“Powering Growth through Momentum”
“Don’t you love those wonderful days when you wake up before your alarm clock goes off, your hair looks just right, you hit all the green lights on the way to work, you have a great day planned, and with every minute that passes things just keep getting better and better? . . . . You are on a roll!”
That perfect start to your day is called momentum. We have been learning about the power of small changes. Once you get the ball rolling toward change in your personal and professional life, you begin powering the process of growth. Your momentum speeds you through the challenges of daily life and even helps you overcome those large obstacles that periodically stand in your path.
“The process of powering growth through momentum involves five stages:
- Identifying your starting point;
- Aligning your energies with your life’s purpose and passion to begin the process of change;
- Drawing upon your strengths to create a strategy that will shape your identity;
- Creating systems to regularly feed growth;
- Keeping your growth on track toward long-term goals.”
One of the great lessons in life is that it is the difficult times that strengthen us. One writer puts it this way “great leaders stand out when times are hard.” Hard times or challenges can force us to stop and re-evaluate and create a plan for pushing through. As you begin to re-evaluate your life, focus on your purpose and passion and the goals you set a few weeks back. Don’t take your eyes off your purpose and passion – keep the ball rolling and continue to gain momentum.
The author of “The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change,” focused her attention on growth in the following four areas:
- Education: She read more, studied, and attended conferences to increase her understanding of her profession (financial advisor);
- Productivity: She wanted to improve her understanding of the current technology;
- Organization: She wanted to de-clutter her work environment and create a system of paper management to make her life more efficient;
- Processes and Systems: She wanted to implement repeatable processes and systems to increase customer satisfaction.
Wherever you are in your professional life, you must decide to move toward meaningful change if that is your goal. You need to understand what is sweeping you along your current trajectory. The following micro-actions can aid in getting you started:
Micro-Action: Describe your starting point by asking yourself a series of questions, such as:
a) Does your job allow you to utilize your gifts and talents fully?
b) Is a lack of skills preventing you from moving forward in your company/institution?
c) Are you able to share your strengths in your current workplace?
d) Are you really in the right career?
After completing the analysis of your “starting point,” take the necessary steps to get the ball rolling – align your work with your purpose, passion, and strengths in order to gain momentum.
Micro-Action: In the next seven minutes, write the answers to the questions in the first micro-action.
Micro-Action: If you want to be different, you must create a strategy and your story. We spoke in previous weeks about developing your elevator speech – a statement that sets you apart from others in your professional environment.
Micro Action: Create your story. Your story gives you a competitive advantage. Take seven to ten minutes to describe your story.
If some of these micro-actions appear to be repetitive, remember that change does not happen instantly. We have to be persistent in our efforts. We have to keep doing some things until they become second-nature. “We have to practice changing day after day in order to become a different person and to use the momentum of each day’s successes to power on through a lifetime of growth and development.”
Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.
“Choosing Success – Every Day”
In the last three weeks we have reviewed the framework for achieving change through actionable ideas that lead to a successful life which include: expanding our knowledge base, following specific strategies, and committing to a daily action plan. Part of that framework also includes the choices we make and our daily rituals and routines (habits).
“Consider this: For the most part, life is a series of daily habits. That idea may sound simple, but it is also quite powerful. You often hear people talk about ‘the rhythm of life’ when talking about nature – the changing seasons, migration, the cycle of birth and death. Well, the daily acts that make up your existence are part of the same rhythm. You wake up, get dressed and ready for work, and drive the familiar route to the office; get your first cup of coffee . . .” You get the idea.
Your first actionable idea for this week is: daily routines can be empowering. “If you are in the habit of reflecting success in the small things you do every day, you are preparing yourself to be successful in the unordinary aspects of your day.” Focus on developing healthy routine skills such as:
Believing in your ability – “On average we criticize ourselves over 400 times every day. Harsh criticism does not motivate or nurture most people. Change and growth occurs through encouragement and increased self-esteem. . . We can achieve more when we have a fundamental belief in our abilities to do more. This is the first step in moving to the rhythm of success.”
