Recently I found some notes I prepared for a combined faculty and staff meeting while serving as president of the Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Though several years old now, the notes reminded me of questions I would ask myself often when I could not sleep.
The meeting was just prior to a commencement weekend. The campus was beautiful. A major construction project on campus was progressing ahead of schedule. The combined meeting was a time of sharing mutual concerns, seeking resolution to problems faced by the group, and identifying ways we could increase and improve the communication flow between administration, faculty and staff.
Following a Bible study on I Thessalonians 2:1-16, I discussed some questions that I thought about often, especially late at night:
- Has your faith been strengthened or weakened as a result of your work at MVNU?
- In what ways do your spiritual gifts match the responsibilities assigned to you?
- Where do you feel most vulnerable or weak?
- How are you working to more effectively communicate MVNU’s mission and vision to the staff and faculty with whom you work most closely and those employees in your administrative division?
- What questions do you have for me?
- How can I help you? How can I assist you to increase your effectiveness in leading those for whom you are responsible?
- What would you like for me to consider or change in my leadership role at MVNU?
We talked about of working intentionally on relating to each other Christianly and professionally as we function efficiently and effectively in the ministry to which God has called each of us at the university. I shared the statement of former NBA star, James Worthy, regarding his head basketball coach, Dean Smith. “My development as a person was as important to him as my development as a player.” I really wanted that sentiment to be my epithet.
We talked about “skating where the puck” is heading,” quoting former pro hockey pro, Wayne Gretski. In an interview, he stated that “everybody skates where the puck is; I skate to where it is going.” The questions were asked: Are we skating around “what it is” or “where we think higher education is going?” Are we “skating” together or separately?
The importance of asking the right questions was discussed. Questions that focus on integrity. Trust. Quality. Innovation. Growth. Personal responsibility.
I quoted from the book, The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner (Jossey-Bass, 1995). The research of the two scholars indicated that, while organizations may have different sets of values, three central themes characterize highly successful, strong culture organizations: 1. High performance standards; 2, A caring attitude toward people; and 3. a sense of uniqueness and pride. They conclude, “Leadership is an affair of the heart, not of the head.”
“Leadership is an affair of the heart, not of the head.”
I concluded my remarks by sharing ten personal goals (way too many!) as I sought to make these leaders, administrators, faculty and staff, successful in their responsibilities on campus:
1. Find ways to HONOR your TIME.
2. Find ways to VALUE your WORK.
3. Find ways to BUILD your CONFIDENCE.
4. Find ways to INCREASE your COMPETENCE.
5. Find ways to SUPPORT your DECISIONS.
6. Find ways to HEAR your WORDS.
7. Find ways to NETWORK your IDEAS.
8. Find ways to AFFIRM your DREAMS.
9. Find ways to SIMPLIFY your ASSIGNMENTS.
10. Find ways to STRENGTHEN your FAITH.
These goals characterized me at my best, and convicted me at my worst during my 18 years at MVNU. The working luncheon was a highlight of the semester for me. Leadership really is a matter of the heart.
Leadership really is a matter of the heart.