Here are some highlights from a fantastic event held at experience at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Our charge together at ESU was to work together not to address revenue challenges, or enrollment issues, or staffing, or tenure or any of the litany of challenges facing our institutions today. Our charge was to come together and challenge the perception of what it means to work together as a team in the face of long-held belief in the way we’ve always done things.
This, too, is nothing new to so many institutions. We all face the daunting chore of breaking up cemented norms. Here are three areas where ESU is different in my view.
- Leadership: Vice President Administration & Finance Ken Long has built a team that is positioned to face new challenges. The positive energy is palpable. More importantly, Long’s demonstrated commitment to growth manifests in his behavior to the team, his willingness to receive sometimes difficult criticism, and his ability to adapt to behavior cues that define how he works with others in his capacity as leader.
- Risk: Bruce Tuckman coined the model of group development under the moniker “Forming — Storming — Norming — Performing” back in the mid 1960s. The longevitiy of the model always strikes me when I see it so profoundly demonstrated in teams. At ESU, the team has formed and is clearly on the path to face new challenges. The result of strong leadership and momentum is a team that is developing its own identity. In each exercise I threw into the mix, ESU stepped up with energy and enthusiasm ready to take on the most difficult areas of operation with gusto.
- Faith: What was clear to me by the end of our time together was that this is a team that is developing a strong sense of faith. Their growing team identity is one that is steeped in confidence in themselves as individual contributors and confidence in their peers to face the difficult road ahead and deliver results together.
Long and his team are putting into action a plan to change their institutional approach to the challenges we face across our industry. But what’s most noble to me in their effort is their willingness to test their own belief in success, to ask the question, “is good enough, really good enough?” And to recognize the incredible power in facing the future as a strong team, together.