Communicating success through body language (clothing and presence) – “People hear your words, but they mainly listen to you through a subconscious filter. They ‘hear’ your eye contact, they ‘hear’ your smile, and they ‘hear’ your overall body language.” Jack Griffin provides some great examples of reading body language in his book “How to Say It at Work: Putting Yourself Across with Power Words, Phrases, Body Language, and Communication Secrets.” Here are some classic examples of fear that people communicate through body language:
- Swinging legs, tapping feet, or otherwise being ‘fidgety.’ Those types of moves spring from nervousness and sends the signal that you are inadequate for the job;
- Crossed arms. Expresses an unwillingness to move forward and insecurity – you are unconsciously protecting yourself;
- Lack of eye contact. Communicates a lack of confidence in yourself or your thoughts; you are not focused; and what you are saying is unbelievable;
- Biting or repeatedly licking the lips. Another sign of nervousness;
- Twirling the hair or making aimless hand gestures. Also signs of insecurity;
- Open palms/closed palms. Open palm gestures reflect openness and a willingness to help, whereas closed fist suggests a need for authority. When people hide their hands behind their back, they may be hiding the truth.
Sending signals of confidence are important to a successful life. To be a leader, you must present yourself as a leader. You must walk, talk and dress like a leader.
Micro-Action: Make an effective entrance – enter with a purpose so people can see that you are glad to be there and let them know that you appreciate their presence, and you are ready to serve them with all the enthusiasm you have.
Micro-Action: Stand up straight and walk tall (proudly) – You don’t have to be six feet to walk tall. Research tells us that tall women and men have an advantage in the business world. While we might not be tall and cannot change our actual height, our posture and stance can determine how tall others perceive us to be.
Micro-Action: Be a strong presence – First, and always, maintain good eye contact with others in the room, and use your smile to put others at ease; position yourself well in important meetings; communicate with relaxed energy; listen actively, and dress with respect for others in the room (casual is not acceptable, unless expressly stated).
Networking to communicate a knowledge of your profession and the people you serve – Networking is an essential element of the rhythm of any successful businessperson or leaders’ life. As you gain practice in networking, it becomes second nature to you, and it deepens your understanding of your abilities. You do not have to think twice about sharing who you are and what you do with others.
Micro-Action: Describe your business/organization/position – Create your unique positioning statement – your two to three-minute elevator speech: here is what I do and here is how it might interest you.
Micro-Action: Take seven minutes now and write a brief introduction statement that defines what you do and why you are different.
To close this week’s entry on “The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes,” start moving to the rhythm of success by believing in your abilities and remember that our daily habits and rituals tell people who we are, but we define ourselves to ‘ourselves’ by our dreams.
Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.
“Expanding Your Possibilities for Growth – Seven Minutes at a Time”
As we continue to learn about the “process of change” and the transformative power of small actions, this week we will discover some of the tools and actionable ideas that you can immediately use to improve your daily lives.
In her book, The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change , Allyson Lewis shares an inspiring story of “The Pumpkin and the Jar” and how we can allow artificial barriers to limit our hopes and dreams. As the story is told, a farmer plants a field of pumpkins and over time the seeds sprout and grow into vines that burst into blossoms. “The farmer walks the field one day and admires the beautiful blossoms, marveling at how nature had transformed those tiny seeds he had planted into this glorious display in only a few short weeks. As he bent down to admire one particularly beautiful blossom, he happened to notice an old glass jar lying nearby, and he wondered what would happen if a pumpkin were allowed to grow only within the limited confines of that jar. He placed the glass jar over the bloom and walked away.”
You can guess what happened. When the farmer returned some weeks later, the pumpkin grew and totally filled the jar – taking on the shape of the jar, and then it stopped growing. However, it was surrounded by beautiful round and amazingly large pumpkins. The moral of the story is that the pumpkin in the jar had been limited by the barrier and, as a result, altered its final shape.
