Leadership Strategies to Enhance Faculty and Staff Buy-In

Credit: iStock.com/GOCMEN

Often academic leaders’ responsibilities focus on mobilizing faculty and staff to respond to current and forthcoming institutional challenges. The impact of two years of COVID-19 institutional disruption has created an environment where old, familiar ways of operating are no longer viable. Significant changes are called for—changes that require broad support and involvement. Building, maintaining, and enhancing faculty and staff buy-in for needed changes are now at the very center of academic leadership.

Acknowledging that there is no one way to build faculty and staff buy-in, we have found many of the following strategies to be effective. Institutional characteristics and circumstances coupled with individual skills and style will dictate leader behavior. Building buy-in demands that all are involved so the effort is viewed as “ours”—not a forced response to the leader’s singularly articulated plan.

When we have been most successful, leadership is akin to conducting an orchestra, directing a theater troupe, or coaching a team; it is not about demanding a specific response or strategy. Checking one’s ego at the door is a critical prerequisite.

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