The Importance of Leadership
As some of you will know from discussions we have had, or past blogs I have written, I am passionate about leadership and see it both as a noun and a verb. There are many definitions to describe and educate us on what Leadership IS. How we execute on that ourselves is very much about action and reaction. Doing is more than knowing.
I try to function from an enlightened leadership perspective daily – mostly leaning into authenticity. And since I am far from perfect as a human, that means that my leadership style isn’t always as enlightened as I would like it to be. There is always room to grow! Regardless, I love the journey that Higher Ed, and more specifically the Higher Ed IT environment, has provided me and the many ways in which it has helped me to form my approach to leadership over the last 22 years.
Leadership is like our humanity, a combination of nature and nurture. How we develop is partly based on who we are, who we have worked for and what we have learned along the way. And learning comes from watching, seeing and experiencing others’ leadership styles to learn what works well, and of course what does not work well. We are all very much impacted by the leaders we have experienced along the way. I am no different.
More recently, I have had the great advantage of learning leadership from our retiring Vice-President Administration, Roger Couldrey. Roger has been on campus for more than 10 years, so I was fortunate to catch the tail end of his tenure and to spend time seeing the way he exhibited kindness and empathy to all whom he came into contact. Roger saw us through the implementation of a new ERP, navigated through the IT Services Review, supported the establishment of a new McMaster IT Governance framework and was a steadfast champion of our McMaster IT Strategic Plan. Importantly, he also has a great sense of humour and always showed up at our IT community events to lend support, don an ugly Christmas sweater, and make us smile.
My takeaway from Roger’s leadership is the way in which he connected and listened with intention to everyone regardless of their role on campus, exhibiting strong values of fairness and respect. I am excited for Roger as he begins a new chapter after leading us for the past ten years and grateful that I will be able to keep in touch and hopefully see him about campus in the near future. Before his official ‘departure’, I was able to sit down with Roger for a Virtual Hallway Chat. It was a joy filled conversation filled with reflection, gratitude and laughter. I encourage you to listen in to hear about what Roger is up to next.
We are also very fortunate to have a new Vice-President Operations and Finance, Saher Fazilat, joining McMaster, officially starting last week. Saher was also kind enough to agree to a Virtual Hallway Chat with me prior to her start and I was very excited to have an opportunity to get to know her in a very candid and open conversation. She was also able to share some pre-recorded remarks for a recent McMaster IT Summer Check In, giving our McMaster IT Community an early introduction to her leadership style, which is clearly open and available. Making the time is a huge part of leadership, as is investing attention in the people and teams behind the work. Saher is already leading and modelling the way. I hope you’ll check out Saher’s Virtual Hallway Chat and learn more about her as she begins her McMaster experience with us.
For me, the saying that ‘people may not remember what you said but will remember how you made them feel’ rings true. My own experiences with the leaders I have worked for and admired has always been about the ‘feeling’ I was left with after each interaction, resulting in an enduring take away. The leaders that have a long-lasting impact were those that were able to achieve the ‘doing’ of leadership, knowing just what to do to consistently inspire, motivate and challenge me to grow and develop my own leadership skills and awareness. I am deeply grateful to continue to have many excellent McMaster peers and leaders with whom I can continue my leadership learning journey.gg's blog