At some point, all of us have allowed artificial barriers to limit our hopes and dreams. I hope the story prompts you to consider what your possibilities for growth might be and how or what are the unnecessary barriers that are keeping you from achieving your full growth, thereby altering the shape of your future and purpose. “But you can break free of your constraints to live a life with as much room for growth as your dreams can provide, and although breaking your barriers can open the path for life-altering growth, it doesn’t have to be a painful or overwhelming task. The barriers only have as much power as you give them.”
Here are some seven minutes ideas (micro-actions) that lead to a fundamental change in the way you approach your daily life. These tools will promote productivity and enable you to gain greater control of the hours in your workday:
Micro-Action: Create a daily written action plan. Every day before you leave work, spend seven minutes writing down the top four to seven tasks you need to accomplish during the next workday.
Micro-Action: Declutter one area. Your organizational skills play a major role in your ability to increase your activity levels both at home and at work – create and maintain an organized space. Spend seven minutes cleaning out one drawer. Schedule seven to ten minutes, three times a week, to work on your office files.
Micro-Action: Committing to daily contacts. It is vitally important that you communicate with your clients, employees, and associates. Set and keep a commitment to make a minimum number of contacts with co-workers each day.
Micro-Action: Expanding your knowledge. To grow professionally you must increase your knowledge. Choose one book then commit to reading 10 pages or more every day. You can even choose to listen to audiobooks on CD, tape or iPod –a great way to spend all those hours traveling to and from work.
Another seven-minute idea is to have fun. You must have fun in your work if you want to grow within your profession. “Your work occupies approximately one-third of your adult life. If you do not take pleasure, joy and satisfaction from doing what you do for a living you will not do it well nor will you find true success.”
If these micro-actions don’t appeal to you, develop your own strategies for change. Take the next seven minutes to write down ten strategies for action – five aimed at professional growth and five for personal growth. Set the stage for a successful life – break the artificial or perceived barriers that limit your potential for growth and embrace change!
Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.
“Discovering Your Purpose and Passion”
As we begin to explore “the process of change,” last week’s introduction to Allyson Lewis’ book titled, The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change,” provided the framework for achieving meaningful change in your personal and professional lives through small steps, called micro-actions. This week, we will actually dive into the process of discovering your purpose and passion. To do so, you will need to examine your life’s goals – which are closely linked to the pursuit of your purpose. Through these micro-action exercises, you should begin to have a clear vision of your goals in life, and work toward those things that you are passionate about and enjoy doing.
Your goals can be personal or professional, tiny or grand; achieved tomorrow or extending past your span on earth. Here are some examples:
- Personal goals: I want to grow in my faith. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to take more pictures of my family.
- Financial goals: I want to be debt-free. I want to increase my income significantly within the next year.
- Vocational goals: I want to be successful. I want to build a stronger reputation in my community and industry. I want to help others achieve a better life.
- Health goals: I just lost 10 pounds and I want to maintain my weight.
- Goals for leaving a legacy: I want to fund an endowment to help students with limited financial resources.
Your goals in life reflect and help fulfill your purpose. Spend seven minutes every day writing down a list of two to three specific micro-actions for achieving an identified goal. You owe yourself 7 to 15 minutes of personal time each day to work on you. Buy a notebook/journal and be very specific about the small steps you plan to take each day to propel you toward a goal. Begin the first step now.
Micro-Action: Take seven minutes right now and begin to make your daily list, or review a recent list you have made of your priorities and goals.
Caution: Don’t let unconscious actions and unexamined habits create priorities for you. It is important to align your priorities and dreams. Your success is determined by the choices you make and the priorities you set.
Micro-Action: Spend seven minutes brainstorming – positive dreaming. Our dreams influence our actions and, therefore, help form the blueprint of our lives – those things we like and are passionate about.
Micro-Action: While you are taking a shower or drying your hair, concentrate on your dreams and the positive attributes you possess that will help you achieve your dreams.
