always necessary.
Others shared their support for the author and her candid thoughts about what happens when we lack action, direction and innovation from colleagues and supervisors.
I believe there should be an urgency to our work. We should be able to demonstrate (every day!) that we earn our salaries, we add value to the student experience and we are contributing in meaningful ways.
If not, we should be fired. No matter how close we are to retirement. No matter how long we have worked for the institution. Because to keep us hurts our department, the institution and (most importantly) does not contribute to student success.
This morning I received an email from Matt Bloomingdale who had struggled with the initial article. His email said:
“I woke up this morning angry. You should be angry too. We’re not the person in that article. You’re better. I’m better. We should be better. So I’m going to fix it.
Because we shouldn’t either be change-makers or caretakers. We should be problem-solvers and action takers.”
Well stated, Matt. Matt challenges us think that we should aim even higher than a change-maker. Because to settle for anything less simply isn’t an option. During a time where the cost of higher education is skyrocketing we have to be able to provide students with the tools necessary for success post-graduation. There is simply too much at stake.
What are your overall thoughts on the article from Inside Higher Ed?
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