In between the sangria, touring and WiBE dinners in Barcelona, Spain I had the pleasure to sit and chat with over 30 deans.


And it got me thinking about the question:


What makes a super successful, trailblazing, and beloved Dean?


In my experience with new deans, I’ve found that skills that made them great Associate Deans can seriously hinder their success in the top leadership position.


This is especially true for those who excel at day-to-day tasks but struggle to transition to a visionary leadership role.


I’ve watched many new deans dive into their roles in the first year, trying to solve every problem and achieve perfection. This approach leads to burnout and micromanagement. (No judgement, I’ve been there!)


While there’s plenty of literature on “entrepreneurial mindsets,” there’s a lack of resources on what I am calling the “Dean-ing Mindset.”


What are the essential ingredients?


As a Dean, your role is to inspire and motivate. Now you must focus on storytelling, fostering a positive culture, and delegating tasks efficiently. Prioritize what yields results and ignore detractors who resist change.


Developing this mindset takes practice. And it is not easy. And yes, some people can make it look easy, but I assure you, it’s not. The bigger problem I see is, who is teaching this?! (Perhaps we should organize an intensive session in Las Vegas on this topic?)


For now, I encourage you to pause, reassess, and refrain from getting caught up in the minutiae. Are you honing your vision for the future? Are you fostering a positive, cohesive culture within your institution? Are you relinquishing unnecessary tasks and focusing on what truly matters?


And are you personally embracing the speed of AI and building efficiency everywhere possible?


If not, I invite you to join our upcoming Dean’s Roundtable tomorrow, March 13 on “Cultivating Resilient & Agile Business School Change Agents.” Change is hard, but it can be done.


And why do it alone, when we can do it together?


—Lisa Leander, Founder & CEO


p.s. Not a Dean? Don’t worry, neither am I, but we can still embrace the mindset. Join us for our workshop on Mastering Your Media Presence next week on Tuesday, March 19. Because we all need to be more visible in sharing our expertise! RSVP here

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