In the past, university presidents were academic and internally focused; today business acumen is prized and the majority of time is spent on developing relationships and fundraising. What are the distinctions that separate a strong legacy from a floundering leader? Marylouise Fennell shares these key areas:
Perceptions matter. As the figurehead of an organization, your actions reflect on your office. Two rules of thumb: “How would it look on the front page of tomorrow’s paper?” and “What would happen to the institution/community/profession if all presidents emulated this action?”
Spend judiciously. “Mishandling or perceived misuse of institutional funds has probably compromised the effectiveness of more CEOs than any other behavior.” Particularly in these times of reduced educational funding, it’s vital that presidents avoid extravagance with personal or institutional funds.
Be accountable. True leaders are willing to own their actions and take the helm in difficult situations. Excuses and passing the buck are abdications of responsibility that will have devastating effects.
Put the public good first. Quality leaders take their charge to handle the affairs of an organization seriously and never vacillate between what is personally advantageous and institutionally appropriate.