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Thoughts From A Leader

man climbing a ladder

‘Things to remember’ when aspiring to grow in your career.  These items can apply to anyone seeking leadership growth, career advancement or expansion of a current role.

  1. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities, don’t be afraid to take on new projects. Saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities is a key to growing your skill set and demonstrating your abilities.  Saying ‘yes’ helps you expand your network and engage your energy in relevant projects.
  2. Seek out opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills, take a leap of faith.  If your current position lacks certain aspects you want from a future career, find another avenue.  Seek out volunteer opportunities or take a class in an area you’d like to develop.
  3. Keep calm in difficult situations, you can set the tone.  Reflect on your initial response to negative news or someone who consistently makes you bristle.  Take a breath and consider an alternative response, you can set the tone.

  4. Don’t shy away from confronting difficult situations.  Confrontation is not fun, but it is better to discuss a problem than to allow it time to grow.
  5. Do the right thing, even when the right thing is more difficult.  Crystal clear decisions are few and far between.  Taking time to gather the facts is important when dealing with student and instructor issues.
  6. Think about your skill set, don’t box yourself in.  You’ve been in a certain role for many years, but would like to branch out and try new things.  Make a list of the areas you’d like to strengthen – then see #2 above.
  7. Seek mentor relationships. 

    Mentor relationships can be formal or informal.  Look at individuals in roles where you have an interest.  Ask questions, seek feedback on ideas.  Don’t be intimidated to ask for a minute of their time, a few minutes of insight could help guide you toward your next step.

  8. Don’t get stuck, always keep growing.  If you’ve been in a role for several years, you may be the expert – but don’t stop learning! Seek ways to grow in your field or in a related (or un-related) area.

  9. Sometimes it is necessary to consider the ‘greater mission’ when making a decision.
    Many times in a leadership role, you must decide to ‘lay aside your sword’ and come to consensus with other departments, putting your priority second.  This does not mean you are underserving your area or that your priority will not resurface again, but you have recognized the need to move toward consensus for the greater good.

  10. Always focus on the mission of the college – what’s best for our students and the community?
    At the end of the day or when faced with a decision, ask yourself these questions – what is best for our students?  What is best for this community and our businesses?  Does this help students succeed?  Clarity often follows.


Shelley White

Senior Executive Director

Economic and Workforce Development/Continuing Education