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Author: Laurie Elish-Piper

what influences academic leadership
During my time as a dean, I’ve learned a lot about budgets, fundraising, strategy, recruitment, retention, and personnel matters, but I’ve also discovered seven big ideas about how my outlook and approach influence my leadership. Big Idea 1: Optimism matters With so many negative stories about higher education in the media, it’s easy to feel frustrated about the expectation to always “do more with less.” Therefore, it’s essential to be an optimistic leader. Big Idea 2: Kindness and care matter In the high-pressure world of higher education, kindness, appreciation, and even a smile can make a huge difference. Big Idea 3: Communication matters Communication is not an occasional consideration for academic leaders—it’s a daily priority and opportunity for you to improve your leadership. Big Idea 4: Intentionality matters Making data-based decisions is important; however, data alone may not tell the whole story. Be sure to consider how decisions will affect students, families, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners. Big Idea 5: Relationships matter Being an academic leader is “people work.” Whether you are interacting with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community partners, or prospective students and their families, strive to build positive, productive relationships. Big Idea 6: Collaboration matters Because leadership in higher education is relatively flat, academic leaders must rely on consensus building. Big Idea 7: Inspiration matters While it’s easy to get caught up in the transactional nature of being an academic leader, strive to be the kind of leader that others want to follow. Final thoughts That’s quite a list, but as I’m reminded daily, being an academic leader is a huge responsibility. And I have one final big idea to share—remember to breathe, smile, and take care of yourself so you can get up tomorrow and do it again! Laurie Elish-Piper, PhD, is dean, distinguished teaching professor, and presidential engagement professor in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University.