Leadership in AbundanceFunctional Leadership at Unity College
Unity College leaders need access to information and personnel need access to decision-makers. A flatter administrative structure allows day-to-day realities to better influence strategic decisions. One-on-one relationships between students, faculty, and staff are central to the Unity College value proposition. A more horizontal organization helps establish students at the heart of the community and keeps executive administration closer to that heart. A flatter organization also makes sure that there are opportunities to develop leadership at all levels of the organization.
Unity College expects empowered and accountable leadership.
Functional leadership is an approach that leans heavily on a team of mutually invested senior leaders. Rather than identifying a leader’s role by reporting lines, in a functional leadership model senior leaders are identified by their area(s) of primary functional responsibility. The senior level team shares overall responsibility for meeting strategic institutional goals, establishing campus culture, managing risk, and—most importantly—stewarding the mission of the college.
Within the senior leadership team, individuals serve as first among equals or chief officer in a given functional area of primary responsibility. The language of “chief officer” is familiar in the role of “Chief Academic Officer” and “Chief Financial Officer.” Chief officer is not a rank; it is a role.
The leadership team may have deans working with directors as first among equals. Different rank, parallel role. Chief of Staff serves as an extension of the office of the President and coordinates among the other chief officers.
A first among equals approach means being responsive to changing conditions; an individual’s capacity to serve will, at times, seem to stretch the boundaries of a strict job description in order to place project and need above reporting structure. First among equals means shared successes and shared failures. Celebrations are inclusive. Challenges, vulnerabilities, and mistakes are treated with transparency.
I’m writing today to announce the latest Chief Officer appointments: Chief Sustainability Officer and Chief of Staff. These will likely be the last of the internal appointments to Chief Officer positions. As with all Chief Officer appointments, these roles will take effect in January.
A New Model for Higher Education
“I may not have all the answers, but I am dedicating my career to creating the space to reimagine higher education. I invite current colleagues and new partners from across the world to work within that space to create a new model of higher education.” – Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, President, Unity College.