Digital Leadership in Higher Education w/ Dr. Josie Ahlquist

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Josie Ahlquist, consultant, author, and speaker, returns to the show to talk about how higher ed navigated the serious digital test we were given this year, along with the most powerful concepts from her new book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education.

I use social media as an entrypoint into larger considerations of technology and innovation. You're listening to enrollment growth university fromHelix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking togrow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growthtechniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place.Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proudmember of the connect e Tou podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education andwe're here today with Dr Josie Alquist, consultant, author and speaker. Josie, welcome back to the show. Thanks for halfing me. Really excitedto have you back on to talk about some of the most powerful concepts fromyour new book, digital leadership in higher education. congrats again for that.Before we dig in it, can you remind the listeners of your background?Yeah, well, I kind of joke that I was born into higher educationbecause I went to college and I fell in love with it and never wantedto leave. So I worked on college campuses for a dozen years or so, got my doctorate and then got the researcher and Speaker Bug, which waswhen the consultancy and my research was born, and so since two thousand and fourteenI've gone a bit rogue as a independent speaker and author and consultant.Love it. Josie, you've been talking about the importance of digital leadership andhire it for years now and our leadership was really given a serious digital testthis year. What did you observe this spring, the summer, this fallfrom hired leaders and institutions who were prepared...

...to lead digitally and those who weren't? Such a good question and if I wasn't so plugged into the final likelegs of the book, I would have wanted to dive even more deeper intoresearch and including what I was finding, because you found different waves of those. I saw a few different things. One subset who have been engaged onlineconsistently for years were able to maintain that engagement and leaned in even in thedarkest of days. I also saw this other group that used to be reallyengaged but got really quiet and not being in those, you know, zoommeetings to know what was really happening. I'm sure there was some rationales forthat, but sometimes one when it only becomes the hard work and the crisiscommunications, where may be before they were posting a lot more of just allthe good stuff, the positive stuff. That could get difficult for a leader. I also saw, especially early on, the use of different tools or communicationstyles that really were well received, let's say videos or messages that werevery human centered, that connected with communities exactly where they were, especially emotionally. But then I also saw leaders that were maybe pressed to do a videoor some kind of press announcement that was very not congruent with who they areand that was felt as well. So I mean lot lots of different interestingdiscoveries and things and I have seen though this fall it feels like there's beena settling in and I think what I also hope is happening, because I'mseeing in some pockets, is, as we think about the online presence ofcampus leaders, knowing what your Rolodex is on your campus, maybe your president, just based upon circumstances and personality and...

...who they are, they all theymight be like the best person to put out front and to be connecting inways that I define a digital leadership. Or maybe it's actually the provost orthe vice president or dean, and so we're seeing different pockets across campus beingable to take on some of those practices. It is such a perfect time forthis book to come out and, like you mentioned, a lot ofnew potential content for your sequel. But in this book you're helping hire aleaders discovered their why for leading online. Can you give us an example ofwhat that why might look like for a president or a probost? Well,I get asked a lot is is this worth my time? These platforms changeall the time. Do students even, or parents or family? Do theyreally want to connect with me? And these tools are simple to sign upfor a twitter right, but they take a lot of time and energy toto do so. My why question is at the heart of answering that,Roy question is, well, what is your purpose? What are your values? And then let's connect a platform and a strategy with your people that wecan answer that question for you, that are we actually reaching toward those goalsthat you have. And then, you know, even more advanced skill setsof being able to evaluate an assess it and we don't want you to bedoing busy work which social media can turn into so quickly. And so someexamples and they're all listed, honestly, in one page or my website thatI featured dozens and dozens of campus leaders, from a midlevel professional to a facultyto a chancellor, to give lots of examples of your why, becausethey can all be different and some of...

...them were very, let's say,based on topics that were really important to people, so maybe mental health.Others were more of wanting to serve faculty. For my why, I am drivenby connection, that I want to be a connector and a facilitator forconnection, and so that would be kind of what would make up my why. You've been giving this pitch for a while about administrators and leaders needing toup level their digital skills. Hopefully it's become an easier argument, especially thisyear, but remind us again how critical do you think digital skills, digitalsavvy, is in that skill stack for a successful hire read leader? Andhow could that have helped so many more institutions have a smoother, more communicativesummer? MMM. So there are five guiding principles of digital leadership and thereis research that I did for the book, so there is data that backs upthese guiding principles, not just like thoughts and opinions, even though Ihave plenty of those. And and again, I'm this framework came about before thepandemic, the knee, and so one of the guiding principles is change. As a leader you need to be both willing to and adaptable to changeand embracing it, but also you do not need to be the expert ineverything, especially technology. You have to be able to remove your ego andinvolve other people that do have the knowledge and experience and understanding to teach you, to give you feedback. And this is really interesting correlation. Again anotherresearch project that I'd love to do. A lot of the early adapters of, especially presidents, have children at home and they are the ones that areintroducing them to Ticktock and giving them coaching...

