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