Developing into the hard spaces

I spent most of this week at the Luoma Leadership Academy, a year-long program in which about 60 leaders at Minnesota State have been learning about leadership and putting it into practice with action learning projects.

At the graduation program, Senior Vice Chancellor Ron Anderson spoke about the importance of developing ourselves as leaders. I appreciated his thoughts about the importance of development, even when it’s hard.

First, he talked about becoming comfortable living in the “murky space” of continuous change. He challenged us to stand up, step out of our comfort zones, and engage in what we could do, not just what we are doing. Increasing our comfort with change, from a work and personal standpoint, enables us to better serve our students, institutions, and the system.

He also challenged us to become comfortable with failure. As we push ourselves and our institutions into new places, we will try some things that don’t work. He reminded us that failure isn’t bad, and it doesn’t mean we’re bad leaders. As long as we learn from it, failure is part of the development process.

As Vice Chancellor Anderson pointed out, we in higher ed are less likely than some other industries to support the idea of “fail early and often.” Developing ourselves as leaders for the future will mean moving into that space and trying new things, even if we aren’t sure whether it will work as planned.

Putting ourselves into places that may be uncomfortable, and stretching our boundaries, is a key component to our work as leaders. What uncomfortable challenge have you taken on recently?

Dee Anne Bonebright

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