Leadership is about Standing Between

I still have a lot to learn about leadership. I am slow to delegate, leave projects unfinished and am miserably poor at moving paper from file A to file B. Whatever success I have had as a leader has come from three qualities: I don’t mind being uncomfortable; I am okay with uncertainty; and I enjoy standing between departments to get the really interesting work done.

For the past 6 months, I have been serving my college as Interim Dean of Student Academic Services. This assignment is almost at an end and I have enjoyed the experience very much. In this role I have had the chance to work with my team in the library as well as work more closely with the Center for Teaching Arts, Technology and Distance Ed and the Learning Centers.

These departments are natural allies. All are aligned to develop, organize and deliver the resources and services our students and faculty need to maximize learning. Working together, we have accomplished a lot. We have developed an online plagiarism tutorial, conducted mock research “hospital” workshops, piloted faculty development webinars, implemented classroom iPad pilots, organized a professional development academy and much more.

We did these things. I did not.

I used to think of a leader as someone who stands in front of people to show them the way forward. It is, I think, sometimes more accurate to think of a leader as someone who stands between people to show them the goals and talents they have in common and help them figure out new, interesting ways to put those common interests and gifts to work. That is, at least, the kind of leader I aspire to be.

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5 thoughts on “Leadership is about Standing Between

    1. Thanks. My understanding of leadership is an evolving thing. The world is getting more complex. The days of the authoritarian leader are ending. The best ideas usually don’t come from the top. They come from inside the organization. Great leaders spot those ideas and get them into production quickly.

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      1. I struggle to remember a good boss. I had lots of rubbish ones! I think the ones that collaborated rather than dictated, gave clear direction and acknowlegement, and allowed a good level of autonomy but were always accessible to bounce ideas off. And fun, there has to be some fun!

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