So yesterday, I noted I would talk about leadership today. This is on my mind because we need to develop or retool a leadership program at Southwestern College, develop better onboarding, and I am and will be hiring new leaders this upcoming year. So, one of my most painful lessons gets summed up in this quote by Maya Angelou:
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Although, we are community colleges…the place for second chances, right? We can learn new competencies, and good leadership just as our students learn new knowledge and skills. A little about my leadership philosophy.
Whenever I hire I am looking for my replacement. I look for skills that I don’t have and I look for potential. Does this person have the basic integrity and emotional intelligence to be a good leader? I can teach finance, community college basics, etc. We need leaders in the faculty ranks, the classified ranks and middle management. I see some great examples of faculty and classified leadership everyday on this campus. I also see others who really need to work on this.
When I think about some of the leaders who have inspired me the most in the California Community College System for their ability to move an organization and support students, I think of Dr. Keith Curry, Provost/President at Compton Center and Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District. When I think about the differentiating characteristics of these two leaders, I think about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and passion for their work. While passion is included in the EQ components, it is passion for students and elevating communities that is different for good community college leaders.
Emotional Intelligence is a phrase coined by Daniel Goleman in the mid 1990s.
The five components of EQ are as noted by the Harvard Business Review:
- Self Awareness
- Realistic self-assessment
- Self-deprecating sense of humor
- Self Regulation
- Comfort with ambiguity
- Passion for their work
- Desire to raise the bar
- Commitment and optimism
- Ability to read between the lines
- Skill with group dynamics
- Social Skill
- Expertise with teams
- Gift for Collaboration
One of the concerns that I have is while many people are talented and skilled at SWC, there is some lack of the EQ components of self awareness and self regulation in some of our faculty, staff, and managers. This is clear from reading investigations and listening to people. In every interview I am in, I look for people who have EQ and in particular, are they self aware and have the ability to self regulate? I look for commitment and empathy and the ability to collaborate. Someone can be the smartest person in the room, but if we don’t know how we impact others, we won’t manage people well. If we are unkind or use inappropriate language we can ruin a student’s opportunity. We can be authentic, treat people with respect, and still say what we mean.
The website that talks about Emotional Intelligence 2.0 notes that EQ is responsible for 58% of your job performance. 90% of top performers have EQ and people with high EQ make $29,000 more annually than their low EQ counterparts. Link to EQ 2.0 Talentsmart Website
During May 2017, the Aspen Institute generated a report, Renewal and Progress; Strengthening Higher Education Leadership in a Time of Rapid Change. This report notes how critical higher education has been to the “sustenance of American democracy, as well as a robust, diversified economy.” The report notes that college presidents for the future will need both a “deeper and broader” skillset than ever before. The report notes:
They must be able to lead courageous conversations within their institutions about improved models of teaching and learning, provide a strong vision for fiscal sustainability, take a multifaceted approach to diversity and inclusion, monitor and ensure that students and faculty are secure in their ability to search for truth through disciplined inquiry, and aspire unwaveringly to better student outcomes. Different fiscal planning, budgeting, and revenue-raising capacities are needed, given shifting levels of public support and the proliferation of new educational delivery models.
The growth of social media necessitates new communication skills and greater sophistication in public relations. And accelerated changes in technological innovation, labor market conditions, and numerous other areas that influence college and university operations require that presidents be adept at leading organizational change.
While some of you think you don’t need to read this report because you won’t be a college president, I challenge you to rethink that thought. I never thought when I started as an adjunct, and later ran a CalWORKs/workforce development center that I would be sitting in this chair today. Every day, I challenge myself to do a better job, to be a better person, and hopefully a better college president. I hope you will too.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams