What we’re learning from the Emerging Educational Administrator Institute (EEAI), Part 2

Edna Magpantay-Monroe, Jeffrey Willey, and Anne Thomas | 11/01/2018

One of a series of updates by participants. The institute develops and inspires nurse faculty in their early administrative careers.

Leadership Scholar diary: Edna R. Magpantay-Monroe

Edna R. Magpantay-MonroeThe title of my project for the Emerging Educational Administrator Institute is “Building a Framework for School of Nursing Excellence: A Marianist Way.” Researching information for my project has been a rewarding journey. I started my inquiry by getting feedback from faculty and staff at Chaminade University of Honolulu about what we do as a school to follow Marianist principles and values. Conversations I’ve had with many people at the university have led to additional resources. As information unfolds, I find that many people have a true interest in understanding Marianist principles and values we can apply to our work. The intent is to live the mission. I also researched other Catholic universities, including our two sister Marianist schools, for additional information.

My project has focused on creating a culture of trust and respect at the school with initiatives that tie in with Marianist tenets. Building a sustainable framework started with pursuing transparency through information and difficult conversations. To that end, the university is hosting a series of lectures about higher education in the Marianist tradition, led by a member of the Marianist Educational Associates community. The School of Nursing is also exploring how to create a just culture founded on our roles as facilitators for the students we serve, as administrators and staff, and as servants to the community.

Our triad continues to meet for updates. My Mentor and Faculty Advisor offer suggestions on my project and guide my administrative career path. I chose to focus on three skills and traits: time management, role delineation, and team building. Time management and role delineation are important because I have been a faculty member at my current university for more than seven years and have served as chief nurse administrator for almost two years. Some aspects of my experience as a senior faculty member have carried over to my role as chief nurse administrator. The last focus, team building, is a priority because our team is in the process of rebuilding.

One of the challenges I have encountered in meeting my goals is timely reflection. It has been difficult to set aside time to reflect because I am frequently juggling several priorities. My leadership development has included improving my listening skills and empowering other faculty and staff to take the lead. I feel that resiliency is key to my growth as a leader because I need to adapt to meet the complex demands of stakeholders. Practicing mindfulness and having the courage to make changes and see problems as opportunities to connect with others have been fundamental to my role.

My Sigma Faculty Advisor and Mentor guide my inquisitiveness and validate my strengths. The virtual meetings of our triad are very refreshing, and I’m learning practical information that is useful in my career. For example, I attended a Zoom meeting about budgeting, where experienced deans and directors shared valuable information on how to approach various budget situations. I have access to a large number of resources through the institute.

Mary Kawena Pukui, a Hawaiian scholar and educator, collected Hawaiian proverbs and poetic sayings that have been passed down through generations. I found the following proverb especially powerful:I am a wind resisting ʻaʻaliʻi, no gale can push me over. In difficult times, when attacked, one stands strong.” The ʻaʻaliʻi bush can withstand the worst of gales—twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over. It reminds me of leadership’s many challenges and opportunities and how they tie in with Marianist principles of adaptation and change.

Edna R. Magpantay-Monroe, EdD, APRN, is chief nurse administrator and a professor at Chaminade University of Honolulu in Hawaii, USA, and a member of the Marianist Educational Associates community at Chaminade. She is president of Gamma Psi at-Large Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. 

Leadership Mentor diary: Jeffrey Willey

Jeffrey WileyAs my team continues along the third phase of the mentoring process (navigating or maintaining progress; Starr, 2014), I have begun to notice that this phase can be a little tricky. During any academic leadership experience, one can become discouraged and feel that progress has come to a frustrating halt.

This seldom happens to experienced bedside nurses because patient care does not take breaks or typically need approvals to maintain care. However, this is not the case in academe. In that environment, the time needed to secure multiple layers of approval can be, well, mind-blowing, to say the least. As bedside nurses, we are used to doing things pretty quickly, but in academe, the approval process can wither the strongest of wills.

As I weave my way through this third phase of the process, seeking to provide the tools and mindset my mentee needs to achieve her goals, I am obligated to encourage her and share my experiences. In nursing leadership, as in bedside nursing, one must learn to remain flexible. Sometimes we need to step back, relook at the situation in the moment, and make necessary changes or alterations to the plan to achieve our mission. This may even mean altering or changing the mission to achieve our end goal. As Wakeman (2017) notes, we must not let our ego determine our focus. It is not about winning or losing a battle—it is about accomplishing what is needed for our cause.

