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Advice for Leaders

By Kim Marshall, TIE columnist

The article: “4 Lessons for Aspiring Administrators” by Kevin Gannon in The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 13, 2016 (Vol. LXII, #35, p. A32),
In this Chronicle of Higher Education article, Kevin Gannon (Grand View University) reflects on what he’s learned taking on administrative roles. Almost all of it applies to K-12:
• Not every disagreement is a call to arms. With expanded responsibilities, Gannon sees the bigger picture and is less likely to get caught up in parochial battles that aren’t helpful to the broader institutional purpose.
• How and when I use my voice matters. “As I see it,” says Gannon, “my job requires that I advocate for both faculty members and students, and for both teaching and learning. Sometimes that means speaking truth to power; other times it means speaking truth to colleagues.” This is especially important with issues of gender, race, and bullying.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Gannon knew that he lacked training and experience with budgeting and project management and successfully overcame the instinct to “fake it until you make it.”
• Be good to people (including yourself). “It’s difficult to balance the central mission of the institution – teaching and learning – with all the things that happen on a daily basis ostensibly aimed at fulfilling that mission,” says Gannon. “It’s all too easy to let the minutiae detract from the larger goal… I’m not useful to anyone I serve if I’m overcommitted.”
He’s realized that “leadership is more than talking loudly in every forum. Support, affirmation, and collegiality are more important. For me, leadership has become a matter of knowing and respecting my colleagues all over the campus, appreciating the work they do, and letting them know it… There’s no daily quota on thank you’s.”

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