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Higher Ed Jobs: Getting Hired as a Manager When You’ve Never Managed

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Higher Ed Jobs: Getting Hired as a Manager When You’ve Never Managed

Read Getting Hired as a Manager When You’ve Never Managed by Justin Zackal, from Higher Ed Jobs, February 3, 2021.

In my 20 years working in higher education, I worked in several positions that fit one of the following scenarios:

  • I was the single employee in the department.
  • Due to union rules, I couldn’t supervise someone within my own union.
  • I worked in a small department with little hierarchy despite titles.
  • I supervised dozens of student workers, but no graduate students or professional staff.

Often I would ask friends and colleagues how I could get hired as a mid-level manager when I had never managed. Thankfully, HigherEdJobs.com writer Justin Zackal gives some ideas for people who are looking to advance in higher education.

Based on the research of Derrick Lindstrom, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Cultures at Minneapolis College, who studied community college faculty becoming deans, and Sherri Watson, director of success coaching and the Center for Major Exploration at Old Dominion University, who analyzed student affairs professionals becoming managers, the following areas should be considered by staff looking to advance their careers:

  1. First, ask yourself why is leadership right for you? This was a critical question to ask, to discover what role and work would be satisfying. For instance, if you’re a “maker” you may find it dissatisfying to be removed from doing the work. Or you may want to be the middle manager who wants to translate the direction of the senior leaders to staff reporting to you.
  2. Next, focus on how to become a manager. “If you’re discouraged by your lack of managerial experience, know that you’re not alone: many candidates for mid-level manager jobs have this same gap,” says Zackal. “Additionally, the higher education work environment provides opportunities to fill that gap by sharpening skills and taking on related roles.” Consider leading committees both within your campus and within professional organizations. Lead teams of peers for significant school or college committees, and document how you trained or mentored new members and staff assigned to you.
  3. Finally, have a vision. “Problem-solving and compromise as a manager don’t mean you will become a glorified switchboard operator for your team,” explains Zackal. “You need a vision for what success looks like for your department and institution — and explain that vision to a hiring committee.”

I have some reflection work to do about previous positions I have held that have prepared me for managerial work. I encourage you to do the same.

Continue reading Getting Hired as a Manager When You’ve Never Managed by Justin Zackal, from Higher Ed Jobs, February 3, 2021.


Coaching Real Leaders Podcast: The Problem with Always Being the Problem Solver

Listen to The Problem with Always Being the Problem Solver, by The Coaching Real Leaders Podcast, Harvard Business Review, March 1, 2021.

In nearly all of my jobs I found myself in the same conundrum: how did I end up being the problem-solver when my peers did not step up? What I discovered is that, much like Lady Gaga, I also lived for the applause. I wanted to be known as the fixer. But the extra work came at a price – and the toll it took on me was sometimes too heavy to carry.

Host Muriel Wilkins coaches a leader on ways to identify his own problem-solving tendencies and ways to combat them.

The Problem with Always Being the Problem Solver Coaching Real Leaders

He’s spent much of his career successfully being a problem solver. Now, as he works his way up, he’s realizing that always trying to fix everything won’t let him focus on leading – or help his team succeed. How can he adapt his approach to lead more effectively?

One of the takeaways I learned from this was learning when to coach others and when to step away. While I know that failure is a great learning tool, in the high-stakes world I created for myself, letting others fail felt like abandoning them. What I have since learned is that providing encouragement and strategic input is often better than taking over. Even if it fails, it opens up opportunities for the entire time to consider.

Continue listening to The Problem with Always Being the Problem Solver, by The Coaching Real Leaders Podcast, Harvard Business Review, March 1, 2021.


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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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