When you assume the presidency of an institution, you step into the helm. Your job is to keep the organization on course. That task can be straightforward in calm waters, but what happens when an obstacle or storm threatens to throw you off course? Good leaders can maintain an institution. Great leaders adapt and excel. Change management is one of the most important skills for a successful college management. There are four practices that can anchor you and enable you to navigate change.
• Identify the challenge. It can be easy to focus on a pressing need and miss the overarching threat. Is the difficulty dropping enrollment numbers or is that symptomatic of larger trends in education in your context?
• Understand your values. You can’t chart where you’re going until you understand where you’ve been. Knowing your institution’s history, culture, and values, allows you to evaluate where your priorities lie as you consider your strategy to move forward.
• Seek wise counsel. You are not the first person to navigate these waters. Learn from the approaches of others. By seeing what has come up short and what has worked well, you can hone your approach.
• Cast vision. Communicate clearly with key stakeholders. This begins with articulating your new direction and procedures plainly and positively. It also means addressing their fears and hesitations about the changes you are proposing. In order for an institution to adapt, change has to happen on all levels.