I’ve been in my position of full professor at my university in Ecuador for quite a while now (7 years and counting), and I know that my only next steps up on the ladder would involve admin roles.
While I am not sure if I ever want to take on an administrative position, I have been wondering which additional skills I would need to learn. At this moment, I don’t feel inclined to take on an admin role, and especially not one that requires a lot of traveling or evening commitments – for the next years, while my daughter is young, I want to spend as much time with her as possible.
Nevertheless, I have started to take some courses and explore additional skills that would align with a future admin term.
I’ve asked ChatGPT which skills I should focus on and where I can learn these, and the answer was as follows:
- Understanding University Governance: Knowing the ins and outs of how your university operates is crucial. This includes understanding the decision-making process, budgeting, and policy formulation.Start with workshops offered by your institution or professional academic organizations. Online courses in higher education management can also be beneficial.
- Leadership: As an administrator, you’ll lead teams, shape visions, and inspire action. Cultivating a leadership style that is both effective and authentic is key. Consider leadership development programs specifically designed for academics. Many universities offer in-house training, and external executive education programs are also valuable.
- Strategic Planning: You’ll need to develop long-term plans that align with the university’s mission and goals. This involves setting clear objectives, assessing resources, and predicting challenges. Look for seminars or workshops focusing on strategic management in higher education. Online courses on strategic planning and management can also provide useful insights.
- Financial Acumen: Overseeing budgets and understanding financial reports are part of the game. Brush up on financial management to make informed decisions. Enroll in finance courses tailored for non-financial managers. Many universities and online platforms offer relevant courses in budgeting and financial decision-making.
- Conflict Resolution: In administrative roles, you’ll face conflicts. Being adept at navigating disagreements and finding mutually beneficial solutions is vital. Participate in conflict resolution or negotiation workshops. These are often available through university HR departments or external professional development providers.
- Communication Skills: Whether it’s speaking at university events or writing policy documents, clear and persuasive communication is a must. Attend workshops on effective communication and public speaking. Joining academic writing retreats can also sharpen your written communication skills.
- Team Building and Management: You’ll manage diverse teams. Knowing how to motivate, support, and coordinate team members is essential. Seek courses in human resources management, particularly those focused on managing diverse teams in academic settings.
- Adaptability: The higher education landscape is constantly evolving. Being adaptable to changes and new challenges is crucial. Webinars and workshops on change management can be particularly useful. Keep an eye out for opportunities offered by professional academic associations.
- Networking: Building relationships within and outside the university can open doors and create opportunities for collaboration. Professional development events, academic conferences, and workshops on building professional relationships can be great venues for honing this skill.
- Legal and Regulatory Issues: Understanding the legal framework governing higher education will help you navigate complexities. Enroll in courses or seminars on higher education law and policy. These are often offered by law schools or through academic professional organizations.
- Research and Analytical Skills: You’ll need to analyze data and research trends to make evidence-based decisions. Advanced courses in statistics, data analysis, or research methods can be beneficial, especially those tailored for academic administrators.
- Technology Savvy: Familiarity with the latest educational technologies and administrative software can enhance efficiency. Explore workshops and training sessions on educational technology and university administration software.
- Fundraising and Grant Writing: These skills can bring in much-needed funds for your department or university. Look for specialized workshops and courses in fundraising, grant writing, and financial development for higher education.
- Crisis Management: Handling emergencies with composure and strategic thinking is a valuable skill. Attend crisis management training programs. These can often be found through university safety departments or external organizations.
- Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and managing your emotions, and empathizing with others, will help in building strong professional relationships. Workshops on emotional intelligence and leadership are increasingly common and valuable for administrative roles.
Looking at this list, I can see that a number of skills could be useful to learn by all means – even if I never end up applying for an admin term in my institution.
Have you worked on acquiring skills that would serve you in an admin position?