As advancement leaders step into 2019 and prepare to meet campaign goals, deliver projects, motivate their teams, and stay healthy and excited in their roles, Currents asked them to reflect on what they wanted to change or improve on as managers. Despite their deep experience, these professionals all talked about ways they could grow on both personal and team levels. Nearly everyone referenced a role model or book that taught them important lessons or offered advice for other leaders. As you consider your own 2019 goals, take some inspiration from these New Year's management resolutions.
Christen Aragoni is a CASE content creator.
President and CEO,
Purdue Alumni Association, Indiana
Reflections: The hardest thing in management is handling the dynamics associated with people, says Amos, who despite having just completed his second year at Purdue, still feels new in his role. One of the keys to leading a team, he says, is understanding the culture you inherited and then developing a clear vision to create the culture needed to move the organization forward. "Our outwardly facing vision is: ‘All together. All thriving. All Purdue!'" Amos says. "This in turn drives our internal way of working—of being kind, bold, dynamic, and robust, as well as valuable and inspirational to the people we serve."
Advice: In managing your team, divide up members' strengths and support individual weaknesses. Find the best mix of abilities to produce the best outputs. As you're figuring out team dynamics and developing projects, keep bringing people together to try again when a process doesn't work. "It can make the road bumpy if you don't stay on it," Amos says. "Exposure, repetition, and patience are crucial."
Assistant Vice President for Development,
University of the Pacific, California
Reflections: Earlier this year Nagai started a new job at a new institution and began setting a direction and goals for herself and her team of development officers. "I spent the weeks leading up to the job with nervous energy, and that thought creeped into my mind: ‘What if I'm not good enough? What if I'm in over my head?'" she says. "I dare to say that I'm not the only one who's ever had these types of doubts."
Advice: No matter where you are in your career or what title you hold, self-reflection on where you've been and where you want to go can be of great value.
Inspirational quote (which Nagai will tape to her computer for 2019): "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change."—Brené Brown, professor and author
Recommended viewing: "The Power of Vulnerability" (TEDxHouston), Brené Brown
Vice President, University Advancement,
The University of North Carolina System
Reflections: While his immediate team has eight members, Minor works with vice chancellors and their staffs at all 17 UNC campuses and reports to the system president, as well as the UNC Board of Governors. In managing, Minor strives for servant leadership. "We're all in these leadership positions for a limited time," he says. "While we are here, we should use our influence to help others in their roles—that's part of being a servant leader and paying it forward."
Advice: "You have gifts, and that's why you have the position you do," Minor says. "Maximize your influence to use your gifts to make someone's life better."
Recommended reading: The Servant Leader (2001), James Autry
Director of Development,
The Alice Smith School, Malaysia
Reflections: Managing a diverse, multicultural, multi-generational, and dynamic workforce, Wan says, is an ongoing leadership challenge. At Alice Smith, she says, "we believe through generosity of time and care and attention to every individual, we find a way to bring out the best in all people and create an enduring sense of belonging to something very special."
Inspirational quote: "Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." —Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
Recommended reading: Fundraising Management: Analysis, Planning, and Practice (2004) by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay. "It provides good guides, useful templates, and methodology on how to manage fundraising strategically," Wan says.
Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer,
The University of Tennessee System
Reflections: The art and science of managing involves prescribed methods and theories as well as skills and talents leaders develop with practice, Johnson says, and each leader adds value and brings creativity to a role. Once solely a marketing and communications professional, Johnson says her life has become increasingly complex with her executive oversight of the Tennessee system. "I need to stop and think about where I'm going," Johnson says. "In general, I need to focus on the fundamentals and simplicity and identify goals by going back to our core values."
Advice: "We can all identify with being busy in our lives and then having jobs that are overwhelming," Johnson says. "We have to wrap our arms around what we have to do and make peace with the fact that we have chosen to do this."
Inspirational quote: "Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."—Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Recommended reading: How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing (2014) by Lee G. Bolman
Strategic Advancement Solutions Group, Colorado
Reflections: Advancement leaders must take on the increasingly vital challenge of promoting and advocating diversity in the profession, says Hernandez, who adds that mentors have played an important role in his development as a leader. "Having a mentor can be more than a professional relationship," he says. "One of my mentors, [CASE Vice President of Education] Rob Henry has become a dear friend."
Advice: Be a part of CASE by seeking out opportunities beyond conferences. This will help you form relationships with other advancement professionals. "You just never know who you might work with or for one day," he says.
Inspirational quote: "Our ability to handle life's challenges is a measure of our strength of character."—Les Brown, author and motivational speaker
Recommended viewing: Naval Admiral William McRaven's 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin.
Executive Director, Advancement and Alumni Relations Office
De La Salle University, Philippines
Reflections: Advancement practitioners constantly struggle to find effective means to engage our community and promote the spirit of giving, he says. Contextualizing and adapting concepts, practices, and lessons learned at CASE conferences, he points out, can help him and his team enhance their work. During a recent university strategic planning session, Reyes was struck by the question: "As leaders and administrators, if an outsider came to do your work, what would he or she likely first address or change?" Considering how he would answer this prompted him to formulate his 2019 leadership resolution.