By Ethan Penland, Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Becoming a leader is often a very exciting time! Then, after the excitement wears off, the reality of being a leader settles in, and for many, the anxiety grows.
You’re now the person with more responsibilities such as making difficult decisions, professional development, and oversight of higher-level strategic planning while leading day-to-day operations.
I recently wrote an article on the impactful traits of enrollment leaders in today’s world of higher education. Although those qualities I discussed should be a goal to include in your leadership as you progress in your mid-level position, I want to provide you with transition tips and perspectives to help you begin your journey to becoming the best leader you can be. These tips are gathered from my own experiences, research, and observations with other mid-level leaders.
- Become a data nerd. If there’s one thing I recognized early on, it was the importance of valuing data. I remember a world of leadership where knowing data was helpful. In 2022, you rarely can make a decision without a data-supported approach. With every new idea or strategy, look to data for advice.
- Learn your CRM. Like data, CRM knowledge was once a commodity. Now, it’s a necessity. The reason why you want to learn how your CRM works is because a CRM is the backbone of how many admissions offices operate, but very few people in the office understand how to leverage it. When you learn how to maximize your CRM you become a major resource for your team. The sooner you become familiar with the intricacies of it, the more you can help advance your team’s initiatives and strategies.
- Network and find a mentor. What I see is most common for successful mid-level leaders is they begin utilizing their network, early and often, in order to gain perspectives, share ideas and identify trusted sources that they can use as “mentors” for their growth in their new role. My recommendation is to find someone who disagrees with you, or at the very least does not always agree with you on your approach and perspectives to help give you a different viewpoint on the challenges and obstacles you may face.
- Change brings challenges. Whether you are being elevated from within or joining a new team at a new institution, what you can expect is some people will struggle with change. How are you going to navigate that? We are humans, after all, and no matter how much you want people to go along with change, it’s not always easy. So, instead of jumping to the conclusion that your team is unwilling to change or adapt to the new processes, validate their concerns and empathize with them. Work to give them the opportunity to be expressive of their concerns for change. What they share with you will give you the opportunity to know how to approach your team when future changes occur, as well as how to change their perspective of change from being negative to an opportunity.
- Remember how you got here. It’s human nature to want to come in, confidently, and feel that your new position gives you more validity to your opinions, ideas, and perspectives. Sure, in some cases, you have added validity, but that does not mean those below you are less valid. I have witnessed how a promotion can quickly go to a person’s head, and their team’s input quickly becomes irrelevant to them. The fact remains that as you transition upward, you empower downward. Someone previously gave you chances to grow and succeed. They gave way to your opinions, ideas, and perspectives because they saw potential. New leaders should remember those moments and be intentional about passing them forward.
As you make your transition into leadership, I hope my words resonate with you. I am truly confident that as you take your next step into leadership, if you take these tips and apply them, you will find plenty of success in your new role.
If you found this article helpful, pass it along to someone who would benefit from reading it. If you are hiring a mid-level leader, just started out as a mid-level leader, working to be a better mid-level leader, or becoming one is your next step in your career, and you want to have a discussion, please connect with me! You can email me at email@example.com or DM me on Twitter!