Dear colleagues and friends,
I did not write anything last week because I spent Labor Day cleaning the pantry at home. I know that sounds really glamourous. But, I am back this week with a few thoughts to share with you.
We are in week three of the fall term and while it feels like the campus community is settling into a routine and our students are getting into a nice groove, it feels exactly the opposite in the world of External Relations. In fact, it feels like the pace is picking up, which is a very good thing.
I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such a strong, creative and talented team of higher education professionals. Here’s a glimpse of what’s going on here.
The amazing financial aid staff at Augustana College continues to work with current students and manage all of the external reporting that is required this time of year. Augustana is very fortunate the have the best and hardest-working financial aid staff in the country. I may be slightly biased.
The recruitment staff is making final arrangements for fall travel and I am getting that sense of nervous excitement from everyone as the time draws nearer. There were lots of Rep Visits love at the most recent admissions staff meeting! Also, last Friday EVERYONE from the Admissions Staff was at our every-other-week staff meeting. Karen Dahlstrom could not recall the last time that happened. Others on the team are preparing for application review and fall visits to campus.
The advancement team is neck-deep in planning for Homecoming, Parents’ Weekend and our Campaign Kick-Off. Meanwhile, gift officers are doing excellent work positioning the case for our campaign and support of Augustana. Everyone is focused and excited about what will be a very busy fall.
Communications & Marketing continues to do absolutely amazing work both on and off campus. I am always impressed by the work they do and how effectively they tell the story of Augustana College. I wanted to share this new addition, which they designed and may be found in the campus bookstore.
What do you think of President Steve Bahls’ new travel suitcase?
I really dig it! Now, I of course wanted the link featured on the front of the suitcase to be to submit an application or make a gift, but I’ll settle for Augustana.edu.
I hope everyone out there is having a great start up to the academic year, too.
A thought I can’t get out of my mind
Over the summer, Brandon Busteed of Gallup shared something that I’ve been searching out since I read it first on LinkedIn. I finally found it over this past weekend.
Busteed recalled that when he started at Gallup, he interviewed leaders from across industries to try learn more about what leads to “a great job and great life.”
One of the individuals interviewed was Danny Kahneman, who is a Senior Scientist at Gallup and a Nobel Laureate. Busteed shared in his post a fascinating response from Kahneman, who replied, “That’s very simple…it’s TO CHANGE WHAT YOU BELIEVE.”
I’ve been thinking about this since I first read it and trying to think about how this applies to leaders and leadership. So often leaders are expected to have all of the answers. How can they have all of the answers? Furthermore, what worked once upon a time might not today. How far can one dig in?
When I think of our politics it seems as though changing what one believes is seen as a weakness or liability. Sadly, I think this bleeds over into higher ed.
Having the confidence and support to change your mind when confronted with new information or evidence should be a core competency of an effective leader.
What do you think about this?
Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)
Panicked universities in search of students and adding thousands of new majors–This article from Hechinger Report is worth reading, but I really hope the ratings agencies won’t do so! This piece paints a pretty bleak picture many places face when adding programs and I fear that more journalism like this could derail mission-driven program additions that are well thought out and important to institutional growth and sustainability. But, I am also sure that there are plenty of places that add programs as a “Hail Mary” instead of thinking carefully about mission, demand and fit. I just hope articles like this don’t have an unfavorable impact on right-minded program additions.
What do you think? Too many programs being added for too few students?
Build self-awareness with help from your team-This is a great article from HBR written by Audrey Epstein that is worth your time. As many of you know, I completed a 360-review last year and continue to be very interested in self-improvement. In fact, last week I received some feedback about one of the areas that I am committed to improving upon. I noted this feedback and realize I still have some room to improve in this area.
This particular piece offers some solid advice that is summarized by Epstein in the following:
She writes, “If you want candid feedback, trust, and support from your teammates, try these five tips:
- Assume positive intent. Give your teammates the benefit of the doubt. Assume they are providing feedback not to judge you but to make you better.
- Talk to your teammates, not about them. You can’t solve problems with gossip. Venting without follow-up action ensures that you are building cliques and solidifying rifts. It takes courage, but talking directly and respectfully with teammates when something goes wrong can solve many misunderstandings without creating drama or bringing others into it.
- Care about your teammates’ success. Start by taking an interest in your teammates’ success. Ask questions about their concerns, know what their goals are, help where you can, and be a good listener and collaborator. You can’t be a Loyalist teammate if you don’t know what drives others’ success.
- Push your teammates to do their best work and vice versa. On Loyalist Teams, team members challenge each other to reach their goals. Loyalists don’t spend energy watching their own backs, so they take risks and reach higher. Start by asking your teammates to challenge you. Bring them ideas and ask for input. Ask for feedback on your plans. Embrace the idea that your teammates make you better.
- Ask for personal feedback. Before offering feedback, ask for it first. Ask your teammates what you could do to better support their success. Ask peers for suggestions on one behavior you could work on to become a better teammate. Give permission for teammates to share feedback by asking for it regularly and listening openly. Thank others for giving you feedback.”
That all seems like a pretty good advice to me. How about you?
Something for you (and me) to think about
Last week a former colleague sent me a kind note and offered a book recommendation. The book recommended was Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson’s “The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of The Customer Conversation.” I was unfamiliar with the book and author, but sufficiently curious that I bought the book and am now halfway through reading it. I’ll have more to share in future musings, but in a nutshell the author makes the case that the people who are best equipped to make a case are not always those with the deepest personal relations, but instead those who are “challengers.” His premise is that in a world of greater commodification, “solution selling” by challengers is going to be most effective.
This passage provides a glimpse:
“Solution selling is largely driven by suppliers’ attempts to escape dramatically increasing commoditization pressure as individual products and services become less differentiated over time. Because it is harder for a competitor to offer the full spectrum of capabilities comprising a well-designed solution bundle, it’s much easier to protect pricing in a solution side sale than in a traditional product sale.”
Now I know that sound really corporate and really salesy, but what lies beneath is a belief that those responsible for developing relations must ask deeper questions and propose solutions that cannot be matched by others. To me, this sounds an awful lot like recruitment and fundraising.
I think you can be on the lookout for a book recommendation or some assigned reading in the near future.
Is there something you’d like me to muse upon?
If you are curious about a topic or would like some musings about something in particular, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add anyone who might benefit (or have mild interest). I try to get one of these out every Monday. Past issues of my musings can be found at my blog @bowtieadmission
***This blogpost was updated on 9-11-2018 to provide a correction to the authors of “The Challenger Sale.”