Personal attributes I bring each day to work include a commitment to excellence, respect for the individual, work ethic, honesty, a sense of humor, public speaking ability and leadership by example. A good leader should personify the organization. I was flattered when faculty from other universities said they were eager to follow my lead on projects, later when I was asked to deliver the 339th Commencement address at Ohio State, and recently when the Food Innovation Center I assembled across 12 colleges was one of only two selected for a $3.75 million award. Ohio Governor Strickland subsequently announced a statewide center in of excellence in April 2010 based on my work.
What I find most exciting is inspiring the best efforts of everyone in the organization. Getting people to share a common belief in excellence and to believe in the power of their own abilities is gratifying. Measuring the right outcomes and celebrating success is a key. Everyone wants to succeed and my job is to catch you in the act and inspire others to do the same. Jim Collins is now studying social sector leaders and says “true leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to.”
A good leader is a good listener. Creating an continuously improving organization is powerful. While trying to raise $6 million for our new building, I received critiques of my program and of my leadership. These critiques both good and bad had the gift of accuracy. We exceeded our goal and ended up with $12 million and a rich portfolio of great ideas.
Diversity is a leadership priority. Diversity in people yields a richer cultural and intellectual workplace with more ways to advance. Just like diversification of an investment portfolio helps protect from unforeseen circumstances, diversity in people helps an organization thrive in a changing environment. It is my responsibility to ensure diverse voices add to the chorus and all hear it. This is important so ask me for a separate personal diversity statement.
Collective wisdom beats individual vision. I am an advocate of faculty governance because it fosters cooperation and quality scholarship based on trust. I enjoyed support from department faculty for four consecutive terms. We succeeded with a clear long term mission enabling short term goals. Each member took responsibility for the reputation of their colleague and I functioned as a cheerleader, coach, mentor and recruiter. It is easier to excel when there is no penalty for failure. Ten years of consecutive national awards won by my faculty validates this approach.