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Building a Senior Administrative Team in Higher Ed

Our own Marylouise Fennell and Dr. Scott Miller were recently published in College and Planning Management discussing the importance of establishing a senior team. We’d like to share some highlights on this important topic. Team-building is foundational for a successful presidency. New presidents must be aware of current culture and not be rash, but make changes to establish momentum that will carry them through a successful presidency.

Here are four keys to building a successful team:

  1. Look for complementary skills and strengths. High-performing presidents are not threatened by individuals with greater skills. Effective leaders build on their own areas of strength while minimizing their weakness.

  2. Bring naysayers into the fold. Doris Kearns Goodwin highlighted in her 2005 bestseller Team of Rivals how Abraham Lincoln brought his critics into his inner circle, benefiting from their strengths and providing a diversity of perspectives and insights.

  3. Use a search consultant. An executive search firm will greatly broaden the playing field, identifying candidates who may not be actively looking. Properly used, an executive search firm saves time, money, and yields better results.

  4. Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.The best presidents surround themselves with senior advisors who can be counted on to tell them what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.