Thursday, April 17, 2008

Off to a Great Start...

Believe it or not, it has been a little over three months since Vice President Hoss walked into my office and asked “Got a minute?” I could tell from the look on his face that what he had to say was very important. However, I was totally unprepared for what I heard since my mind was made up that 2008 was the year I would buckle down and finish my dissertation since I probably have the oldest active student ID number at Alliant International University. One thing I have learned in my career is to be ready to be called off the bench at any time because opportunities will not come at perfect times, but rather at the more imperfect ones.

According to Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders”, he suggests that evidence of “quick wins” sets a positive tone for a new leader. I will share some of the quick wins I have experienced since assuming the role as your leader for Finance and Administrative Services.

As counterintuitive as this sounds, the news of the state budget crisis created the first early wins. It provided an opportunity for FAS Leadership Council to come together and rally around a common goal: How can we as a division address the budget challenge while providing quality, high level services to the campus community? A way to look at this is to start with the end in mind. How do we want the picture to look when whatever spending reductions we need to make are in place? What is clear is we can achieve our vision elements of collaboration, laughter, inviting, excitement, communication, innovation and finest. We do this by celebrating, coaching, marketing, and focusing on our human and physical environments. A few weeks ago, my direct reports and I participated in an all day retreat and not once did the words “budget cuts” come up. Now that is a quick WIN!

I also survived my first “mini-crisis” which occurred during spring break. Roof work was being done on Craven Hall which necessitated the evacuation of the 5th and 6th floors of the building for the afternoon which thankfully, was on a Friday. In collaboration with the incredible team of Katy Rees, Ellen Cardoso, Gina Frasca, Steve Watters and Gary Cinnamon, decisions were made and implemented that were in the best interests of our employees and the campus. Now that is a quick WIN!

As leaders, it is important to recognize that people want results but they also want to be part of the solution. Give full and undeniable to credit to those who support the University’s vision, mission and goals. They will return that support when times become challenging and indeed, they will. Respect for one and respect for all: that is the ultimate WIN!

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