From the President: It's all about the hand-offs

From the President: It's all about the hand-offsMichael Henthorne2004-03-018Boardroomfalse

Editor's Note: While on March 1, the 2004–05 ACUI Board of Trustees and ACUI President Daniel Maxwell took office, the March Bulletin is the last edition in a full year of recognition for the 2003–04 Board of Trustees and ACUI President Michael Henthorne. The May Bulletin will be the first edition to feature the new board and president.

We all wear many hats in this profession, and we have each developed a style of leading that works for us. In my leadership roles, I use metaphors a great deal as a means of conveying messages. I find that metaphors help to paint a common picture in the minds of the audience that is often difficult through issue-specific language alone. Often when I share a metaphor, it creates a connection to other people's thinking and they will modify the metaphor to express their perspective, or they will offer yet another metaphor that better illustrates what they are thinking. The result is often an astonishingly rapid connection within the conversation.

One of my favorite organizational metaphors comes from the sport that our middle son, Ryan, most enjoyed, which is track and field. Ryan was a fast young man, who earned a spot on his high school's relay team as a freshman. During the years that he ran track, the young men who ran the 1,600-meter relay with him grew to be a tight group. At a certain point in their training each season, the relay team members were at their peak physical condition for their age. After that point, it all came down to the hand-offs. Races were most often won or lost based on the efficiency and lack of any disaster during the hand-off of the baton. Both the person receiving the baton and the person relaying the baton had to be equally committed to making the hand-off work. The 1,600-meter relay team practiced their hand-offs endlessly.

This is my official hand-off to our new ACUI president, Dan Maxwell. I am pleased to say that Dan and I are equally committed to making this hand-off as efficient as possible, and we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition. I am also confident that most every ACUI volunteer leader has the same concern and focus when it comes time for them to vacate a position. The commitment we have to ACUI must also be a commitment to support, encourage, and train those who follow us. Each year, the ACUI Board of Trustees improves on their training regimen at its preconference meeting. As we work with each board, we more fully realize what must be added to the training and orientation schedule, so the members are well prepared for the decisions that lie ahead.

Constantly improved training is one of the fundamental ingredients in improving the organizations of which we are a part. Organizations like ACUI depend on an ever-changing contingent of volunteers, similar to the volunteer positions within college unions. The greatest point of leverage that exists for improving volunteer-dependent organizations is the level of support, training, and orientation given to a new group of volunteers. The greater the level of training, the higher on the performance ladder each group begins

As I look back on this past year, I am incredibly proud of the Board of Trustees for its work in establishing and training the new ACUI Foundation Board of Directors, updating and editing a large volume of ACUI policies, establishing the first-ever ACUI Board of Trustees evaluation instrument, creating the ACUI Recreation Redesign Team, and managing a difficult set of decisions regarding ACUI's 2004 budget. I have valued the working relationships and open communication that has been a hallmark of this particular board.

As for looking forward, there are many bright spots in ACUI's future. First, we retain an excellent executive director in Marsha Herman-Betzen, who is committed to making ACUI the best professional home possible for our membership. We also have strength in our Central Office staff, which has displayed wonderfully creative capabilities. The new volunteers, who recently have joined the ACUI Leadership Team, have shared some insightful ideas about the positions they now hold and the value that can come from their efforts. I trust that there are brighter days down the road for higher education, even though it is often difficult to keep that hope alive amid extremely difficult financial conditions and what appear to be insurmountable challenges.

I continue to believe that this is and will be the association of choice for a great many professionals because ACUI has the resources, educational offerings, and professional relationships that make a difference in the lives of its members. I will forever be grateful to the members of ACUI for the opportunity to serve as your president.

Updated Nov. 9, 2012