For the third year in a row, the SAEM Executive Team met for a one-and-a-half day leadership retreat. The focus this year was on the 5 Principals of Exemplary Leadership as described in The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. The retreat was grounded in the work we did the past two years on Strengths-Based Leadership and in the DiSC Work Style Inventory. Our retreat was facilitated by Pam Bergerone from Lansing, Michigan.
The purpose for our retreat is to continue strengthening our executive leadership team in leadership development and team building. The Executive Team members that were in attendance actively engaged in the retreat, and I am pleased with the energy and initiative displayed by each.
Below is a brief re-cap of the practices, and I encourage others to pick up a copy of the book from the library, borrow one from your executive team leader, or purchase your own copy. Any edition will be helpful if you are interested in learning more to become an exemplary leader in SAEM! I also encourage you to visit with those in attendance about what they valued most about the retreat and their learning. At the bottom of this post are the quotes that we did an activity around. I hope that you find one or two that resonate with you.
The book is in its 5th edition, and Kouzes and Posner have conducted over 30 years of research on exemplary leadership. Two well-known quotes from the book that resonated with me are:
In the best organizations, everyone, regardless of title or position, is encouraged to act like a leader. Titles are granted, but it’s your behavior that earns you respect.
Leadership is not about who you are; it’s about what you do. Leader’s deeds are far more important than their words when constituents want to determine how serious leaders really are about what they say. Words and deeds must be consistent.
The 5 principles of exemplary leadership are each described below.
Model the Way
Leaders must be clear about their own guiding principles. Leaders must clarify their values by finding their voice. Our values constitute our personal bottom line. “Before you can be a leader of others, you need to know clearly who you are and what your core values are.” As a leader, you also must affirm the shared values of the group. To model the way, we must set the example, we must do what we say we will do, and we must live the values. Leaders give people reasons to care, not simply orders to follow.
Inspire a Shared Vision
Leaders can’t command commitment: they have to inspire it. Leaders look forward to the future. They have a sense of what is uniquely possible if everyone works together for a common purpose. The best leaders understand that it’s not their personal idiosyncratic view of the future that’s important; it’s the aspirations of all their constituents that matter most. Leaders breathe life into the vision.
Challenge the Process
Leaders are pioneers, willing to step out into the unknown. We are constantly learning from our error and failures, we try new things, and incrementally move projects forward. The best leaders are the best learners. No leader has ever gotten anything extraordinary done by working solo. We must foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships. The sense of teamwork extends far beyond a few direct reports or confidants. We have to engage everyone. Great leaders don’t have to change history, but have to change “business as usual”. We have to be proactive, inviting and creating new initiatives. To challenge the process, we must search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and look outward for innovative ways to improve. “Be restless! Don’t let routines become ruts!” Look at things through fresh eyes, and accept the small wins. Remember, “the turtle won the race!”
Enable Others to Act
A grand dream doesn’t become a significant reality through the actions of a single person. It requires a team effort, solid trust and strong relationships, competence and cool confidence. It requires group collaboration and individual accountability. Exemplary leaders put the best interest of the institution ahead of their own, and ensure that everyone understands how they are inter-dependent on one another. Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power: you become more powerful when you give your own power away. The success of every organization is a shared responsibility. When people take personal responsibility and are held accountable for their actions, their colleagues are much more inclined to want to work with them and are more motivated to cooperate in general. Individual accountability is a critical element of every collaborative effort. Everyone has to do his or her part for a group to function effectively.
Encourage the Heart
Recognition is the most powerful currency we have, and it costs you nothing. Part of our responsibility as leaders is to show appreciation for people’s contributions and to create a culture of celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community. The best leaders bring out the best in their constituents. If the potential exists within someone, exemplary leaders always find a way to release it. Exemplary leaders recognize and reward what individuals do to contribute to the vision and values of the organization. Critical components of this are to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them, to maintain high expectations, and to create an environment that makes it comfortable to receive and give feedback. Don’t take anyone for granted! Make sure our workplace isn’t regarded as the place where “fun goes to die!”
Some quotes from the Retreat
“Never ask people to do anything you’re not willing to do yourself.” -Mahatma Gandhi
“DWYSYD (do what you say you’ll do)” -Anonymous
“It’s not about personality, it’s about behavior.” -Kouses & Posner
” …to commit to having pride in what we do, performing at the highest level and always promoting the enterprise and not ourselves.” -Garrey Carruthers
“You do big things by doing a lot of small things.” -Unattributed
“We need to focus on our students. They are our core business and without their academic success, we don’t have success as a university.” -Garrey Carruthers
Please leave your thoughts below. I especially encourage members of the Executive Leadership Team to leave your comments on what you took away from the retreat.