Creating a New Reality for Higher Education

Creating a New Reality
for Higher Education

Today, we're sitting down with learning partner Kari Granger, CEO and founder of The Granger Network, to discuss why AFIT's learning theme, which focuses on transformative leadership, is not only relevant but essential for today's higher education leaders.

AFIT: Thanks for being with us today, Kari. Tell us, what does 'transformative leadership' mean to you? 

Kari Granger: Transformative leadership is the realization of a future that was not going to happen anyway, which future, addresses the fundamental cares of the relevant parties. Leadership, therefore, is not about the personality or even skills of the leader—it’s not person-based. Rather, it is commitment-based. And, it’s not just the commitment of a single leader out in front, but rather it is what emerges by considering what is fundamentally important to the relevant parties. Relevant parties are, essentially, those who are impacted by the leadership. It’s also not any kind of future, but specifically a future that is not predictable given one’s current trajectory.

AFIT: Why is this topic important to higher education right now?

KG: Well, to put it bluntly, higher education is in the middle of a historical shift. Between the technological forces, economic forces, social changes, political changes, and more, the landscape is shifting and what is predictable, isn’t predictable! At its core, transformative leadership is about creating a new reality—and higher education can lead or be led in this endeavor.

AFIT: What can you teach us about transformative leadership?

KG: I have been studying transformative leadership since I was in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have taught it, lived it, coached over 2,500 hours on it, and consult it. So, it’s a passion of mine, and I have seen it both in the academic classroom, in boardrooms, and under enemy fire. I have a fairly well-grounded perspective to share.

I only recently began to become familiar with community colleges, and from what I can see, the principles of transformative leadership will support this industry—from the personal and interpersonal (faculty, staff and students), to team and organizational (departments, organizational alignment, etc.), the community, and the relations within the community—and if the right people come together, it has the potential to transform the industry itself.

AFIT: What should AFIT members expect from you as a learning partner?

KG: Authentic engagement and passion. Willingness to answer ANY question and be challenged on ANY point for the sake of evolving the learning. To be committed to support you in grappling with the principles and developing your methods to apply the principles.

You might also expect me to challenge your existing frame of reference and worldview for the sake of opening up new perspectives, directions, and actions. AND, if you are willing to go there, then we may together open something up neither one of us could have seen from our perspective walking in. Lastly, you can expect me to learn as much as you are learning.

AFIT: If any AFIT members are unsure how to assemble their teams for this year's Summer Institute, what advice would you give them? Who should have a seat at the table?

KG: People you need to partner with to move your college to the next level. Bring the ambitious ones that will pull the learning toward themselves rather than thinking the learning is for someone else.

Want to learn more from Kari? Check out her podcast, Leadership Impact, and join us at the 2019 Summer Institute in Plano, TX, where Kari will be one of our learning partners. Learn more »

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