Few Signs Of A Great College Leader

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Great college leaders make things better for their employees, fully prepare their students and make their colleges stronger. To accomplish goals like that, they need the full support of their entire college community. By bringing the college together, inspiring cohesive, effective and enthusiastic work groups and moving everyone toward a powerful Vision, great college leaders guide their organizations into a better future.

The best leaders:

1. Have A Clear Vision Of Where They Are Trying To Go

a. Create The Vision – The best college leaders create a Beneficial Vision of the future and work to make that future come true. A clear and concise Vision Statement is communicated to everyone. With that Vision Statement as a guide, each department, group and individual can identify and pursue missions that will move the college closer to the ideal. Together, all of the missions will enable the college to achieve their Vision of how things should be.

A College Leader’s Vision Statement:

A 100% student graduation rate with a 100% employment success rate.

b. Solve The Problems Of Today – What problems are holding the college back? Great leaders are courageous. They are not afraid to address the tuff issues: people, politics, finances, bureaucracy, resistance to the changing world, competition and student needs.

c. Anticipate The Future – The best leaders focus on the issues that enable a college to serve its students better than the competition. Leaders who see the future clearly and move their organizations in the right direction will be rewarded by more students who achieve success and notoriety. Whatever a college becomes tomorrow is determined by what the college leaders are doing today.

d. Move Forward – All successful colleges change their direction, people and services to meet the needs of their customers (students). They also change in order to improve performance, stay competitive and ensure financially stability. Any college leader who does not recognize the need to continually improve and adjust to a changing world is leading the college nowhere.

2. Are Highly Effective Communicators

a. Communicate The Vision – Effective leaders generate emotion as they clearly and enthusiastically communicate the Vision and its importance to everyone in the college community. They know that the Vision must be embraced and highly valued by everyone who will carry it out. That is why they carefully explain how much better things can be when the Vision is achieved. To that end, they make a personal and powerful appeal to each and every employee asking them to help the college achieve something great.

b. Clarify Individual Roles – To achieve the Vision, all members of the college community must know the roles they play and how those roles contribute to the Vision. It is the leader’s job to ensure that all employees have the right capabilities and do their best to support the Vision, the College and the Students.

c. Make Time For Employees and Students – The best college leaders regularly make time to talk with and listen to employees and students. They attend meetings and events where employees and students will be present to see and hear what is going on. Employee and student ideas and suggestions are appreciated and valued. Good ideas are implemented, no matter where they come from.

d. Reinforce Good Performance – Great college leaders find a variety of ways to visibly reinforce performance that supports the Vision. They may praise, recognize or promote employees who are doing a good job. They may also make presentations, write about or even brag to others about employee performance, the results that have been achieved and the milestones that have been passed.

3. Put The Vision, Their Employees And Students First

a. The Vision – Great leaders know that the Vision cannot be theirs alone. It must be shared with the people who will take the college to the right place. These leaders make certain that every member of the college community knows exactly where they are trying to go and how employees can help. When employees are not clear about where the college is going, why the leader is taking them there and how they can contribute, they feel left out, fail to buy in and lose interest. That’s why exceptional leaders keep the Vision fresh, alive and always in front of their employees.

b. Employees – Effective leaders know that employees want to contribute to the success of the organization. These leaders see their jobs as that of making it as easy as possible for employees to complete their assignments successfully. They always make certain that employees have the training, information, tools, resources and support needed to get their jobs done well. They realize that employees are usually the happiest when they can take pride in doing something that is important.

Great leaders expect employees to use the Vision Statement as a guide to carry out their missions. With the Vision Statement as a guide, employees are encouraged to use their judgment, initiative, creativity and decision-making skills to get their jobs done, help their students and support the Vision without always having to check with someone else.

c. Students – Exceptional college leaders recognize that colleges exist to serve the academic, experiential learning and job search preparation needs of students. These leaders value their students and understand that without students there is no college. Therefore, they make certain that the college meets or exceeds the needs of their students.
To serve students effectively, college leaders must listen to their students and utilize their best ideas and suggestions.

d. Leaders – Great leaders put the most important things first. College leaders must lead their organizations into the future by addressing the needs of their campus communities. The best leaders carefully and deliberately plant the seeds of success by making employees feel valued and appreciated before they ask them to fulfill their missions and pursue the Vision.

4. Have Exceptional People Skills

a. Motivate Everyone – Great leaders turn people on and motivate them to perform at the highest levels, even in the face of difficulties and challenges. They make the Vision real, personal and important for employees at all levels of the organization. They demonstrate the ability to inspire everyone to do their best work. Great leaders are cheerful and animated, tell stories, provide inspiration, answer questions, listen and explain the needs. They never use anger to intimidate subordinates or students.

b. Build Morale – Effective leaders create a work environment and culture that allows employees to demonstrate their capabilities and do meaningful work. They make people feel needed, important and valued. They treat everyone fairly, but not necessarily the same. These leaders give employees what they need to get their jobs done. Importantly, they cheer their employees on and support them, when the going gets tough.

c. Can Be Trusted – To be trusted, leaders must be consistent in their words, behaviors, standards and expectations. Employees need to know what is expected of them and how they will be judged. Additionally, employees must believe that the leader will have their backs, as long as they are pursuing the Vision and acting in the best interests of the college and the students.

d. Trust Employees – Confident leaders trust their employees. They know that their employees are trying to do the right thing. When the leader/employee relationship is not one of mutual trust, employees will never perform at their best.

e. Show Concern – Caring leaders are truly concerned about the college, their employees and their students. They strive to make things better. Great leaders work tirelessly to solve problems, provide opportunities, supply resources and support for the employees who will do the heavy lifting. Their words and actions are genuine and come from the heart.

f. Are Present and Available – Trusted leaders do not hide from employees and students, They put themselves in the flow of employee and student communication. The best leaders know that they will never be successful, if they lead from an ivory tower.

g. Make The Vision Real – Exceptional leaders help employees understand and believe in the Vision. They show them that the Vision is attainable. They work to unleash employee performance beyond normal expectations. Employees will only buy into a Vision when it touches them, inspires them and has personal meaning for them.

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