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 entry point into larger considerations of technology and innovation. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques 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 proud member of the connect e Tou podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Josie Alquist, consultant, author and speaker. Josie, welcome back to the show. Thanks for halfing me. Really excited to have you back on to talk about some of the most powerful concepts from your 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 education because I went to college and I fell in love with it and never wanted to 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 was when the consultancy and my research was born, and so since two thousand and fourteen I'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 and hire it for years now and our leadership was really given a serious digital test this year. What did you observe this spring, the summer, this fall from 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 like legs of the book, I would have wanted to dive even more deeper into research 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 online consistently for years were able to maintain that engagement and leaned in even in the darkest of days. I also saw this other group that used to be really engaged but got really quiet and not being in those, you know, zoom meetings to know what was really happening. I'm sure there was some rationales for that, but sometimes one when it only becomes the hard work and the crisis communications, where may be before they were posting a lot more of just all the good stuff, the positive stuff. That could get difficult for a leader. I also saw, especially early on, the use of different tools or communication styles that really were well received, let's say videos or messages that were very 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 video or some kind of press announcement that was very not congruent with who they are and that was felt as well. So I mean lot lots of different interesting discoveries and things and I have seen though this fall it feels like there's been a settling in and I think what I also hope is happening, because I'm seeing in some pockets, is, as we think about the online presence of campus leaders, knowing what your Rolodex is on your campus, maybe your president, just based upon circumstances and personality and...

...who they are, they all they might be like the best person to put out front and to be connecting in ways that I define a digital leadership. Or maybe it's actually the provost or the vice president or dean, and so we're seeing different pockets across campus being able to take on some of those practices. It is such a perfect time for this book to come out and, like you mentioned, a lot of new potential content for your sequel. But in this book you're helping hire a leaders discovered their why for leading online. Can you give us an example of what 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 change all the time. Do students even, or parents or family? Do they really want to connect with me? And these tools are simple to sign up for a twitter right, but they take a lot of time and energy to to 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 we can answer that question for you, that are we actually reaching toward those goals that you have. And then, you know, even more advanced skill sets of being able to evaluate an assess it and we don't want you to be doing busy work which social media can turn into so quickly. And so some examples and they're all listed, honestly, in one page or my website that I featured dozens and dozens of campus leaders, from a midlevel professional to a faculty to a chancellor, to give lots of examples of your why, because they 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 driven by connection, that I want to be a connector and a facilitator for connection, 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 to up level their digital skills. Hopefully it's become an easier argument, especially this year, but remind us again how critical do you think digital skills, digital savvy, is in that skill stack for a successful hire read leader? And how could that have helped so many more institutions have a smoother, more communicative summer? MMM. So there are five guiding principles of digital leadership and there is research that I did for the book, so there is data that backs up these guiding principles, not just like thoughts and opinions, even though I have plenty of those. And and again, I'm this framework came about before the pandemic, the knee, and so one of the guiding principles is change. As a leader you need to be both willing to and adaptable to change and embracing it, but also you do not need to be the expert in everything, especially technology. You have to be able to remove your ego and involve 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 another research 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 are introducing them to Ticktock and giving them coaching...

...to how to show up. or I 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 our teams, but who are those people around that you can surround yourself with? Like, for me, I don't have kids, but my niece is a nephew someday will be the ones that help guide me or someone else that I make sure is on my team, that they can that be that digital influencer in my life. So, especially now, when you're creating some kind of video that's going to go out a response, or just your thinking about setting up your 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 it is 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 for leading online, to make that commitment to digital advancement. Talk about what it means 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 word leadership, after digital, is the belief that leadership can happen, can be enacted in all types of contexts, including online. And to a leader we are required to discern, to be selfaware and to work towards congruent in order to commit to positive change, and so, taking what you know about yourself and your values, that should influence your strategy on social media, and those values can go, you know, we...

...can use the word personal, let's say, into your identity, your faith, your history, but it can also, it also should be connected to your campus, because that's as you are serving in that leadership position. It is within that context. So what's the values in the mission and the objective of your institution that's going to again help answer those questions of what to post today or should I be out on that platform or not? Technology acceleration and adoption took a big lead forward this summer, whether we wanted it to or we're ready for it to happen or not. From your viewpoint, what's next? Some of us are playing a catch up games, some of US are trying to leap forward. What does the future of digital leadership look like in I read? Well, I will say for the book and most of the work that I do, I use social media as an entry point into larger considerations of technology and innovation. But to look at digital leadership and the outlet of social media for very public campus leaders 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 to to 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 organizations within social media strategy. What does it actually mean to navigate and show up on these platforms as people who are serving in higher ED leader? So a lot more transparency within those types of support systems. And then I don't like to use the word expectation because I know again, campus leaders already have so much on their plates, but we do...

...need to social proof it and that's why 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 how many people still tell me they don't think leadership can happen online, that no 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 are and you it's negligence and misinformed to not at least be knowledgeable and open to what those platforms are and how you can make an impact in those spaces. Josie, such great stuff. Any Next Steps Advice? Along with buying your book of course, for higher head leaders looking to up level their digital skill steck. Well, depending on where you are in the the skill set of digital engagement. Before you think that I'm shaming you onto any platform or practice, is first to learn, and that's a huge, huge value in education is to be learners. So it is also a very necessity for digital leaders to simply have knowledge of relevant trends and platform so you don't need to be on Ticktock, but at least know what it is and how it's potentially impacting 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 into it in a social listening angle to learn and understand. I think the second would be and a discovery that came from my research, is I we still have 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. Some folks really do want to kind of roll with on the HIP and post as they go and others might need a much more like built out day by day structure. Kind of know your own style, but we need to have really clear goals 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 tool over time. Josie, thanks so much of your time today. Where can listeners pick up your book and what's the best place to connect with you if they have any follow questions? So I'm on all the socials at Josie all quizt and then my website, Josiakascom. The book has a home on that website. It's Josiekascom backs digital leadership and you can scoop up the book from my publisher, which is stylis publishing, or Amazon or anywhere else that you can 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 data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today'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. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so...

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

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