The author calls this micro-action, “differentiating yourself through your core convictions and strengths.” Our core beliefs about our work must match our personal values. In our private lives, our core beliefs are what makes us individuals – professionally, our core beliefs differentiate us from our competitors. “Everyone is gifted with unique talents, but only when we use those gifts to differentiate ourselves from our competitors can we truly succeed and move forward in our career.”
Micro-Action: List your core beliefs and strengths.
Good job so far. Now, consider this:
- You have acknowledged your passions;
- You have set your priorities;
- You have examined your dreams;
- You have identified your core beliefs and strengths;
- You have determined the unique skills through which you can differentiate yourself as a professional.
Are you beginning to understand and gain an outline of your purpose in life? If so, you have begun the process of changing your attitude and approach to life.
The author closes this chapter by stating, “What we do for others, defines our purpose in life. Deep within your soul drives your purpose, and your purpose will likely revolve around your natural passions and the things you love. I hope you will take the time to discover your purpose by completing this most important micro-action: write a short paragraph on “My Purpose in Life is . . .”
More next week on “Expanding Your Possibilities for Growth – Seven Minutes at a Time.”
“The Seven Minute Difference”
“I believe that making even small changes in your actions and behavior can result in monumental differences in your life,” according to Allyson Lewis, author of The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes.
This book was written to assist people from all backgrounds – businesspeople, corporate executives, leaders, financial advisors, attorneys, doctors, and yes, even you! If you truly wish to make a meaningful change in your professional and/or personal life, you need to undertake a self-examination and small actions are necessary to bring about the lasting change that you desire.
Engaging in small activities and tiny choices every day can achieve the difference between mediocrity and excellence. These small actions are called “micro-actions,” and they can occur in a number of ways:
- Outlining a daily plan of action;
- Taking time to thank a colleague for a job well done;
- Being on time or early for every meeting;
- Reading ten pages of a book every day;
- Getting up 15 minutes earlier each day;
- Eating more fruits and drinking more water.
Incorporating these micro-actions into your daily routine can result in greater levels of productivity in your professional and personal life. These small activities don’t require a lot of time – perhaps 5-minutes, 7-minutes, 15-minutes or even more. However, the research shows that the average executive’s attention span is seven minutes. “Further, according to Harvard psychologist George Miller, the brain is limited to remembering only seven pieces of information at a time.” Below are examples of what can be done in about seven minutes:
- Outline and prioritize your top personal goals;
- Write a letter to someone;
- Call your spouse, parents or children;
- Take time to relax and reflect.
To facilitate change, this book contains several underlying truths such as: change begins to happen the moment you decide to do so; you must want and expect to change; and you should employ the process of change.
In the coming weeks, we will do a deeper dive into this book and take you through the “process of change.” We hope this week’s introduction is a sufficient teaser to pique your interest in what comes next.
“Self-Care Strategies for Faculty”
We are sharing with you this week an article from Inside Higher Ed that focuses on “self-care for faculty.” However, these strategies may be applied to administrative positions as well. We all need to take time to care for our well-being.
“Those of us who work in higher education should purposefully attend to our important needs, even if only for a short time each day.”
~ Janet Alexander and Beth Kelch
Self-care has never been more important. In “normal” times, it was challenging enough for faculty members to make self-care a priority. We often heard of faculty who started work before dawn, others who worked well past midnight and others who answered email in their beds.
During the first pandemic of our lifetimes, work has seemed constant. Many of us have been toiling from home with no clear definition of the boundaries of work’s place and time. Sometimes our spouses, our kids and our dogs have been additional obstacles to our workload. For many faculty members today, remembering to include exercise, healthy eating, adequate rest and other recommended self-care practices has seemed to be only a pipe dream.
At Delta College, we decided to make that dream a reality, if only for a half hour. In January 2020, we had a Winter Learning Day, with eight hours of Zoom sessions dedicated to self-care and professional development. As soon as the agenda was released, faculty were already making comments about how being on Zoom for eight hours, with a program devoted to self-care, seemed hypocritical and rather ironic. In addition, they usually use part of their Fridays to catch up on grading and prepare for the following week. Now they would have to steal time from their weekend to catch up on those eight hours of work.
