Actions over Images

Posted March 28, 2012 by adamcasler
Categories: Uncategorized

I really debated posting this one.  I’m not sure if I’m the best voice to bring this topic up, but I have seen so many SA pros take controversial stances (aka James Frier’s post on the #SAchat community among others) that I feel I can’t sit this one out.

I want to start by saying that I am aware that the topic I am about to dive into is highly sensitive and is something that continues to evolve as we learn more information.  I do not want anyone to think that these remarks are coming from an insensitive place, as that is not my intention at all.  It is my hope that we use the topic below as a starting point to better inform our ongoing work and development as a profession charged with educating students (and ourselves).

On Monday, I saw my Twitter feed start to talk about tweet-ups and a couple of them encouraged attendees to wear hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin.  For those unfamiliar with this case, I would suggest reading up on it, as I don’t want to try to encapsulate the case here, for fear of missing an important detail and then having my main point be missed.

While I think that the visual image of solidarity through wearing hoodies is a fine expression regarding a tragic situation involving the unnecessary loss of a young life, I also have to stop and think “What other ways can our profession address underlying issues in our society related to race, class, violence, and a myriad of other social issues that continue to plague our society and world?”  I think that the wearing of hoodies can be a powerful initial showing of solidarity and can be a powerful demonstration that this is an issue that we recognize as a potential defining moment in how we talk about race, class, gender, violence, and other problems.  My hope is that this is only a first step, and that we use this moment to increase awareness, and then transform that awareness into other actions and educational opportunities.

Disclaimer – I am not an expert in social justice work or theory.  I am privileged as a white,  middle class man who lives in a low-crime area.  With that said, I feel that if our sole focus becomes presenting “images” of solidarity, such as wearing hoodies in this case, then we are failing to properly do our work as educators.  The concept behind social justice (in my self-acknowledged narrow understanding) is rooted in the ability to educate our students about societal inequalities and spur students, as well as ourselves, to action.  While I admit that for many of our students, the image of solidarity through an action such as wearing a hoodie is probably at the level of development where our students are at the present time in their own personal development.  However, if ever there was a time to challenge them (challenge and support!?), I would argue the time is now!  We should be working to address injustices that prevent equal and full participation in a society where each of us has the ability to make our own choices in a safe environment.

I am currently not at ACPA.  Perhaps these conversations are happening, and fellow student affairs professionals are engaged in these conversations about privilege, injustice, and our role in educating students.  If they are, please be sure to use the backchannel and social media to share what you are discussing!  It is my hope that we use this opportunity to create workshops, webinars, and “unconference” sessions on these topics, as with all of the attention that this case has garnered thus far, now is a great time for us to share our ideas and approaches to educating students on these important topics.  Bringing ideas back to our campuses and working with our own diversity/multicultural/social justice offices will hopefully lead to a better understanding of issues that challenge our society.

I would welcome ideas on how we as a community can be moved to action as a group of people who are clearly committed to creating positive change in our world through our work with students.

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#OneWord2012 Updates

Posted March 26, 2012 by adamcasler
Categories: Personal, Residence Life & Housing, Student Affairs

Wow!  It’s been two months since I blogged last.  Really need to step it up and get back on the bandwagon.  The easy response is to say that “work was busy” however, I came up with my “OneWord” for 2012 to help me stop using that excuse.

Back in January when I chose focus as my word for 2012, I felt that this was needed to help bring me to a more balanced idea of self and values.  Fortunately, almost three full months into 2012, I think that the choice of focus really is helping me grow as a friend, student, and SA professional.

In terms of my personal life, I have made it a commitment to try to reconnect with friends and not let months go by without returning phone calls or e-mails.  This has led to some great conversations with my best friends, and stepping up and even visiting my friend John, who lives in Boston, twice already this year.  While it might not seem like a big deal, trust me, for me, this was huge, as John can attest to!  I know talk to friends on the phone much more regularly, and despite my continued hatred of talking on the phone, it is good to reengage with people who are so important to me.  I also have been trying to make new friendships as well.  Twitter has been a saving grace with this, as I’ve had the opportunity to gain a new mentor, Torry Bruce (University of the Pacific) and two new friends, Austin Arias and Will Kauff, all three of whom I have truly enjoyed getting to know and am excited to continue these new friendships.  I also had the opportunity to FINALLY connect “in real life” to two additional wonderful mentors, Cindy Kane & Beth Moriarty (both members of the Bridgewater State University community) at a conference at BU back in February.  On a side-bar, I’m finding that these smaller day-conferences or “drive-ins” are actually (to me) much more beneficial than large conferences, as smaller conferences have a specific focus and it’s usually pretty clear what you’re signing up for.  At the national conferences, it’s hard to focus in on issues with a group of people, as everyone is constantly rushing to another session, doing interviews for positions, or catching up with colleagues from across the country.  I’m hopeful that smaller conferences like he BU Confab continue to happen!

