Ujima Donalson

A Note from Ujima Donalson,
POD Director

What a remarkable time! Since January, four deans, one chancellor, one vice provost, one vice president, and one ombud have joined the University—and most of these new leaders have come to us from outside the UW. Such a sea change in University leadership is incredibly exciting, but having someone new at the helm—let alone numerous new people on board—also tends to trigger concerns about change, strategic direction, the future, and other unknowns.

In Managing Transitions, William Bridges coined the time and space between one thing ending and another beginning the "neutral zone." The neutral zone, of course, feels anything but neutral to most. It’s an ambiguous time during which you’re likely to see anxiety rise, motivation fall, turnover increase, organizational weaknesses surface, and interpersonal relationships grow tense, just to name a few possible byproducts. It sounds daunting, but the prepared leader can effectively manage change and its many side effects.

I hope the articles in this issue of the Leading Edge will help you more smoothly navigate change for yourself and your team, face the many things over which you do not have control, and more effectively plan for those areas and initiatives where you do have some control. As President Young said in his annual address last month, the worst of the financial challenges are over; itís now time to chart a course for the future.

Personally, I am excited about the boon of new leadership and the incredible opportunities and possibilities it brings. We may find ourselves nudged (or jolted) out of our usual routines and ways of thinking, but if we’re prepared, those kinds of challenges will only serve to make us better leaders in the long run. I encourage you to ready—and steady—yourself! Be curious, stay open, remain receptive. Be flexible and be willing to improvise—those are skills we can all forever hone.

Happy holidays, and best wishes for a successful year!

Autumn 2013 | Return to issue home