This year’s EACUBO Annual Meeting offered us a valuable insight into the continued evolution of our field, perhaps more than any year prior. There was a greater — more tangible — presence of change as a strategic discipline. In our own work with business leaders, we’ve seen a continued progression toward the CBO-as-key-leader mentality, more than just a number cruncher and resource for the president. And this year at EACUBO, we’re seeing an even greater push supported by new data accounting for CBOs as strategic leaders across our institutions.
Every function requires a complex set of skills. It’s rare to find a career in which a singular expertise is a clear marker for success. But in the CBO role, a discussion of meta-competencies is particularly timely. Today’s CBO is being asked to do more, with more groups, and greater responsibilities than ever before. As Cindy Matson reported in her talk, presidents are demanding more of their CBOs as representatives of the institution, not just representatives of the budget. Today’s CBO is the advocate of the business model.
This transition across our CUBO regions is palpable. Professional development initiatives are framed in such a way that it’s no longer acceptable for CBOs to be simply managers of the institution’s resources. That’s a given. If we want to move the needle on deep change (riffing on the powerful work of Robert Quinn), we have to be able to count on our CBOs and leverage the unique understanding they have for our institutions both as educators and advocates for our place in higher ed.
I had the opportunity to wrap up my series of talks around the regions on “Communicating Strategically to Make an Impact,” with the wonderfully talented CBO, Nicole Trufant from University of New England. There is an increasing resonance with this idea of communication as influence among business officers that have attended these sessions. Perhaps the most challenging point for our audience is this: People don’t care what you think. We love to imagine that people tune in to our messages because they believe that our well-educated insights are priceless. But when we stop and reflect, we see that people only care if we can find a way to tune our message to focus on what they think, what they care about.
As it turns out, that’s the difference between doing what’s expected of us, and inspiring others to action. Between reporting the numbers, and inspiring others to embrace change in their departments as a result.
We had the distinct pleasure of co-hosting the EACUBO Cheers Reception on Monday evening, and set up our recording studio for a few episodes of our show, Navigating Change, interviewing leaders for a live EACUBO audience. Our first episode from that event is live today, a conversation with EACUBO vice chair, Lynne Schaefer, and NACUBO vice president for professional development, Marta Perez Drake. You can listen on the website or find the show in iTunes now.