At work, I haven’t made quite the progress that I would have liked.  With the chaos of RA Selection, I haven’t devoted as much time as I would have liked to for reconnecting with my residents.  I have been doing some more walk-throughs of the building and impromptu drop-bys, but my goal of making it to more programs hasn’t panned out the way I’d hoped.  With my co-workers, I have been so happy with how they have all pitched in for our big spring operations including RA Selection, Housing Selection, and our committee work (First Year Experience, Second Year Experience, etc).  I feel like we have become an extremely close-knit team and as a result, our productivity is letting us get a jump start on some bigger picture things that we normally would have waited until the summer (if ever!) to begin.

All in all, 2012 is starting off as a great year!  I’m excited to see what else it brings!

How are you doing with your #oneword2012??  Feel free to share your progress with me!  I’d love to hear about it.

That Wonderful Time of the Year – Staff Selection!

Posted January 23, 2012 by adamcasler
Categories: Residence Life & Housing, Student Affairs

I love the spring semester in Student Affairs.  Some of you are probably looking at me with eyes about ready to pop out of your head thinking “Is he crazy?” or “My God, he’s finally lost it” but let me explain why.  Despite how chaotic spring semester is in SA, it is also a time where our organizations get some new life.  New SGA officers are assuming their new responsibilities and are bringing new issues to the table for debate and discussion.  New programming board officers are (hopefully) saying “Why CAN’T we try this new program?”  And, in my office, we are gearing up for RA and (possibly) RD Selection.

There is something reinvigorating about starting to plan for the next academic year.  Seeing so many new candidates exploring ways to become involved on campus and further develop their leadership opportunities is extremely reaffirming to me, especially as an ever-growing part of my role is dealing with student conduct issues and a small group of students who continuously fail to recognize the impacts that their actions have on themselves and their fellow students.

This year is a year of significant student staff turnover for us, as we are losing more than 30 of our 61 RAs.  The Class of 2012 saw some phenomenal student leaders serving as RAs and the leadership void they will leave will be significant, but NOT insurmountable.  Having the conversations with rising juniors and seniors has helped to identify those staff members who are ready for the next step and can become next year’s RA leaders.  I’m curious to hear some responses to some general questions regarding students stepping up to new leadership opportunities.

How do you coach rising juniors and seniors to fill the leadership “gap” left by graduating and non-returning students?

What are creative ways to reach out to untapped populations of students who are still looking to make their mark at the college/university?

What programs/trainings do you offer to ensure that applicants are well-versed in the expectations of your leadership positions?

Despite my level of enthusiasm for the spring semester, there is one area that always makes me cringe: e-mail etiquette.  Despite all of our best efforts in my office to identify potential RA candidates (RA and RD nominations of candidates, soliciting faculty and staff for names of outstanding students, attending student club and organization meetings, and word of mouth), we still rely heavily on self-nominations from students who see a campus-wide e-mail from me or their RD and decide to apply.

Given that our entire process is done electronically through BlackBoard (application, submission of resume/cover letter, reference forms, etc), candidates need to be enrolled in our Selection course, which means an e-mail to me asking to be enrolled.  Now, I want to put a disclaimer that I do not expect to receive a multiple paragraph e-mail for a simple request to be enrolled in our online selection course.  However, I do believe that there are some simple rules that can and should be followed by students who are drafting professional correspondence that is their first formal introduction to a hiring manager.  Receiving more than 10 e-mails with some variation of “hey, i saw ur e-mail about being an RA and want to apply.  how do i do it?” is, in my opinion, an open invitation for a “teachable” moment with my students about e-mail etiquette.  Fortunately, my saving grace for all things etiquette, Emily Post online features some simple and straightforward tips for e-mail etiquette:

1.) Your subject line is your first impression.

Be sure to include an informative and poignant subject line. Never send an e-mail with “no subject” in the subject line.

