Summer Reflection and Reinvigoration

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The demands placed on providers of business education are rapidly changing. The manager of the 21st Century must be more flexible, be able to make decisions faster and more efficiently, and have greater foresight into evolving threats and opportunities than ever before. Added to this, shifts across the economy are creating needs for new types of knowledge deployed in new locations, and all of our work is becoming increasingly virtual, mobile, cross-cultural, and cross-continental. 

The challenges and opportunities of defining the next generation of business education to meet these needs excite me. This month, as I took some time to connect with relatives and friends on our family’s annual summer trip to California, I also had time to continue reflecting on the significant chapter ahead of us at Ross taking a leading role in shaping the future of business education.  

I find stepping away once in a while hugely important for any leader. A different perspective refreshes, re-inspires, and yields new ideas. It also serves as a key opportunity to assess and improve your leadership approach. Throughout my career I’ve found certain tenets of leadership to be particularly important, and I continually strive to improve in the ways I carry them out. While simple in concept, they can be hard to implement, yet powerful in their results. 

  • Stay focused on the big picture. Every day, we as leaders face myriad situations and issues requiring decisions and actions. It’s easy to get pulled into tasks which do not advance your most strategic goals, or to find yourself moving so quickly through the volume of work that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Remaining focused on the most core objectives is a constant challenge, yet the ability to do so is key to being successful.
  • Support people in ways that advance both the organization and the individual. Organizations are made up of people. It sounds obvious, but too often leaders can lose sight of the needs of the individuals who comprise their organizations. I strive to ask myself throughout my work whether I am fully taking advantage of the opportunities to help individuals thrive in their work. When you can unite the strategic goals of the organization with the opportunities to help individuals find meaning and purpose in what they do, the results are significant.
  • Listen more than talk. As a leader, it’s important to communicate clearly about what you’re trying to achieve. But you must also be particularly attuned to the importance of listening. Good leaders continually ask questions, observe the world around them, seek out the perspectives of others, and are open to information they may not want to hear. I continually ask myself if I’m doing this, so that I can be better able to formulate new perspectives, eliminate blind spots, and ultimately make the biggest gains. 

Over the coming school year, I look forward to sharing with you many of the innovative developments underway at Ross. The opportunities ahead of us to take the lead in shaping the future of business education are significant. And during these summer months, I encourage all of us in the Ross community and the business world at large to take a moment to reflect on the goals we each have for our work and the qualities of leadership that will help us most effectively achieve them.

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Alison Davis-Blake