In his blog Intentional Leadership Michael Hyatt compares project management to herding cats and points to the following similarities:
- Cats are solitary animals.
- Cats are seemingly aloof.
- Cats are easily distracted.
These same similarities or attributes also easily be shared with the academy. I can easily say this about faculty because I am one and I know that I and many of my colleagues are solitary not because we don’t like people or we don’t like collaboration but because our work often forces us to focus intensely in a very narrow area. Getting faculty to collaborate is important and the best way to do so is to insure that the collaborative effort is worth everyone’s time.
The laser focus most faculty have on their work can also make them seem aloof. Once again, I must insist that it is not that faculty are aloof or uncaring. They are some of the busiest people you will ever encounter so just need the right circumstances to engage. But this is the case for all people–we are only willing to engage in a project or endeavor if it has meaning and relevance. A leader must ensure that the work that they are asking of faculty has significance and respects their time and efforts.
Hyatt’s final point about distraction is common to all people. With all our amazing mobile conveniences comes the potential for endless distractions. Staying on task and keeping a sense of urgency is something that must be modeled. A sense of urgency is caught is not taught, so it is crucial for a leader to walk the walk.