Podcast: Leaders on Leadership with Jay Lemons
Today’s higher education leaders share their stories and insights about leadership in the academy. Join host Jay Lemons and his guests for thoughtful conversations and interesting perspectives on leadership.
In this episode, Jay talks with Dr. Loren Blanchard, President of the University of Houston-Downtown, who shares three pieces of advice for leading through crisis: being nimble, doing advanced preparation, and delivering clear, consistent and regular communication. Dr. Blanchard also discusses some of the proven strategies he has used to help close equity gaps and the importance of focusing on student success to achieve those efforts. Interview recorded in September 2021.
COVID-19 Impacts on Leadership Transitions and the Search Process
Many institutional leaders who may have been considering retirement or a move decided to delay their plans, and search work came to a standstill late last spring. As the COVID-19 crisis continued on, we did see some thawing of search for positions considered critical to long-term viability such as presidents and provosts. Uncertainty and limited resources made contracting with an executive search firm more challenging for many institutions, resulting in recruitment of position openings being managed internally in many instances. We saw a bit more activity this past fall as some campuses began to open, but the typical search process and more common search calendar has changed in ways that not only accommodate the world in which we currently live but we suspect will become part of the “new normal” in a post-pandemic period.
Strengthening the Foundation: Creating an Inclusive Environment for New Leaders
As an expression of Academic Search’s commitment, and as a complement to the work we do in executive search, we are honored to be engaged currently with the City University of New York System as it facilitates the transition of seven new campus presidents. Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez recognizes the critical work to be done following the appointment of new leadership, and this is all the more significant during the pandemic. A successful search does not end at the identification, selection, and announcement of the appointee; developing and implementing a well-structured transition and onboarding plan is imperative to ensuring a smooth, successful change of leadership. It is particularly important to keep the challenges of leadership in mind when transitioning and onboarding candidates from traditionally underserved populations, particularly those who are serving as pioneers in the institutions they now lead. Jay Lemons and Shirley Robinson Pippins bring their insights for keeping diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront of any transition and onboarding plan.
2020 Vision: Sharpening the Lens for Hiring Leaders
In these turbulent and uncertain times, senior leaders are expected to be more adaptable than perhaps ever before and to have or develop new essential skills to address rapidly changing conditions during this pandemic and beyond. Leaders also need to have an even deeper awareness of systemic injustice, inequality, and privilege. As hiring authorities and search committees select new leaders through national searches or internal appointments, they must sharpen the lens through which they now evaluate candidates. Ginny Horvath, Senior Consultant, and Maya Kirkhope, Vice President for Consulting Services and Senior Consultant, identify how the following ten top leadership qualities and skills have been redefined for current and anticipated changes in higher education:
Financial Acuity • Cultural Competency • Technological Deftness • Crisis Management • Entrepreneurial Mindset • Political Savviness • Empathy and Respect • Multi-genre Communication Skills • High Emotional Intelligence • Agility