2.) Salutations, closing, and signature blocks.

While there is no doubt that e-mail is more informal than a typed letter, salutations and closings are still important. When composing e-mail to senior management always use a more formal greeting. When in doubt, defer to the formal. For example, use Mr. or Ms., hello versus hi, or Elizabeth versus Liz. When communicating with senior management you should also end the e-mail with a formal sign-off as well.

3.) Grammar and word choice matter.

While spell-check is a great tool, always read your e-mails over once or twice for grammar, spelling and word choice. E-mail is not an excuse for misspellings, grammatical errors, or punctual mistakes.

4.) Be conscious of your voice.

Be aware of usage of all caps, emoticons, and text message abbreviation. Using all capital letters tends to convey to the reader that you are shouting at them and tends to be harder to read. Also be aware that in the absence of facial expressions or tone of voice, interpretation defaults to the negative.

** http://www.emilypost.com/communication-and-technology/computers-and-communication/796-five-tips-for-e-mail-communication

How are we teaching our students to be effective communicators through their written correspondence with faculty, staff, and administrators?

Does anyone have any useful tools or tips that they have had success with in teaching students about appropriate e-communications?

Please send me your thoughts/ideas either through the comments section or through twitter @adamcasler.  Thanks for reading!

#OneWord2012 – Focus

Posted January 3, 2012 by adamcasler
Categories: Uncategorized

Over the past few days, I’ve seen a lot of people from the #sachat community posting their #oneword2012 choices. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate, because I didn’t know what my word would be, as so many of the words that were coming across my feed that I didn’t feel I could make a decision that would encompass everything.

Words like progress, share, intentional, cultivate, congruency, connect, confidence, and so many other great choices all made me think about what I could do that could someone combine all of these factors. For me, the word that met this criterion was focus. A fitting word, given that it is one of my five Strengths and something that I recognize I need to improve in 2012. Several areas of “focus” will be important for this upcoming year.

Focus on Friendships: I have let my work be a never-ending excuse for failing to keep in touch with people. I realize that this must end soon, as I know that this excuse has been wearing thin with many people, including my oldest friends. In truth, there is no excuse for failing to focus on friendships other than I have been a bad friend. I’ve always prided myself on having friends that I know would do anything for me (and vice versa), and I do not want to risk losing or further damaging these friendships because of an excuse. Everyone works, we all have outside lives, and the time to reengage with these people is paramount.

Focus on Students: This is an area where I feel I have consistently done well, although, recently I’ve been forced to question whether or not the saying “The higher you rise in student affairs, the less direct contact you have with students” is true or not. Given that my position is still live-on, I’m fortunate that I do get to have some great connections with students, however, these are more frequently occurring on nights and weekends, as during the day, I’m finding myself being pulled into more administrative and planning meetings. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying these new aspects of my role at Siena, I’m actually loving it, I just need to remember to continue to focus on the students that I serve, even if that means “scheduling” time in my calendar to be present and visible for them.

Focus on Social Media: The #sachat community has opened up many new doors for sharing information, ideas, and forging new friendships that I probably would never had the opportunity to cultivate otherwise. At times, my engagement in this group has been lackluster, and a renewed commitment to engaging with professional colleagues and others through these venues is an essential part of my evolving “best practices” as a professional in student affairs.

Focus on Education: Now that the reality of being more than ½ way done with my Ph.D. coursework has hit me, it’s really time to buckle down and plan for the final stages of my final (thank God) degree. The comprehensive examination, and dissertation proposal are the two big obstacles at the moment. Fortunately, I have a very good advisor, so am looking forward to this semester being a time for us to plot out the next three years to ensure everything is completed and I can apply for candidacy in May 2014.

Focus on Health: After almost 5 years of living in Albany, I finally bit the bullet and set up a physical and established a primary care physician. I must admit, I didn’t do this because it was the normal thing to do, I had hurt my knee and wanted to make sure I didn’t do something really wrong to it. Fortunately, I found a great doctor through my friend Jen who didn’t pull any punches with me. My doctor said that while I was in pretty good health in terms of eyesight, hearing, cholesterol, and most other factors, she was very concerned about my weight. This wasn’t a shock, as I’ve been overweight for a number of years. What was shocking was to hear her flat out tell me “You’re going to lose at least 20 pounds by March 22.” I was a bit taken aback by how forceful she was, but I also know myself well enough to know that maybe this was the kick in the butt I needed to get moving. Fingers crossed!