As co-coordinators of the Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence, we were asked to lead an afternoon session. We knew that our session could not just discuss why we needed self-care; we needed to provide actual self-care. We understood that we cannot be the best versions of ourselves in our classrooms and in our personal lives if we are exhausted. Our center’s goal is to help faculty achieve a level of teaching excellence, which will not occur without first having healthy mental, physical and psychological well-being.
In preparing for the session, we read a number of articles, including “A New Way to Think About Work-Life Balance.” That became the focus of our challenge to our colleagues. We began our session by acknowledging that it had been a long day on Zoom, not to mention the long year adjusting to online teaching. We asked faculty to write in the chat the ways that they take care of themselves. They mentioned items such as praying, taking a nap, exercising, eating healthy food, talking to a friend, getting outside and so forth. We saw that faculty certainly know what to do to be healthy but often fail to make this a priority or even a reality.
We let them know that we are aware of all the roles they juggle in their jobs, their homes, their relationships and their communities. We identified the most precious “glass balls” that will shatter if we drop them and “plastic balls” that will bounce and can be picked up later. We then reminded them to consider what was urgent versus what is important. Many people know this concept, but putting it into practice is the challenge.
Then, to give faculty members the opportunity to care for a “glass ball” -- to act on what was important over urgent -- we asked them to take the next 30 minutes and engage in something that was important for their well-being. Then they were to send us an email, letting us know what they did and how it contributed to their self-care. We had the hope that faculty would experience it and decide to make it a regular part of their lives every day -- even for just half an hour.
A Gift of Time
The response? We read emails about “How I spent my Winter Learning Day break” from over 150 faculty, full of genuine thanks for the opportunity to take care of themselves. Many mentioned taking a walk on the cold winter day or exercising. Others spent unexpected time with children, spouses, dogs and cats. (Photos of dogs, babies and art projects were included.) Others used the 30 minutes for reflection, prayer and meditation.
Here are just a few memorable comments from the wide range of professors from all types of disciplines -- including English, mathematics, languages, residential construction and physical therapy, among others -- who responded.
- “Honestly, I was tempted to work during this time since I actually have childcare help today, but I didn’t. So here is what I did: I went and kissed my 1-year-old just before he went down for a nap, had a snack with my 3-year-old before he started his quiet time and then took my dog on a 15-minute walk -- just me and him.”
- “I went for a 1.5-mile walk up and back on our road with my dog. I really needed to get away from the computer and get some fresh air. Felt great!”
- “I used my 30 minutes to do some exercises and stretches (while listening to music!) and then enjoyed a snack while basking in the silence (a rare thing at my house). For the first time today, I feel energized/recharged and realize that spending this time on myself is crucial to my well-being.”
- “This is not the ‘correct’ answer, but I spent my time finishing teaching today's virtual first-grade lessons to my son. That probably counts as ‘urgent,’ but if it makes you feel better, I also take a lot of joy being able to participate in the important learning he has done this year, like learning to read and grasp basic math concepts. If I didn't also have to work, it would be my dream to be able to teach him this stuff! As it is, it is very hard to perform double duties of teaching first grade and teaching college, but I am grateful for the added safety afforded by being at home with my people.”
- “I took a book I’m reading on my iPad and headed to our basement treadmill. I have been neglecting getting enough physical exercise recently, and I knew I had a busy day, so I had given up hope that I’d have a chance to walk today. It was a real pleasure to have been given the permission, or rather the assignment, to take 30 minutes to do this for me.”
Because this time was unexpected, faculty members especially appreciated it. It was a gift. Here’s the secret: our time is always a gift. Daily, those of us who work in higher education should purposefully attend to our important needs, even if only for a short time each day. Flower Darby reminds us that we should “schedule wisely.” We need to “carve out (regular) time to unplug and recharge.”
