The Forgotten Success Factor in Higher Ed. Leadership


What people want to accomplish

This time of year, my inbox gets flooded with messages from higher ed. executives who have exciting goals regarding what they want to accomplish. For example, they want to get their dream job, or they want to have more influence on their campus, or they want to create free time by working faster and smarter. That’s great! All change starts with a clear vision of success so it’s important to know what you want to accomplish.

But there is one critical type of goal people often forget to focus on and that’s personal development goals. Do you see the irony? We work in higher education and value lifelong learning, yet we forget to identify what we want to learn! In my last article, I explained how having problems forces us to grow and become better leaders, but how about not waiting for problems to arise?

What are your personal development goals?

The most important project you will ever work on is yourself. My clients understand that to reach new goals they need to develop (or strengthen) skills and competencies, as well as improve their mindset and create new habits.

What about you? In what areas do you need to grow? Please understand I am not suggesting that you aren’t “good enough”. The way you are now is perfect for now, but there is tremendous joy and fulfillment in stepping up to a higher level.

Here are some examples of situations and opportunities for personal growth.

  • E.g 1. You feel like there is never enough time to get all your work done. You need to improve your organization and time management habits and become more self-disciplined.

  • E.g. 2. You have disagreements with several people on campus. You need to learn new ways to build rapport, listen, make people feel heard, and get their buy-in.

  • E.g 3. You feel intimidated by people who are more accomplished than you are. You need to develop more self-worth and self-confidence.

  • E.g. 4. You are under a lot of stress and you tend to get triggered easily. You need to learn how to remain calm and in control of your emotions.

  • E.g. 5. People often misinterpret what you say and sometimes take offense. You need to become more sensitive to other people’s perspectives and learn how to deal with coworkers’ sensitivity and potential insecurities.

  • E.g. 6. You want to be positive but you observe yourself thinking about what you fear will go wrong, instead of believing in positive outcomes. You need to develop an empowered mindset.

Personal development is highly rewarding because while you learn how to deal with one type of situation, you develop new strengths and abilities that will help you in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life! That should be a top priority, no matter how busy you are.

Implementing what you know

Before you rush to Amazon to buy more “how to” books, there is an extremely important distinction I must make. Personal development isn’t accomplished by accumulating knowledge in your mind, but by implementing strategies, seeing results, and integrating the changes so deeply that they become your new normal.

What you know intellectually isn’t worth much if you are not implementing it. You understand that knowing how to eat better isn’t going to improve your health if you don’t change your diet. Knowing how to use the equipment at the gym won’t make you fit unless you work out regularly. It’s the exact same thing with leadership. It’s not what you know but what you do that counts.

So, be honest with yourself; if you compare what you think you “should be doing” to what you “are actually doing”, what do you see? Is it time to commit to being more self-disciplined?

Do you need more discipline or new strategies?

When people don’t do what they think they should be doing, it is either because they lack self-discipline (e.g. put away your cell phone and focus on your report without distractions) or because they don’t know how to do something (e.g. keep conversations short and don’t let people over-stay their welcome in your office).

When you don’t meet your own expectations, you need to know if it is because you lack discipline, make excuses, and avoid reality, or if it is that you need to discover new strategies. In the examples above, you see that putting away your cell phone doesn’t require any skill, only discipline, whereas knowing how to keep conversations brief may require more thought.

I strongly encourage you to start by making a strong commitment to being self-disciplined. Keep yourself accountable. When you really do your best, you will see incredible results!

When self-discipline isn’t enough, it is because something is stopping you from taking action. You experience inner-conflict when you have two desires that seem to be mutually exclusive. For example, if you desire to stop letting people take too much of your time when they don’t have a good reason, and you also believe that to show respect and appreciation you must let them talk as long and as often as they wish, you will be stuck. To get unstuck, you will need someone to help you change perspective and eliminate inner-conflict. Otherwise, you won’t be able to change your behavior and you’ll keep judging yourself for it. So, don’t wait! Now is the time to learn to do things differently and become a more self-empowered leader.

Whether you want to become more self-disciplined or learn and implement new strategies, I invite you to click here to schedule a complimentary phone consultation with me. We will talk about your goals and how I can help you reach them quickly and successfully. Talk to you soon!

About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, and online courses. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.

Comment image.png