Focus on Family: This one has never been a problem, but it warrants mentioning. Spending the holidays with my parents, while stressful at times, always re-centers me and helps me remember that there are things more important than my career. Seeing my parents still in love after 30 years is reaffirming that anything is possible with the love, devotion, and loyalty that I see them exhibit daily and has made me realize that this is what I hope to have someday when I “settle down” and start my own family.

Overall, I’m confident that 2012 will be a great year. I hope that a year of “focus” will allow me to be happy, healthy, and committed to all that I do.

What is YOUR #oneword2012? Tweet it to me (@adamcasler) or share in the comments below!

Where the Right goes Wrong

Posted December 13, 2011 by adamcasler
Categories: Personal

I want to start this most recent post with a few general comments so people know where I’m coming from on this so they don’t jump to conclusions.

First, I’m a registered republican.  GASP.  A gay man working in student affairs who self-discloses that he is a republican?!?!  Say WHAT?  Despite being a registered republican, that does not mean that I vote blindly along party lines, especially in recent years as I’ve seen true republican ideals hijacked by an extreme right-wing focusing solely on religious issues, forcing a growing number of people in the Republican Party to vote for the Democratic Party as “the lesser of two evils.”  It seems that this concept is beginning more and more prevalent in our political system, as the two sides can’t even agree on the most minor of issues.

So, you’re probably asking why am I writing about politics.  The short answer is that after watching GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s “Strong” video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PAJNntoRgA) I had an instant desire to speak my mind on what I perceive as true Republican values, and to dispel the idiocy that is coming from candidates who appear to be working to pander to a small, but vocal, minority of people and special interests groups who have absolutely no desire to spread true religious ideas, but to impose their personal interpretations of religious texts onto others.  With that said, here are a few “basic” ideas that I feel identify me as a true Republican, lessons that I hope the Republican Party will remember in order to come to their senses and attempt to repair the years of damage they have caused.

Role of Government: True republicans believe in the power of local and state government.  Likewise, I believe that the most meaningful changes for our communities can come from these two smaller entities.  In broad strokes, the federal government should provide oversight and guidance to local governments, but shouldn’t legislate in ways that hinder the economic abilities of local communities, towns, and even large cities.  The people of these areas are best suited to be involved in making decisions that will impact their lives.  The current GOP candidates are more concerned about eliminating entire agencies in the federal government to score cheap points then they are in actually solving the problems facing our country (and plus, if we were to eliminate these federal agencies as some candidates have suggested, how is that going to help the economic recovery?  Still haven’t received an answer to that question yet….)

Economic Prosperity: I do believe in the power of the market, as most republicans do.  With that said, I do not believe we should continue to add more and more corporate tax loopholes for major corporations.  If we as consumers decide to buy a product, the company that makes the product should pay the applicable taxes.  Whether a local business or a multinational corporation, all businesses have a direct hand in providing jobs, infusing money into local economies, and providing goods and services that we as consumers have decided are necessary.  We can’t blame companies for using the systems currently in place.  Corporations did not enact laws giving tax loopholes and other incentives, we did, by allowing our congressmen and senators to approve these measures.  While I recognize lobbying money plays an influence, I would refer you again to the question, who allowed lobbying to become so pervasive…..congressmen and senators that we as voters have failed to send to retirement or other career options for not standing up for our interests.

Term Limits: Not necessarily solely a republican value, but this is something that national polls indicate is a growing issue for the majority of Americans.  While not always the most “fair and balanced” organization, in 2010, a Fox News poll indicated that 78% of Americans favored setting term limits on Congress.  This idea makes sense for a number of reasons.  First, we do it for the president, and if all three branches of government are supposed to be equal, why wouldn’t we do the same for Congress?  Second, politics is supposed to be about a call to service, NOT a career.  Politicians should serve their constituents for a specified maximum amount of time, or until a particular interest to their constituents is resolved, and then leave the political arena.  Third, term limits would ensure that new ideas, new faces, and hopefully more diverse candidates would enter politics instead of the current system where over 75% of Congress is a millionaire, and an overwhelming number of members are white, heterosexual, men.  Is this really the best representation of our country?

