Conferences provide an opportunity to break from the weekly routine, allowing us to refresh our perspectives as peers showcase their accomplishments and vendors present practical solutions with their products and services. Whether we spend our time attending sessions related to our roles on campus or just networking with peers, conferences can help offer a reset, professionally.
It is through collaboration and our ability to learn from those around us that makes professional conferences invaluable. Whether we serve the Business Office, IT, Academics, or Admissions, our participation in these communities have a direct impact on Higher Education. By returning to campus with ideas, each of us has the potential to bring back to our teams the knowledge that we’ve gathered with a hope and desire to move our institution forward.
So, how do you turn your ideas into action?
Upon arriving at High Point University, Dr. Nido Qubein brought on positive change on a pace and magnitude higher education had seldom seen before. At HPU, Dr. Qubein has taken the institution from a small, hidden college in North Carolina to an institution of national stature. The first step he took was to organize a team that he trusted to deliver. Once that team was in place, he did what we believe is the most powerful thing we’ve experienced in leadership: he set his team free.
Instead of telling employees what to do, Dr. Qubein clearly stated his expectations about what the institution should be, communicating ownership to everyone, and solidifying a team excited about achieving results. He set the parameters for how to think about growth and budget. The task then became delivering with excellence. At High Point University, the institution became what it is today based on these exact principles.
The day-to-day impact of this approach to leadership was that we never had to ask anyone else for permission once a decision was made. We moved forward with speed and confidence. In the eventuality that we needed to check with the president to receive his input on a specific choice, we never waited more than five minutes to receive a definitive answer. This is the speed with which an institution can continue to move forward with confidence at lightning speed.
If you want to start a revolution of action, you must not worry about what you cannot control. If you hold a position in which others report to you, don’t worry about convincing those above you to work this way. Start by setting YOUR staff free. Make them feel comfortable to make decisions, and encourage your team to push forward when they find success, but stand by them when they falter. Their production will create an environment of progress around campus that no uninspired culture will be able to mute.
Although there may be those on campus who are more concerned with how a decision might be perceived (i.e. “What if I make the wrong decision,” or “Am I able to decide without considering others’ feedback?”), we encourage those individuals to be bold and attempt to move the needle. We believe that they will see the power of human value shine, and their professional career will blossom.
When you return to campus after the next conference you attend, what will you take with you? Will your experiences be condensed down to entries on an expense report, or will you carry the conversations you had back to campus and turn that experience into action?