Tag Archives: new presidents

Why College Presidents Benefit from Coaching

The essay below, by Mary Sue Coleman and Lisa Rudgers, originally appeared April 20, 2021, in Inside Higher Ed.

Mary Sue Coleman

Being a college president is tough under the best of circumstances. While the pandemic has exponentially expanded the day-to-day work and uncertainty, the job has in truth always been extremely challenging. Pressures from stakeholders across the institution, economic and political stressors, and the precariousness of the sector’s financial model can threaten to undermine even the most determined leader’s ability to sustain forward momentum.

Lisa Rudgers

This is especially true for those taking on higher education’s CEO role for the first time. New presidents must learn how to navigate the institution’s governance and culture, all while balancing the seemingly endless demands from internal and external constituents.

Increasingly, wise boards of trustees and campus leaders are recognizing that executive coaching and mentoring can be an important component in successful presidential leadership over the long haul. Although executive coaching is common in the corporate sector, higher education has been slower to understand the benefits that external coaching and expertise can bring to bear — and the reasons why an experienced, outside perspective is so valuable. Here’s what we’ve learned. Continue reading

Guideposts for New Presidents in the Time of Pandemic

We work with a great many new and first-time college presidents. Even in good times, taking the helm of a complex, decentralized and highly political organization presents career-defining challenges for new leaders. But in the time of pandemic, these challenges multiply and accelerate, forcing an incoming president to battle unimaginable crises and weigh in on urgent decisions — before the freshly appointed can even set a foot on their campuses.

A recent headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education summed it up aptly: “Welcome to the College Presidency. Oh, the House is on Fire.”

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