This is the lesson we learned from offering just those 30 minutes -- a lesson we hope you’ll consider, as well. It is a vital ingredient for making our classrooms reach the level that our students deserve: the level of excellence that we can only provide if we do, in fact, unplug and recharge. Our students, our loved ones and we are worth the investment. So go ahead: take just 30 minutes.
Source: “Self-Care Strategies for Faculty” by Janet Alexander and Beth Kelch, Inside Higher Ed, July 9, 2021.
Janet Alexander is professor of English and Beth Kelch is associate professor of mathematics at Delta College.
“Creating a Success Culture – Revised Version”
The idea of a success culture is the result of a world-wide survey of 139 offices in 29 professional service firms in 15 countries in 15 different lines of business. For this particular survey the basic question was “Are employees’ attitudes correlated with financial success?”
The answers to the question varied, but in most cases it was yes. And in those “yes” cases, it was found that there were high levels of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. Where there is less commitment, dedication and enthusiasm, how can a manager or leader create a culture that promotes growth and/or measurable returns? These are some strategies that come to mind:
- High institutional standards;
- Strong employee development programs.
But the real key is the character of the individual managers and leaders.
David H. Maister, author of “Practice What You Preach,” provides an in-depth review of “What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture.” The book is easy reading and I have extracted one section to share with you.
“The success culture is about creating a community. It is not about just teamwork. It is much more – it is about a community where people feel a mutual sense of responsibility and obligation to support each other. Each accepts his or her share of the responsibility of the challenges that face the firm or organization. It is not just a random collection of people who happen to work in the same firm or who are members of the same organization, but individuals who feel a sense of ‘being in this together’.”
Hence, how does a manager achieve such buy-in? One-on-one counseling, coaching or mentoring, or modeling the desired behavior. According to some of the best managers, here are some ways to achieve this kind of community:
- As you grow, have people you have developed (and who share your values) manage with you;
- Strive at building loyalty to the firm or organization;
- Create a sense of mutual pride in each other’s accomplishments;
- Earn trust by supporting each other – enforce the rule that employees don’t leave until they ask if anyone needs help;
- Encourage group discussions – leaders should let people know the reasons behind their thinking;
- Face successes and failures as a group – don’t be so quick to point the finger;
- Keep everyone informed – good communication ranks high in all successful endeavors;
- Rotate staff meeting facilitators – give the junior or mid-level staff member an opportunity to develop presentation skills. Help people understand that they need to grow – don’t assume they know;
- Set standards and live by those standards;
- Take time to interact socially;
- Create fun and enjoyment in the workplace;
- View individual goals as collectives – no egos are allowed.
And the list goes on. But these are not arbitrary rules of good people management. These are the practices of the most successful and profitable businesses and organizations throughout the world.
The message is clear. Accept the challenge. Have the courage to believe that the message from your leadership is clear and that the strategy is not to wait until tomorrow, or until someone else implements the plan. Remember, you reap the benefits of what you do now, not what you hope to get around to doing some day if it is convenient and you’re not too busy.
Source: “Practice What You Preach,” David H. Maister, July 2001, Free Press Publishers (can be found on-line, by keying in book title).
What Is Your Leadership Battle Cry?
~ Frances Hesselbein
A couple of weeks ago, we asked if your leadership mission statement was simple enough to fit on a T-shirt. This week we are asking “What Is Your Leadership Battle Cry?”
The following three leadership “battle cries” are from Frances Hesselbein, the former Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of America and now Chairman of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly The Peter Drucker Foundation). They are short and impactful:
- Her blood type, which she proudly tells us ~ Be Positive!
- Her vision, which she enthusiastically shares with all of us ~ Bright Future!
- Her mission, which she exemplifies to us every day ~ To Serve Is to Live!
This week’s message is intentionally brief. Our hope is that these short “battle cries” will have an impact upon your career – not just leave an impression.
