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UPPER MANAGEMENT

:
Lessons in Leading
A Mentor Program
UPPER MANAGEMENT: LES S ONS I N LEADI NG
A Mentor Program
Lisa Medina
Assoc. Director of Quality Assurance
Ashford University

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Table of Contents


Know Your Leadership 2 ............................................................................................................
Know Your Peers 4 ......................................................................................................................
What Do They Do All Day? 5 ....................................................................................................
Managing Managers 6 ..................................................................................................................
Knowledge and Resources 8 .......................................................................................................
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Know Your Leadership
Good leaders inspire us. They provide direction and purpose – they provide a vision for
the future. However, in a large organization it is not always easy to know these leaders
– instead, we must seek out the inspiration by learning about the people that are
piloting this adventure!
T
he senior leadership team at Ashford University is comprised of the following individuals:
Dr. Richard Pattenaude, President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Elizabeth Tice, Executive VP and Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Rebecca Wardlow, Provost
Dr. Joseph Hoey, Executive VP and Chief of Staff
Dr. Christina Leimer, VP of Planning and Effectiveness
Sean Gousha, Senior VP of Enrollment Management
Sheri Jones, Senior VP of Administrative Services
Thomas Mead, VP of Finance
Combined, these individuals bring more than 150 years experience in higher education. In addition,
their diverse backgrounds make for a dynamic, far-reaching leadership team. What about this group of
leaders interests or perhaps inspires you?
To find out – select an individual listed above and research
more about his or her background, areas of focus, etc.
Identify 2-3 leadership traits or facts about this leader
that intrigue or motivate you.





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Exercise:
Read the article ‘Leading in the 21
st
Century’ by Barton,
Grant and Horn.



In your opinion, what is the most important role of an executive leader in the 21
st
century? How
would you evaluate the executive leaders at Ashford University in this capacity?






Moya Greene claims that “The first criterion is: do you love it?” Why do you work at Ashford University?
Do you love it? How (if at all) do you feel this should be reflected in the senior leadership team?





Do you agree or disagree with Carlos Ghosn’s statement, “I don't think leadership shows unless it is
highlighted by some kind of crisis.” How might you relate this statement to the current circumstances and
leadership at Ashford University?







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Analysis and Opinions:
Know Your Peers
At every level of an organization, teamwork is critical – a leadership team is no exception. And, while
several approaches to leadership are universal, the people must make it work. And since people are unique,
bringing their own experiences, personalities and ideas to every interaction, to be a good team member, you
must know your teammates.
In the Registrar’s Office, the leadership team is comprised of the following individuals:
Kirk Morrison, VP University Registrar
Michael Foehrkolb, Associate Director of Articulation/Military Partnerships
Brooke Judkins, Associate Registrar
Michael Kieffer, Associate Director of Imaged Records Management
Lisa Medina, Associate Director of Quality Assurance
Katie Scheie, Director of Matriculation
Tracy Bormann, Director of Matriculation
Jennifer Bargenquast, Associate Director of Matriculation
Lai Zitoun, Associate Director of Matriculation
While only 5 individuals listed above report directly to Kirk, this is considered the core leadership team of
the Registrar’s Office. In other words, as an Associate Director, these are your teammates!
Based on your experience, what challenges might you
encounter in joining a new team? What challenges do
you anticipate in joining this team? What strategies
would you employ to overcome them?







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Exercise
What Do They Do All Day?
How to describe a day in the life of a Director? One word: meetings! And while these meetings may
often seem tedious and excessive, they are often necessary. However, the key to managing your time
wisely as an upper manager is to attend only the most effective and valuable meetings. Here are a few:

Policy and Implementation Council: Tuesdays 11am-12pm
By their own definition, the Policy and Implementation department “supports student-related
policies and procedures within Academic Catalogs, SOPs, Job Aids, etc., facilitates organizational
change processes via the P&I Council and ensures accuracy and integrity through Communications
Review.” As such, the purpose of the P&I Council meeting is to “facilitate organizational change”
by forming workgroups, informing stakeholders and ensuring appropriate update of policy.

