Presidents need broader range of skills to meet today's customary leadership demands

Dive Brief:

  • Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute, recently told attendees at the annual American Council on Education meeting that college presidents believe finance, strategic planning, communications, marketing, fundraising and lobbying to be the essential elements of what campus communities believe a president must do.
  • These demands, or realities of the presidency, are the reason why the job has transformed dramatically over the last ten years and has resulted in an unprecedented culture of turnover.
  • In the area of gender equity in the college presidency, presenters revealed that more men are finding pathways from deanships to campus CEO roles, while women remain most likely to obtain presidencies after turns as provosts or vice presidents.

Dive Insight:

The truth in executive hiring and development is not a question of capacity to budget, or to hire coaches or to raise money; it comes down to the ability to spot talent and to effectively communicate with and to motivate staff and the board of trustees. Most people in the executive realm of higher education are seeking to be inspired, and for energy to infuse the process of innovation and execution at all areas of the campus.

The best presidents are those who recognize their weaknesses and strengths, work to develop both, are transparent with the board about both, and hire people smarter than they are in all areas where the campus needs the most improvement. Doing these things can potentially lead to long-serving, more productive relationships among executive cabinets and boards.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed