Strong leaders share certain traits, including the ability to realistically assess a situation or organization, develop a vision and a plan for achieving it, and motivate others to action.
But strong leadership also depends on context. Different organizations demand different leadership skills during dif- ferent times. The unique abilities required to lead troops into battle, for example, are very different than those required to lead a church congregation in worship. The skills needed to guide a fledgling start-up company are not the same as those required to lead the same company years later once it has reached a level of success.
When I assumed the presidency of Mississippi College a decade ago, the university was experiencing a period of crisis. MC carried significant debt, income was down, and enroll- ment was low in comparison to overhead. In that context at that time, the role of the MC leadership was to push. MC moved forward with new academic programs and launched an ambitious capital campaign. Motivated by a sense of urgency and energized by the possibilities, the MC family responded decisively and with enthusiasm.
Today, 10 years later, we have retired a great deal of the university’s debt and raised more than $85 million through the “Growing the Vision” campaign. We’ve made tremendous improvements to our physical plant and strengthened our endowment, and enrollment is at an all-time high.
This success brings new challenges for me and for others in leadership positions at MC. Now that the crisis mode has passed, our role is to maintain the energy, motivation, and sense of urgency that brought us to this point. Over the past decade, we’ve created a culture of innovation and responsive- ness at MC; maintaining that momentum in positive times is our next challenge.
Obviously, there are many differences between leading troops into battle and leading our university into its next phase. But with your support, we will capitalize on the momentum we’ve built and continue to pursue our shared vision to become a university recognized for academic excel- lence and commitment to the cause of Christ.