Your campus leadership’s character can impact student well-being and institutional reputation in the marketplace.
And also, is it possible to network at a conference without using Twitter?
Thanks for being here.
The Role of Your Leader’s Character in Your Team’s Well Being
Sometimes, the magic of serendipity strikes when you read two unrelated articles in the same morning.
Last week, I read an article on how professors can take action to increase student well being. And I thought to myself, “Yes, we need to do these things for students across higher education, but we also need to do them for our administrative teams.” Then, I read a second article from the MIT Sloan School of Management on making your leaders’ character your comparative advantage.
Well-being article + leader character article = LIGHTNING BOLT OF INSIGHT
(Refill your coffee now. This one takes a bit of explaining.)
First, let’s look at the list of behaviors professors can do to increase the well-being of their students:
- Get to know your students’ top stressors.
- Take an active role in well-being.
- Show empathy by being flexible and mindful of deadlines.
- Include wellness resources in syllabi and class sessions.
- Strive for equity and access in the classroom environment.
- Participate in training to pick up on signs a student is in crisis.
- Make time for self-care since constantly supporting students can be draining.
Quickly, let’s translate this to marketing, communication, and web management teams:
- Get to know your team members’ top stressors.
- Take an active role in well-being.
- Show empathy by being flexible and mindful of workload.
- Include wellness resources in onboarding resources and team meetings.
- Strive for equity and access in the work environment.
- Participate in training to pick up on signs a team member is in crisis.
- Make time for self-care since constantly supporting your team members can be draining.
This sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?
Okay, let’s pivot to the MIT Sloan article.
Authors Mary Crossan, Bill Furlong, and Robert Austin use a Leader Character Framework with these ten attributes:
They find that many organizations focus on Drive, Accountability, and Integrity and ignore all the others.
An interesting thing about character attributes is that each one has a sweet spot. Virtues in excess become vices. Here’s an example:
Say the virtue in question is “Principled.” The absence of the virtue is “Unprincipled.” However, in excess, the virtue slips into “Dogmatic.”
Here’s another one. Say you are going for “Conscientious.” The absence of conscientiousness is “Negligent.” But, conscientiousness in excess breeds “Obsession.”
So, here’s where we get a little weird. When we prioritize some attributes at the expense of others, we see good virtues slip into vices. You see, these attributes balance each other. Our vices are held in check by other attributes.
But as it turns out, in office culture, vices are not seen as virtues run amok due to the underdeveloped attributes meant to keep them in balance. They’re seen as personality quirks. A person with unbridled workplace vices may be described as ‘rough around the edges.’
In reality, vices indicate someone who is not working from a fully developed set of character attributes. And that leaves them with a compromised decision-making facility.
Okay, now let’s look at our team’s well-being strategies again in this light. What if these activities were viewed through the lenses of other character attributes besides Drive, Accountability, and Integrity? It might look something like this:
- Get to know your team members’ top stressors –> Humanity
- Take an active role in well-being –> Transcendence
- Show empathy by being flexible and mindful of workload –> Humility & Temperance
- Include wellness resources in onboarding resources and team meetings –> Courage & Collaboration
- Strive for equity and access in the work environment –> Courage, Humility, & Justice
- Participate in training to pick up on signs a team member is in crisis –> Humanity and Justice
- Make time for self-care since constantly supporting your team members can be draining –> Humility & Temperance
I’m not suggesting that Drive, Accountability, and Integrity don’t have a place here. But, when these strategies are also understood through attributes like Humanity, Humility, Collaboration, and Justice, I imagine the judgments made across these strategies will be more effective.
This is all to say that character affects team culture and well-being. Dimensions of character can be talked about and developed. Dimensions of character can even be hired for.
If your office is experiencing high turnover, complacency, or fear of uncertainty - or if your team members have expressed a need for a refocus on well-being - there is no better time than right now to examine your leaders’ character attributes and make them your comparative advantage.
- Kristin Van Dorn
Conference Networking Without Twitter
Last week, our entire team (all four of us) went to Little Rock for #HEWeb22.
Despite some travel-related woes, it was an enlightening experience filled with learning, laughing, and of course, pizza.
Here is a ten-tweet summary of what we learned in Arkansas:
— Bravery (@braverymedia) October 20, 2022
Look, hear me out.
What if we didn’t need Twitter to have a fulfilling conference experience?
What if we used other platforms to engage with attendees and chime in with our thoughts?
Would posts like the above Twitter thread be as meaningful on other platforms?
I think so, yes.
Just find the “official” conference hashtag, and start posting about it on the following platforms:
Here are a few conference-y example posts for each:
- LinkedIn: “What I learned during Fake Name’s Session on Admissions-specific Podcasts.” Be sure to tag the speaker, use the hashtag in the post, and then sort all posts using that hashtag by recency.
- TikTok: Find a pre-existing post where the user asks about the last time you learned something meaningful, and use the stitch feature to add your own insights. Include the hashtag in your post.
- Instagram: If you can, ask for a quick word with a speaker you found particularly helpful. Record yourself asking a question or two, and then add that footage to your story. Then add those clips to your profile as Story Highlights.
- YouTube: Make a conference recap video, and use the hashtag in the video’s name and description. Then, when other attendees seek conference-related insights post-event, your video will appear in the search results.
- BeReal: When you inevitably encounter other attendees “Being Real” simultaneously, it’s a great ice-breaker/chance to introduce yourself.
Some might argue that Twittering at conferences offers a faster, more personable way to interact, and to that, I’d say, “to each their own.”
But also, “meh.”
I think it’s possible to foster new connections and grow your personal brand without the blue bird’s help.
And who knows?
If Twitter continues to devolve at the rate it has in the last week, we might have to.
- Carl Gratiot