Take time this week to find your “battle cry.”
Source: Article from The Marshall Goldsmith Newsletter
September 9, 2021
Investing In and Supporting Women’s Leadership in Higher Education
By Dr. Cobretti D. Williams
It goes without saying that change comes slowly in higher education, especially for those who seek it. However, the face of its leaders is transforming right before our eyes. At the turn of the new millennium, college presidents, executive administrators, and other high-level leadership roles in higher education were occupied by men. Recent studies show that institutions have become more diverse and made stronger commitments to diversifying personnel across race and gender. More women are assuming top leadership roles as university presidents. Women faculty now represent a majority of the teaching staff and over half of the college education workforce are women. Given the once limited access to leadership for women in higher education, this is a positive trend that underscores the advancement of gender equity within colleges and universities. However, that is not to say prevalent issues that present obstacles to women faculty and administrators do not remain. In particular, there are three critical issues institutions must address to be a safe and supportive environment for women leaders in higher education.
Parental Leave and Caregiving Policies
Surprisingly, parental leave policies for faculty and administrators are not universally implemented across colleges and universities, and for women who are also caregivers, the workload expectations and lack of institutional support have proven to be overwhelming. Considering the low percentage of US workplaces that offer paternity leave, institutions without a supportive policy or practice in place disproportionately impact women. In early March, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on the careers of women in STEM. One of the findings of the report concludes that women were negatively impacted by increased workloads during the pandemic, especially those managing remote instruction and family care responsibilities. "I have three children doing virtual schooling full-time who need my attention throughout the day," said an associate professor within the report, "they all have different break schedules and seemingly interrupt me every 10 minutes. I want them to learn and thrive and I try to make these difficult circumstances for them as positive as possible, which means giving more of myself and my time to them." This imbalance has adverse effects, whether you are a woman seeking tenure and have not had time to dedicate to research or an administrator juggling the demands of upper-level leadership with caregiving needs. Proactively providing women with the flexibility to take work leave for parenting and caregiving across all higher education institutions is one way to alleviate these challenges.
Tenure and Promotion
Parental care and family obligations are only a portion of the issues that create barriers for women faculty and administrators in higher education. In some cases, the traditional structure of the tenure system has been shown to increase the labor women expend on teaching and service at the expense of their research agenda, ultimately influencing their ability to receive tenure at the university. In the 2017-2018 Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, the American Association of University Professors found that despite women making up the majority of adjunct and non-tenure-track teaching positions, only 44 percent are tenure-track and even less (36 percent) have achieved full professorship. Moreover, the American Association of University Women provided additional significance to this finding stating that "Women of color are especially underrepresented in college faculty and staff -- which contributes to lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in teaching practices and curriculum as well as role models and support systems for students." For women administrators, there are also issues and disparities when it comes to pay and promotion. According to a report released by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, even though the number of women in executive leadership positions at colleges and universities is increasing, the rate at which they are promoted and paid is lower than white men. Gary A. Berg, the author of "The Rise of Women in Higher Education: How, Why and What's Next," spoke to the history of exclusion for women in higher education, emphasizing the influence of institutions on women faculty and administrators. "Many of the elite institutions in the past were resistant to admitting women students...In some cases, the traditions at universities surrounding doctoral programs, tenure, and promotion work against encouraging rapid change in leadership gender, especially at research universities." To address this issue, he believes that "In addition to creating an open pipeline to top positions, institutions need to more actively encourage and develop women leaders. Over time, one would expect to see college presidencies more appropriately reflect the ever more diverse student population."
