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Mid-Year Leadership Check-In: Using Winter Break to Review, Refresh, and Reflect

By Monique Frost

Consultant, The Career Leadership Collective

You've nearly made it through Fall, and January is closing in fast! Perhaps you're even facing a tiny break from the daily onslaught of the tasks that are part of managing a career center team, courses, student peers, or strategic priorities within your role. We encourage you to take this time for a mid-year leadership check-in, and below we offer a couple of doable steps to help you leverage this time to set you and your team up for success in 2024. 

1.Review and refresh your strategic plan. Dig into your goals, tactics, and metrics and get a snapshot of where you are in the strategic plan timeline. This is an excellent time of year to “zoom out” to a bird’s eye view of your goals and determine what needs to change. Are there deliverables that no longer make sense? Are there new priorities or new target dates? Just because your original plan called to launch an initiative in the Spring doesn't mean that you can’t pivot, adjust, or adapt that plan. Are there insights, new partnerships, or new priorities from this Fall that should lead to adjusting or replacing the originally planned initiative?

NOTE: If you saw this sentence and thought, “What strategic plan?” we'd like to make a case for creating one. A career center-wide strategic plan is necessary for the contemporary ROI-focused atmosphere of higher education. As a consultant and trainer, I consistently interact with professionals new to career development. I have witnessed how quickly new staffs’ enthusiasm can dissipate when a supervisor neglects to clearly and consistently communicate the strategic plan for the team, office, and or division. Educating new professionals on a leader's strategic plan yields a team-oriented, focused vision.

According to the Harvard Business School Online materials (2020), How to Formulate a Successful Business Strategy, a strategic plan is used to prioritize efforts, allocate resources, align shareholders and employees on the organization's goals, and ensure data and sound reasoning back those goals. The strategic plan should touch every supervisee and be an actionable way to reach your team goals. Values, principles, and goals should drive the strategy. The strategic plan should be reviewed and revisited (by the supervisor and staff) every 6 months to effectively ingratiate the plan's value to the team and the organization's mission. 


2. Reflect on your supervisory style. It can be challenging to consistently have awareness of oneself while supervising and directing team members or seeking to influence campus constituents. Even the most highly aware leaders have blind spots. Often, such nuances require someone else to assist in creating awareness. According to the Forbes article, Four Ways To Identify and Improve Blind Spots and Weakness (2019), listening to a trusted advisor is critical because the presence of trust will allow leaders to eliminate the notion of bias in the feedback. A few effective and intentional questions you might want to ask your trusted individuals include the following:

  • How do I handle mistakes?

  • What is my biggest leadership flaw?

  • How do I treat my team?

  • What change could I make to improve my leadership effectiveness?

At the Collective, one of our top recommendations to overcome leadership blindspots is to ensure you have “lifelines.” Lifelines are reliable individuals who gracefully tell you truths about yourself without bias. Regularly checking in with your lifelines for conversations about your challenges, successes, and professional pathways can lead to more self-awareness and more profound and more diverse perspectives on your leadership. 

3. Promote and plan for professional development. Prioritizing professional development for you and your team is essential. Start planning now for the time and financial commitment you can make to develop your team in 2024. That being said, not all professional development requires deep pockets! At one institution we worked with, a Director helped her team build a skill central to their personal and professional development goals, ranging from data storytelling to learning experience design. This was accomplished by designing specific outreach initiatives for their advising communities that helped them reach part of their professional goals.

Just as we recommend encouraging your team members to seek out their own opportunities for leadership development, like acquiring new skills or participating in a cohort-based program like Kickstart or Aspire, we also encourage you, as a leader, to model this commitment to developing and honing new skills. 

Being a leader is a lot of responsibility, and at the Collective, we want to partner with you to lighten the load! We hope your holiday break is refreshing and you also take time for self-care.

Monique Frost brings over a decade of professional experience in Higher Education, including roles in Career Services, Residence Life, Student Orientation, and Student Counseling.

Monique values learning, growth, and development and seeks partnerships to assist constituents in achieving excellence.

Her focus is on contributing to the success and growth of institutions, teams, and individuals.


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