Most people who know me well would describe me as passionate, innovative, creative, energetic, and deeply committed to making the world a better place. I believe in people, and in the transformative power of hope. As Barack Obama so famously said in response to the charge that he was promising “false hope”:
“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.”
These are the same values I espouse and seek to live out in my daily practices as a leader: vision, conviction, empathy, hard work, humor, and faith. Indeed, I had the opportunity to retake the Gallup/Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 recently as part of the Wisconsin Leadership Development Institute (WLDI), and the results were not only very consistent–they reflect my core values.
According to Gallup, my top five strengths are:
- Strategic: (“You automatically pinpoint trends, notice problems, or identify opportunities many people overlook. Problems and possible solutions become apparent to you. Once you outline action steps, you quickly execute them one by one.”)
- Futuristic: (“Your vision opens people’s minds to new and wondrous possibilities. You challenge them to consider ideas they might not have thought of on their own.”)
- Positivity: (“You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation. Somehow you can’t quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one’s sense of humor.”)
- Learner: (“You are apt to be the one to whom others look for ideas about assignments to give each individual. You are likely to understand what is and is not a reasonable expectation to place on someone.”)
- Achiever: (“You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group.”)
Higher education can be a cynical place, and over the course of my career and my life, I have seen my share of conflict. But despite this (or perhaps because of it), I believe in the power of finding “win-win-win” solutions. Indeed, the accomplishments I’m most proud have been those that have come through difficult negotiation, where I’ve been able to bring together diverse groups of stakeholders–often with competing interests and goals–to articulate and then pursue a shared vision.