Are You Tough Enough?

As administrators we’ve heard it often enough and probably said it a few times ourselves: “In order to be an academic leader, you have to be able to make the tough decisions. What deans and department chairs do is hard work. You need to stand up for what’s right, not what’s popular, and take the heat when you’re doing what you know is right.” There’s certainly plenty of truth to these statements. It’s always easier to say yes to someone than to say no, and it’s particularly difficult to refuse a request from someone you regard as a colleague, perhaps even as a friend. But it’s also easy to focus far too much on the need for academic leaders to have a thick skin and to screen every candidate for an administrative position with the litmus test of “Are you tough enough?”

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