Mentoring requires commitment to the mentee and to oneself to truly fulfill the obligations that make the process work. Unlike coaching, which tends to take place in a short time span, mentoring requires long-term commitment. Attending regularly scheduled meetings is important, as is allowing the mentee to work through some of the challenges that arise without barging in with my own responses or thoughts. Making decisions for someone else based on past experiences is sometimes easier but does not allow the mentee to grow and can interfere with the mentor’s need to see how someone else comes up with a solution.

Maintaining our structure remains critical as we continue on our path toward achieving our project goals. It is also essential to maintain my goal of assisting my mentee and helping her transition into the role of emerging educational administrator. As I have mentioned, life is about learning new ideas. I believe I am getting as much out of this experience as my mentee. How fortunate I am to have this opportunity to grow in my role as an administrator and academician.

Jeffrey Willey, PhD, RN, CNS, CLNC, CNE, is director of the School of Nursing at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, USA.

Starr, J. (2014). The mentoring manual: Your step by step guide to being a better mentor. Harlow, England: Pearson.

Wakeman, C. (2017). No ego: How leaders can cut the cost of workplace drama, end entitlement, and drive big results. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Faculty Advisor diary: Anne Thomas

Anne ThomasThe EEAI journey continues! I have the privilege of being a Faculty Advisor for two triad groups. The Leadership Scholars in these groups are at different career points in their educational leadership journeys: One is in a new middle-level management position, while the other is in a senior-level executive role. Although their roles involve different levels of responsibilities and decision-making, their leadership journeys are similar in many ways.

One discussion we had was about the Scholars’ roles in leading highly educated individuals who are experts in their areas of interest. Brilliant minds often create highly diverse and complex scenarios. If you picture all those academic minds in one room, you can “hear” the rich and sometimes challenging discussions, strong opinions, and visionary goals.

How many times has someone said to you that academic administration is like herding cats? One Scholar asked if there is ever a time when administrators can stop putting out “fires” and start making a difference. My answer was, is it really a fire that needs to be extinguished, or should it be used to provide heat to others? In short, many fires are really good ideas that should be examined for the positive aspects they may bring to the unit—instead of dismissed immediately as detrimental issues.

Is it time for you, as an administrator, to step back and look at the situation with a different lens? Chaos and disharmony are often the beginning of exceptional outcomes and pathways. Conversely, the fire may indicate that a project or situation is poorly timed or does not have sufficient resources. Or is it a signal that someone’s skill set would be better used for another purpose? As a leader, you will need to recognize whether the fire is burning down the forest or creating a warm environment that facilitates optional conversations and work products.

Webinars containing information readily usable in their work environments have enhanced the Scholars’ leadership toolkits. Following the webinars, Faculty Advisors led debriefing sessions to facilitate discussion about how the Scholars could use the information at their employment sites. Even if they don’t directly apply the content to their job role, the Scholars came away with a new sense of appreciation for decisions their supervisors have to make—particularly in relation to the budgeting webinar content.

This brought about discussions involving their understanding of the big picture, strategic mission and vision, current organizational initiatives, and national agendas (both for higher education and nursing) as they relate to the Scholars’ job role. Academic leadership involves both horizontal and vertical decision-making, and it is easy to get mired in one or the other—which can lead to tunnel vision and ineffective decision-making.

Finally, both Scholars have designed goals, objectives, work plans, and timelines to complete their projects for EEAI. The triad communicates on a regular basis—about two to three times a month, using email, phone conferences, or virtual meetings—to discuss the project as well as other topics. The triad has talked about challenges that unexpectedly arose, timelines that needed to be adjusted, and unanticipated resources that escalated the project faster than expected, along with how to manage a project while engaged in other daily activities. The Scholars are often reminded that the project is the application of their leadership journey, not the sole outcome of EEAI.

Interestingly, the triad’s discussion typically circles back to where leadership often begins: how to optimize resource use and acquisition that are appropriate to academic administration—and knowing that someone else has probably asked similar questions. Resources include conferences, websites, books, publications, and foundations and grants. However, the value of establishing mentors and developing critical relationships is foundational to successful leadership trajectories. One of the best components of EEAI is providing a solid foundation via the Mentor/Faculty/Scholar triad that facilitates a comprehensive professional network to take the Scholar’s leadership journey to a higher level and promote continual growth. RNL

Anne Thomas, PhD, ANP-BC, GNP, FAANP, is associate dean for academic affairs at Michigan State University College of Nursing in East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Read Part 1 of the EEAI leadership diaries. If you are interested in this opportunity, more information is available here

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