I a still at the Learning Technology Leadership program from the Educause Institute, and the latest reflection piece we’ve had is on leadership. Unlike the first assignment, this one was done in the morning, before getting on with the day. So it’s shorter.
We were asked to discuss how the first day’s discussion may have changed our views on leadership. My response follows, and additional commentary past the jump.
While the concept of leading from within a group (rather than at the forefront) is nothing new, the discussion that stemmed from the governance committee model at Northwestern still struck a chord. Even at a small institution such as mine, where working with anyone means working with everyone, maintaining a steady focus on communications and sharing the ownership of knowledge and understanding is a powerful tool.
Unfortunately, this also takes a lot of energy. I am inspired by the prospects of what such shared communication can provide. Yet I am also concerned about the sheer amount of effort required to sustain such a program. At a larger institution, you not only have more resources in terms of number of people from your own organization to attend these meetings, but just more people in general. At a small institution, at some point, these committees are all the same people, and you have to watch for burn-out, disillusionment, and perhaps even annoyance with the process. That is completely counterproductive.
It will be a delicate balance and I will be adding “informal” to many of the names of these governance/communication groups, but it certainly has great impact, regardless of institution size. And that means it’s worth the effort, in almost any case.