Creating a Leadership Pipeline for Women
Another important consideration for women's equity in higher education leadership is the pipeline itself. Higher education is full of myriad pathways one can take to become a dean or college president for example, but in many cases, this involves jumping between institutions and states for women to advance in their career, and this does not have to be the case. In fact, the American Council on Education found that women leaders often participated in leadership development programs at a higher percentage than men and held immediate prior positions at the institutions where they seek promotion or advancement. This suggests that institutions could leverage these trends and create a structured pipeline and pathway for women to become executive leaders and tenured faculty. In discussion with other women faculty and administrators at Texas A&M University, Dr. Vicki Dobiyanski, associate vice president for student affairs spoke positively about the time her former boss, also a woman, gave her the chance to become dean of students at Florida State University. "She really transformed my career, and I appreciate her seeing something in me," said Dr. Dobiyanski. These connections and opportunities may exist among women in high leadership roles, but men in leadership must also make it a point to invest in the promotion of women, if not for gender parity, for the progress of diversity, equity, and inclusion that was once inaccessible to women in higher education.
During a recent interview with HigherEdJobs, Dr. Suzanne Rivera said, "Academia has got to come to grips with its own narrow-minded view of who can be a leader. Things are changing but very slowly." She could not be more right, and based on these issues, it is fair to say despite concerted efforts toward equity and inclusion for women faculty and administrators, higher education has room for improvement in terms of policies and practices. The fact that women leaders have been able to increase representation in executive leadership and build awareness of gendered disparities in organizational governance and institutional policy does not negate a need to address the longstanding structural issues of colleges and universities. Women have amassed a positive sustainable moment in higher education over the last century, and it would be a shame to stop now because we failed to address the obstacles that impede on their leadership.
Source: HigherEdJobs, May 28, 2021 Issue
Welcome back to Mentoring Mondays. I hope you noticed that we were on break over the summer months. During our respite, I took the time to read a lot of articles on leadership by my favorite authors. Well, the team and I are back with more leadership treasures. Here is a great article by Marshall from the September issue of The Marshall Goldsmith Newsletter.
Your Leadership Mission Should Fit on a T-Shirt
My mission is simple. It is to: Help successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in their behavior. Peter Drucker instilled this short phrase in me, “Your mission should fit on a t-shirt,” as he did with so many others, and it has guided my career for many decades. It has helped me focus and become pretty good at what I do, which I can describe in two words: behavioral coaching.
Today, most people who call themselves executive coaches are coaches in the area of leadership behavior. There are a few – and I would like to underline, very few – strategic coaches. For instance, Vijay Govindarajan, who does an excellent job of helping at the corporate strategy domain. Michael Porter is another great coach in this domain. When I say most, I mean upwards of 90% of people who say they’re executive coaches have backgrounds in psychology or organizational behavior. So, most executive coaches are doing what I do, helping leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior.
Peter Drucker’s advice that a mission should fit on a t-shirt has also helped me focus on what not to do as it applies to my mission statement. For instance, it helped me grapple with this interesting catch about my work: behavioral coaching only helps if a person has behavioral issues!
It sounds simple, but I receive ridiculous (to me) requests for coaching. Not long ago, a pharmaceutical company called me up, and said, “We want you to coach Dr. X.” I replied, “Interesting possibility. What’s his problem?” They said, “He’s not updated on recent medical technology.” I laughed and replied, “Neither am I!” I couldn’t help Dr. X. I can’t make a bad doctor a good doctor, a bad scientist a good scientist, or a bad engineer a good engineer. A behavioral coach only solves behavioral issues.
The second thing I always teach is never coach integrity violations. I read an article in Forbes once I found very disturbing, about people that had integrity violations who were given coaches. People that have integrity violations should be fired, not coached. How many integrity violations does it take to ruin the reputation of your company? Just one. You don’t coach integrity violations. You fire them.
And finally, behavioral coaching doesn’t help if the person or the company is going in the wrong direction. If somebody is going in the wrong direction, behavioral coaching just helps them get there faster. It doesn’t turn the wrong direction into the right direction.
It’s your turn. What’s your mission? Can it fit on a t-shirt? Do you use it to help guide your career decisions? If you don’t have a mission statement, write one.
The MI-ACE mission can certainly fit on a t-shirt: IDEALS – “Identifying, developing the leadership of, encouraging, advancing, and supporting the retention of women in higher education throughout the state.”