Among all of your roles, being a higher ed leader means that you have a seat at the table for strategic decision making. This means you will have the opportunity to weigh in on important topics affecting the direction of the department and/or institution.
Often as a deep subject-matter expert, you may simply want to focus on your discipline. You may not be interested in the politics and all of the meetings associated with the state of the university. However, honing this skill will help you to stand out as a leader and leverage your position to enact real change at the university level.
Here are a few tips to help you lean into your role as a strategic decision maker for the university:
1) Stay Informed. Keep up with any university, conference, or federal news about your school. Depending on your learning preference, subscribe to podcasts, online magazines, email news, etc. This way you can catch up on your commute or lunch break.
(A few podcasts I recommend include: Re: Learning and EdUp Experience.)
2) Network. Meet regularly with colleagues across the university. Use these connections to gain insight on their perspective of university policies and news. This is also a great opportunity to informally gather historical views of topics from those who have been there longer.
3) Find Your Niche. Scan the environment to see where your insights are most needed (or where you have specific passion). This will help you to prioritize where to participate relative to decision-making. For example, if you’re dedicated to increasing diverse faculty across campus, perhaps you should spend your effort on committees related to faculty hiring and retention.
4) Delegate. After you have identified areas that you will focus on, delegate other topics to someone on your team. Have them join a committee and then make space for them to share updates during your staff meeting. Not only is this an amazing development opportunity for them, but it also allows information to be shared through someone other than you. As you can see, this approach has so many wins!
While you may not have “signed up” for the strategic decision-making aspect of your leadership role, leveraging one or more of these tips may help things feel a bit more manageable. Who knows, you may even grow to like this part!
Looking for additional resources to help you navigate senior leadership in higher ed? Download our free University Leadership Roadmap: 7 Steps to Jumpstart Your Leadership Journey for Women of Color in Higher Ed.
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