LGBT Military Service: I can’t believe this is still an issue, even after DADT was revoked.  Perry’s “Strong” video is a direct attack on the men and women who are LGBT and serve our country.  In fact, at a recent GOP debate (I can’t remember which one, as the GOP debates are so numerous that it appears to have turned into a new reality series I’d like to dub “True Life: The Hot Mess Express”), not one of the candidates came to the defense of a service member who asked about the repeal of DADT.  My thoughts are simple, for those of you who don’t like the idea of LGBT people serving in the military, how about you get off your ass, put on a uniform, and put your life on the line for your country?  If you’re not willing to do that, then back off, and let these brave men and women serve the country that they love, cause you apparently aren’t willing to put your money where your mouth is.

Gay Marriage: I’ve never understood the argument against gay marriage.  Those people who say it goes against their religion MAY have a validate opinion in the context of their religious beliefs.  However, the key factor here is: LGBT people don’t want to get married in your church, we want to get married as a civil right in which we receive the same benefits (economic, social, medical, etc) as every other American.  There seems to be an inability by some to separate the religious and the civil constructs of marriage.  I respect the religious arguments surrounding homosexuality (I don’t agree with them, but I respect a person’s right to faith and to believe what they want), but that doesn’t mean that one particular religious groups beliefs should be enforced on our entire country, a country that I might add was founded on the right of each person to practice their own religion, and to the “rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Tell you what, you don’t infringe on my right to pursue happiness, and I won’t infringe on yours (I’m talking to you Newt Gingrich….tell me, what’s more dangerous to marriage, allowing two men or two women who love each other to get married as an expression of that love, or someone like you who has proven multiple times that he cannot remain faithful and respectful to his wives and the institution of marriage?)

In closing, I’d like to leave everyone with a reminder by someone the Right still considers to be one of our best leaders, Ronald Reagan.  While the quote below focuses mainly on church and state, if you focus on the word “belief” in the broadest sense of the word, it demonstrates that true republicans believe in personal freedom and choice, something I am proud to say I believe in.

“We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief. Nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief. At the same time as our constitution prohibits state religion, establishment of it protects the free exercise of all religions. And walking this fine line requires government to be strictly neutral.”


Assessing Skill Development in Student Affairs

Posted December 2, 2011 by adamcasler
Categories: Personal, Residence Life & Housing, Student Affairs

This morning, I read a quick news bullet on Inside Higher Ed noting that President Obama has invited the presidents of several colleges and universities to the White House for a discussion on “affordability and productivity in higher education.”  While I wholeheartedly agree that the affordability of higher education is an issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible (but won’t be covered in my blog today), the addition of the word productivity caused me to pause.  There has been a push in recent years to make higher education “more accountable” to the public, and one of those means has been to increase assessment and demonstrate that the work we do in higher education has value and contributes to the holistic development of our students.

In student affairs, we have, in the past, been slow to jump on this bandwagon.  However, in an era of shrinking budgets, political maneuvering for scarce resources and the need to maintain and grow programs that we know are having impacts, assessment has become a core value of many student affairs divisions and departments.  The larger problem with assessment is that our current efforts to assess student learning, co-curricular programs and other initiatives are failing to assess what businesses and employers are looking for in their perspective employee base.

Forbes annually publishes a list of skills/traits that employers have rated as the most important skills for new employees.  The most recent list includes the following seven skills:

1.)    Communication Skills – the ability to listen, empathize, and respond to others.

2.)    Creativity – The ability to easily adapt and adjust to multiple roles and projects in the workplace

3.)    Curiosity and Engagement – Employees who will ask “Why?” and “How?” questions and will look at processes, operations, and systems critically and offer suggestions for improvement

4.)    Writing Ability – Regardless of whether sending e-mails, memos, proposals, reports, or even texts, you are still engaged in professional correspondence which should reflect clear thinking.

5.)    Teamwork – Being able to build a team, establish common goals and responsibilities, and most importantly, address conflicts fairly, quickly, and directly.

6.)    Re-engineering Skills – Being willing to learn new skills on the job and take on new tasks and projects not normally under your area of responsibility.

7.)    Computer Skills – The ability to utilize hardware and software to augment your productivity.

As a graduate of a small, private, liberal arts college, I am proud to say that most of these skills were taught not only by my faculty members and academic program where I was required to take a variety of courses outside of my major (history), but also by my mentors and advisors in the division of student life.  Student affairs professionals are vital players in ensuring that we are equipping our students with many of these “soft” and “hard” skills so they can be successful in ANY career field, as all of the above mentioned skills/traits are the type of transferable skills that every employer wants their employees to possess in one way, shape, or form.

