In our work assisting colleges with presidential searches, we have seen many presidential personalities. Each leader brings their own character to inhabit the position. Still, there are traits that unify all successful college presidents. When presidents employ these skills, they propel their institutions forward. When they lack these traits, it has profoundly detrimental consequences for their career and for the organization they lead. Here are three top skills we look for in presidential candidates:

1. Vision. Presidents are tasked with guiding an organization at the highest level. They must be able to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by the college and chart a strategic path forward. Through effectively communicating their vision with stakeholders, they unite their instituting around a common goal.

2. Interpersonal skills. From fundraising to managing a staff, a president’s ability to do their job rests on their people skills. It doesn’t matter how brilliant their ideas are: if they are unlikable and abrasive, they will not succeed. 

3. Humility. No president is perfect. For a president to be effective for the long term, they must be willing to listen to the perspective and input of others. Arrogance separates. Humility creates cohesive teams that accomplish great things together. 

Perhaps you are early in your pursuit of higher education leadership and considering areas for growth. You may be further in your career and applying for presidential positions. Wherever you are in your career, leadership coaching skills from Hyatt-Fennell can help you unlock career growth. Learn more about our leadership coaching skills on our website or reach out today.