...to how to show up. orI mean again like just that correlation, I think, is really telling.So obviously our family dynamics are different than our cabinet meetings or are in ourteams, but who are those people around that you can surround yourself with?Like, for me, I don't have kids, but my niece is anephew someday will be the ones that help guide me or someone else that Imake sure is on my team, that they can that be that digital influencerin my life. So, especially now, when you're creating some kind of videothat's going to go out a response, or just your thinking about setting upyour instagram, you need to have some folks around you with that relevancy, that skills and strategies and actually with social this shit definitely include whoever itis in your audience you want to connect with. So if that students,you need to get students into your calendar more often to be your digital educators. You've helped us explain why hired leaders need to discover their own why forleading online, to make that commitment to digital advancement. Talk about what itmeans for a higher and leader to have a values based strategy for social media. Well, this is this brings us back into why I use the wordleadership, after digital, is the belief that leadership can happen, can beenacted in all types of contexts, including online. And to a leader weare required to discern, to be selfaware and to work towards congruent in orderto commit to positive change, and so, taking what you know about yourself andyour values, that should influence your strategy on social media, and thosevalues can go, you know, we...

...can use the word personal, let'ssay, into your identity, your faith, your history, but it can also, it also should be connected to your campus, because that's as youare serving in that leadership position. It is within that context. So what'sthe values in the mission and the objective of your institution that's going to againhelp answer those questions of what to post today or should I be out onthat platform or not? Technology acceleration and adoption took a big lead forward thissummer, whether we wanted it to or we're ready for it to happen ornot. From your viewpoint, what's next? Some of us are playing a catchup games, some of US are trying to leap forward. What doesthe future of digital leadership look like in I read? Well, I willsay for the book and most of the work that I do, I usesocial media as an entry point into larger considerations of technology and innovation. Butto look at digital leadership and the outlet of social media for very public campusleaders I do think we need to formally document the importance not just through well, research is great and publishing a book is great, to do that toto document that importance. But we need to see it in job descriptions,in graduate programs, in in more than just getting your departments and your organizationswithin social media strategy. What does it actually mean to navigate and show upon these platforms as people who are serving in higher ED leader? So alot more transparency within those types of support systems. And then I don't liketo use the word expectation because I know again, campus leaders already have somuch on their plates, but we do...

...need to social proof it and that'swhy in the book I include so many leaders that are doing what I see, based upon those principles as digital leadership, because you would be so surprised howmany people still tell me they don't think leadership can happen online, thatno leader Shud has any business on social media, that you don't need it. And actually that is where not all, but a lot of your people areand you it's negligence and misinformed to not at least be knowledgeable and opento what those platforms are and how you can make an impact in those spaces. Josie, such great stuff. Any Next Steps Advice? Along with buyingyour book of course, for higher head leaders looking to up level their digitalskill steck. Well, depending on where you are in the the skill setof digital engagement. Before you think that I'm shaming you onto any platform orpractice, is first to learn, and that's a huge, huge value ineducation is to be learners. So it is also a very necessity for digitalleaders to simply have knowledge of relevant trends and platform so you don't need tobe on Ticktock, but at least know what it is and how it's potentiallyimpacting those you serve. So the knowledge base is there for that tool,not that you need to get on it and get posting, but go intoit in a social listening angle to learn and understand. I think the secondwould be and a discovery that came from my research, is I we stillhave a lot of leaders that don't have a documented strategy for their presence online. And for some, I mean we...

...all have different organization styles. Somefolks really do want to kind of roll with on the HIP and post asthey go and others might need a much more like built out day by daystructure. Kind of know your own style, but we need to have really cleargoals that then we can look back to see if we've attained them.I think that's the other way that we are going to advance digital leadership,is that we can evaluate the progress we've made because we were on the toolover time. Josie, thanks so much of your time today. Where canlisteners pick up your book and what's the best place to connect with you ifthey have any follow questions? So I'm on all the socials at Josie allquizt and then my website, Josiakascom. The book has a home on thatwebsite. It's Josiekascom backs digital leadership and you can scoop up the book frommy publisher, which is stylis publishing, or Amazon or anywhere else that youcan find books on the Internet. You can grab it. They're awesome nice. Again. So much for joining us again, Jose, my pleasure.Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations datadriven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrivein this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition oftheir enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solvetoday's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download it today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. Toensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes oryour favorite podcast player. Thank you so...

...much for listening. Until next time,.

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