I know that at my current institution, we have had trouble articulating and measuring ways in which we help students learn these skills, so I am curious how colleagues at other institutions have incorporated assessing these variables into their overall assessment plans.  Any help or advice is, as always, greatly appreciated!

Leadership and Civic Responsibility

Posted November 10, 2011 by adamcasler
Categories: Personal, Residence Life & Housing, Student Affairs

Last weekend, I went home to spend some time with my parents.  They’ve never been the “sit down and relax” type of people, and there’s never a shortage of projects or adventures with them.  This particular weekend, the three of us took a couple of trips up to camp with truckloads of firewood in preparation for next summer.

On the ride home, Dad and I got talking about the upcoming election in our town.  My father had been the Supervisor (similar to a mayor of a village/city) for over 20 years until he resigned in November 2010 after some extremely personal attacks directed at him and the company he worked for.  The long story is that in addition to my father being supervisor, he works for a road construction and paving company in our town, one of only a handful of revenue producing businesses, due to our small size (approx. 1,800 people).  A recent proposal came before the town board in 2009 to examine the feasibility of developing windmills in the town.  Given that there was no law, the town board hired an attorney to investigate best practices and to establish guidelines that wouldn’t hurt the environment and ensure additional revenue came into the town to help lower tax rates.  During this debate, my father, who never took a position as pro- or anti-windmills, came under attack based on his place of employment.  People argued that the company stood to make money based on the large amount of land they own.  What these people didn’t seem to grasp, no matter how hard my father tried to explain, is that this company is a MINING company, i.e. they want to take things OUT of the ground, not build windmills which would prevent mining for stone and materials for asphalt, etc.  People also began saying that my father would personally benefit from this, to which my father again tried to explain that his role as an accountant is not commission-based, and is salaried so there was no incentive for my father to be pro-windmill (although he certainly is and has become vocal since resigning).  After 8 months of enduring these attacks and seeing his company be mentioned in the press (often negatively by a vocal minority of town residents who can’t grasp simple logic), he resigned.

In our conversation, I learned some new things about my father and his approach on leadership and civic responsibility that I had never known.  I suppose I should have, as these values I find myself trying to live on a daily basis:

Leaders Empower Others

  • An effective leader is going to challenge others to find their passions, take chances, try new things, and make mistakes, all in order to learn, change, and grow.

Take Ownership of Your Mistakes

  • When you’re wrong, admit it.  Apologize to those who have been hurt and/or misled and ask for feedback on how to improve for the future.

Be Engaged and Informed

  • In a work environment, care about more than just your department or functional area.  Make connections with other departments and befriend those people.  It helps pave the road for when problems occur in your area and you need outside help.
  • In your community, attend local town board/council meetings.  Ask questions of your elected officials on controversial issues.  If you hold a position of power in local/area, remember the constituents that you serve and what they want (usually a job, a home, low taxes, good services in the town, and a sense of community) and advocate tirelessly for those needs.

Occupy a Voting Booth

  • Voting is the only true way that we have to voice our opinions.  Drafting letters, signing petitions, and other similar types of lobbying/protest are fine and good, but if you’re not stepping into the ballot box, you really have lost your standing as someone claiming to be want change.

Cultivate Your Successor(s)

  • In your work role, you need to realize you won’t be there forever.  Make sure you’re sharing in the delegation of your responsibilities in the event that you leave your position and/or company.  (Ok, disclaimer here, this is something I struggle with still in my role).
  • In the local community, try to find the “next generation” of leaders and encourage them to get involved by serving on community groups, local boards, and other volunteer service opportunities to establish themselves in the community and develop their own leadership skills.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

  • At work, always have a Plan B (and C & D).  Show your supervisors and direct reports that you’ve given thought to a situation and that there are always alternatives to ensure success.
  • In the community, know that the best of intentions don’t always equal success.  Sometimes voters and other board members don’t agree with you.  Engage in the dialogue, refrain from becoming emotional and judgmental and stick to logic and the facts of the case.  They’ll come around eventually.

These are pretty basic tenets for life, but this conversation was one of the few times where I’ve heard my father speak so passionately and openly with me.  I always have considered him a leader, based on the work he’s doing for our town and for his company, but seeing him actually articulate these values made me feel a very new connection with him.

Thanks for indulging in this post, as it’s a little more personal than some others have been!  🙂