This much said, here is a partial list of comments that Bill has gathered from other academic leaders, in response to the question, “What causes you the most stress?”:
- Leaders have “competing constituencies” that complicate the decision-making dynamic (i.e., 2 different depts. In the same college vying for the same stuff).
- Nothing can move forward productively without trust. But how does a leader develop and maintain trust with broad and diverse constituencies? One perspective: 20% will always approve of what you do, and 20% will always oppose it–focus on the 60% in the middle who need to be persuaded whether or not to trust you.
- Leaders must also keep in view the shared values/priorities of different “opponents,” and try not to encourage opponent groups to band together. Every major decision involves juggling a meat cleaver, a banana, and a bowling ball.
- The lieutenants (such as Associate Deans) are often charged with “fixing” everything.
- Perhaps the greatest challenge is leading alone, which is all too often the case.
- It’s not often clear which or how much information the leader should share, and with whom.