Strength and flexibility

I have been practicing yoga for several years now. The most challenging poses often are those that require both strength and flexibility, like the crane pose. 2 person crane pose

Leaders in higher education face challenges that also require strength and flexibility, including changing student demographics, ever-changing technology and demands for accountability and demonstrated outcomes. Additional challenges include financial and funding shifts and decreases, increasing competition, and a workforce composed of four generations, all with differing expectations of their employer and manager! To succeed, leaders need to challenge themselves and their institution to take on new and often uncomfortable roles while remaining focused on their mission and vision. In yoga we focus on our drishti, or focal point to stay balanced as we try new poses.

This month’s leadership competency of “Articulates Vision and Mission” includes both the clear focus of a strong purpose and the flexibility required to “lead and encourage adjustments in institutional roles.” In this context, flexibility is not being inconsistent or indecisive. Amazing leaders know how to combine their passions, their strengths, and their productivity to create a strength of purpose. Jim Collins calls this a hedgehog belief, as described in the following video – Hedgehog Concept. When combined with flexibility and nimbleness, that strength provides provides the direction and vision needed to make changes, even tough ones involving traditional roles, long-held views, processes that worked in the past and most difficult of all, your own leadership style and approach!

At Minnesota State Colleges and Universities we are drafting a strategy called “Charting the Future” that clearly defines our strength of purpose as a system of colleges and universities and the need for change. We are being challenged to  forge deeper collaborations and leverage our collective strengths. This will require new governance structures, new roles and responsibilities, new ways of communicating and new ways of leading. Successful leaders will have to demonstrate flexibility and make changes while staying focused on our strategic framework. Hard work for the institution and for each leader.

What are some examples of changes you have made to your leadership style based your hedgehog belief or institutional vision?

Todd Thorsgaard


One response to “Strength and flexibility

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