Category Archives: Leadership

Leadership Voice: What a Difference a Gift Makes

Thimg_1409e University of Oregon’s new president, Michael Schill, is in an unprecedented leadership position: accepting what he calls a “jaw-dropping $500 million gift” from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny. He has done so with vision and grace. Continue reading

Are You A Human?

“Are You A Human” is the name of a company based in Detroit that designs technology to help ensure internet security. The question, though, is important for today’s leaders. We want to know our leaders are humans, too, capable of empathy and worthy of trust. I was thinking of this recently when President Obama released his summer playlist, giving us a light-hearted glimpse into his personal tastes in a humanizing way.

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The Power of “Why”

I keep coming back to this 2009 TED talk by Simon Sinek on the power of “why.” I often find the really smart people I work with jump right into the details: what they’re going to do and how it should be done. I also have found that academic leaders, in particular, frequently begin their communication with statements about problems or deficiencies. I think this is because they spend their careers as scholars identifying problems to solve and challenging one another’s research in order to expose the flaws and make sure it holds up.

Image for blog power of whyHowever, once you move into leadership, the job is different. You need to inspire and motivate the people around you to give their best effort, even when the going gets tough. To do this, it’s important to start with the “why”: Why are we doing this? What will it look like if we are wildly successful? Research shows that a positive and clear articulation of the destination inspires people and makes them work harder. Stating your goals and aspirations in a positive way is much more likely to get your team working enthusiastically, persuade the organization to commit resources, and win support from donors. Continue reading

Making Communication Personal

Social and digital media have given leaders and institutions more ways to communicate with their important audiences than at any other point in history. Yet, ironically, these tools have made communication less effective in many respects.

The reason is twofold. First, the volume of information coming at people creates “noise,” which means any individual communication is less likely to break through and be heard. (Unless, of course, your tweet, photo or video goes “viral” and is seen and heard by the entire universe. While viral communications can be positive, often for education and nonprofit leaders they are not.) Continue reading