Supporting Your Staff and Students as a Higher Ed Leader

Higher Ed Leadership Series

As a new Department Chair, Division Head, Dean, or other higher ed leader, you’re balancing many roles. You’re no longer just an individual contributor; you’re a leader of your team or department, and the student population as a whole. So, how do you make sure you are available for and supportive of those you lead?

Here are 4 tips:

1) Prioritize your Team Responsibilities

If you don’t make your team a priority, they will inevitably fall by the wayside of your busy calendar. Schedule out your team events at the beginning of each semester, and block them on your calendar before other tasks and meetings take over your time. Be sure to block off time each week for open office hours, as well as regular check-ins with your direct reports (at least bi-weekly).

2) Focus on Building New Leaders

A major part of being an effective leader is developing the next generation of leaders. It’s not just about knowing how to delegate and manage your staff; you want to inspire them to step into their potential as leaders themselves.

Look for opportunities to delegate activities to someone on your team. Encourage them to join a committee and then make space for them to share updates during your staff meeting. Not only will it take some of the workload off your plate, but it will help your team members to develop their own leadership skills!

3) Express Genuine Interest

It’s important to show that you care about your team and students as well-rounded people, not just as students or professionals. Show interest in their personal lives and hobbies outside of school. This could be as simple as asking about their weekend before kicking off the Monday staff meeting. When your team feels like you truly care about them as people, they will feel safe to be themselves and are more likely to be engaged in their work.

4) Be an Advocate for Change

The best way to show that you care? When you notice something within your institution that is detrimental to students and/or faculty, use your position to enact positive change. Join appropriate committees or organizations that you believe in, and use your voice to push initiatives that will benefit students, faculty, and the university as a whole. (Or better yet, create a committee where you see a gap!)

Check out this article from Cengage on supporting student success.

Stepping into a leadership role comes with a new level of responsibility. Hopefully these tips will help you set yourself up for success as a leader in higher education.

University Leadership Roadmap

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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