Reflections on NACUBO's 2014 Managerial Analysis and Decision Support Program

I’m just back from a few great days in Charlotte for the NACUBO 2014 Managerial Analysis and Decision Support program. It was a powerful session with strong participation from insightful leaders across the board. I want to reflect with you all my key message and some of my own insights now that you’re back to work.

Your primary job as a communicator is to educate, engage, and inspire your audience to action.

If there is any one thing I’d like you to come away from our time together at the NACUBO MADS conference, that’s it, and here’s why.

As financial officers, we have a natural affinity for the weeds. We live in data and analysis, and thrive at our most authentic place when we’re communicating with others who live in that space with us. But most of our institutional world does not live in our data. To reach them, we have to change the way we see ourselves. We have to recognize that cultivating an environment of creativity means telling the story of our data in a way that inspires others to act.

In that light, here are three key points from our time together which serve as a reminder of our purpose at the leadership table.

  1. Keep Focused on the Big Picture. It’s easy to follow the data down the rabbit hole. In most cases, your audience will not follow you.
  2. Make a Case you can Stand For. If you want to inspire others to act, obviously you have to paint a picture that is worth acting on. That’s easier said than done. The real question to ask yourself is, “when I stand up and deliver my pitch, is it something that I am personally willing to advocate for?” If you believe in your story, your audience will feel it, and they’ll be more likely to follow you. If you don’t, you can bet they’ll pick up on that, too.
  3. You are the Guide for your Audience. Before you take your first step on stage, before you design your presentation materials, ask yourself this question: “What are the key outcomes I need to see from my audience as a result of my story?” If you have these outcomes in mind as you design your talk, you’re in a better position to guide your audience in their role in this presentation. Make sure you’re actively reminding them that they play a part in this presentation dance with you!

I love connecting with rubber-meets-the-road finance leaders, it’s a very comfortable space for me — home turf, as it were. But just as it’s comfortable space for all of us personally, it’s important to be aware when our own work does not translate clearly and effectively to others. As leaders, the responsibility to educate, engage, and inspire others to act is all ours.

Thank you for your time and attention in Charlotte. I look forward to connecting with you all, and hearing your stories at future events!

— Howard 


Photo: James Willamore (Flickr)

Wrapping up NACUBO 2014 — Reflections, Observations & Inspirations around Communicating Strategically

This has been a fantastic week. 

We started off with the New Business Officer's forum, helping those new to the role to get acquainted with the skills they'll need to cultivate to succeed. From there, I co-facilitated a conversation on communication with the talented Kelly Fox and Greg Lovins. Somewhere in between, we were joined by the truly incomparable Alison Levine, legendary technologist Bill Gates, and too many terrific concurrent sessions to mention. 

What strikes me yet again is the degree to which NACUBO has internalized the issues and struggles facing business officers every day, and reflects those struggles with spot-on opportunities for continued learning and engagement. This year, whether we're talking about debt or financial aid or the relative "brokenness" of our business models, one thing is clear: communication is a key skill.

We had a wonderful connection with a business officer that supports the point. Chatting at a reception about the importance of communication, this individual said, "what we do is numbers. I can do the touchy-feely stuff for about 30 minutes ... then I need data." 

True, for those of us more accustomed to working with numbers, sitting through sessions on the art and importance of communication can certainly feel "touchy-feely." But think of it this way: if you're struggling with sitting through sessions at a conference around this topic for more than 30 minutes, how does that translate to your leadership team or board room, in which you're charged with presenting beyond the numbers to non-numbers people in a way that highlights your strategy to lead important initiatives? 

Not convinced? Just take a look at NACUBO's last National Profile Report. As you review it, notice how many key profile areas might involve become a better, more articulate, more convincing communicator? Spoiler: most of them.

I've been speaking around the country on this topic for several years now so you can imagine how gratifying it is personally to see NACUBO continue to take up the mantle. Communicating strategically is a key leadership skill; how many great leaders do you know who can't communicate clearly enough to rally support for their initiatives? Remember, great managers have subordinates. Great leaders have followers. It's our job not just to manage change in our institutions, but to inspire it. 

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful week — and here's to the NACUBO Annual Meeting 2015!

— Howard

Team Teibel is in Seattle for NACUBO 2014!

We’re here, joining the incredibly talented field of business officers, administrators, and educators for the NACUBO 2014 Annual Meeting. Seattle is a beautiful city and the perfect backdrop to this year’s conference. 

You’ll be able to find the Teibel team throughout events this year and I encourage you to reach out and connect. From the NACUBO Speaker’s Corner to the New Business Officer’s workshop, to concurrent sessions, we’ll be engaging in the most important topics facing business officers right now, and doing our part to have a little fun while we’re together!

We’ve put together a resource page for those following Teibel events at the conference. In addition, we’ve recorded two special episodes of my podcast, Navigating Change, focused on NACUBO:

It’s going to be a great event, folks, one that continues to define the landscape of best practices in our field. It’s an honor to work with you, and we can’t wait to work with you all this week.

— Howard