Registrar and Academic Transfer Credit Committee: Mondays, 2pm-3pm
This meeting is comprised of representatives from Academics, Articulation, Matriculation and
Student Records. The purpose of the meeting is to examine questions or concerns related to
transfer credit.

Online Leadership: Fridays, 9am-10am
Each week, the Registrar (online) leadership team meets to share updates on on-going and new
initiatives, receive information from Kirk and generally spend time together as a group.

Admission Review Committee: Thursdays, 2pm-3pm
The Admission Review Committee is comprised of high-level stakeholders from multiple
departments, including Legal, Admission Compliance, Employee Relations, Student Affairs,
Registrar and Admissions. This group reviews sensitive issues relating to academic disqualification,
student aid fraud and employee dishonesty.

One-on-One (Reports): Weekly
Yes – as a Director, these are still a must. Of course, it is imperative that any supervisor keep these
set appointments, but they become increasingly more important the higher up the management
chain you go. This is the opportunity to remain aware of on-going initiatives, team performance and
general satisfaction/stress-level of your Managers.

Select one meeting among those described above that
you would like to learn more about, and request to
attend. Following the meeting, reflect on your
experience.




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Exercise
Managing Managers
It was once said that “the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” What is most
powerful about this statement is that it applies to any organizational leadership position, regardless of level or
industry. Therefore, managing or leading managers is not significantly different from leading non-managers.
There are a few applications of leadership principles, however, that are specific to leading managers that will
ensure you “produce more leaders!”

Leading with Vision
A vision creates purpose and inspires. It provides direction and invents strategy. There is no question that
vision is absolutely vital to the success of a team. Managers, perhaps even more than those who do not
manage others, must have a firm understanding of the vision; this is primarily because a manager needs to
be prepared to answer questions, solve problems and motivate others in a way that is connected to the
vision for the team. As a Director, it is on your shoulders to ensure that the managers are equipped to
lead with this vision!
Explain, explain, and explain
It is often stated that communication is key in a complex organization. This is true. However,
communication for communication’s sake is not necessarily helpful. When it comes to providing
information to those who must pass it along to others, certain details are critical. One important detail: the
explanation. As a Director, you often have the privilege of insight – your managers may not. So, you must
share! And, if you do not have the background, get it! Your managers (and their staff) will appreciate the
transparency and will likely be more inclined to go along with the message, however unpleasant.
Remain Connected
I have observed the expression of surprise of many leaders – at all levels – when they discover their team
is not performing as expected, or a process does not function as intended. Often, this is the result of
distance – distance from the vision for the department and distance from the day-to-day work. While a
Director is incredibly busy, and must be concerned with decisions that require only a high-level
understanding of operations, a good leader should not be so disconnected from the department that he
or she can no longer relate to the team, or is not aware of initiatives and change. Instead, remaining
connected reduces ‘surprise’ and also builds trust among team members, who feel that you care enough to
know their business!
Servant Leadership
Leadership comes in many forms – and each works differently in its environment. In an office
environment – where people sit in front of computers, talk on the phone, and, generally do administrative
work – I have found that servant leadership is an effective form. It reminds the staff members that people
come first, despite the sometimes impersonal nature of their work.


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Imagine you have been promoted to the Associate Director
role in the Registrar’s Office. Select 2-3 individuals and
imagine that they have become your management team.
Complete the following:
What is your vision? (This is the big question).





How do you ensure your managers lead with this vision?






What strategies will you employ to ensure that you remain connected to the happenings of the
department and the leadership efforts of your managers? (e.g. how will this remain a priority? Whom
might you consult for feedback and/or input?)








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Exercise
Given the strengths and weaknesses of these particular individuals, how will you support them without
“micro-managing” or inadvertently stunting their independence and/or growth as leaders?





Read the article, “Effective Leadership within a
Multinational Environment, paying close attention to the
“universal principles of effective leadership.”

Which of these principles do you feel is the most important? Why?











Knowledge and Resources

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Analysis and Opinions