The Effective Leadership Team Way

It is not uncommon for a college/university president to have a cabinet. Typically, it is made up of all direct reports to the president and represents the senior leadership of the organization. Upon arrival at Des Moines University (DMU)  I soon realized that the cabinet did not fully represent the full scope of the administrative structure and frankly I much preferred the concept of Team effort. I changed the structure and formed the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), adding other units to the table. This team concept is reflected in my principles of leadership and I value the dynamics and synergies which come from all working together, united, to strive for organizational effectiveness.

The value of the “team” is also reflected in a principle many have come to know as the “Butler Way”.  This term was used since the Butler University basketball team excelled in the NCAA college basketball season in 2006-07.  The Butler Way has become associated with five principles of Butler Basketball and are as follows:

  1. Humility – know who we are, strengths and weaknesses
  2. Passion – do not be lukewarm, commit to excellence
  3. Unity – do not divide our house, team first
  4. Servanthood – make teammates better, lead by giving
  5. Thankfulness – learn from every circumstance

I am intrigued with these principles and find it fascinating that a basketball team’s success can parallel my own philosophy of leadership.  The value of each individual member of the team and the united effort along with being of service to others comes through loud and clearly in the Butler Way.  We are incorporating these principles into the DMU Way, but even more importantly, perhaps this is simply the “Effective Leadership Team Way”.

Everyone has a role to play. We are not all good at everything but we optimize the impact by relying on the strengths of  each member which minimizes the weaknesses. We strive for excellence in all that we do and we operate as ONE. It is not about the individual, but about the team and in the broadest sense , the team encompasses the entire organization. And in all that we do, we take the time  to acknowledge the effort, and show people how much we appreciate what they do.

Yes,  I think this is the Effective Leadership Team Way!

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