Forging good leaders.

How do we create leaders? What is a leader? What is a great leader?

These are the questions I find myself wondering this week. There are dozens of reasons really that such things are on my mind. To be perfectly honest, I was actually wondering if even asking about leadership was quaint, dated, and anachronistic. We live in a bold new world, after all.

In business administration courses, we would call our modern sort of world flatter. There is less need for managerial hierarchy when we have access to 24/7 information streams. This is democratization of information, and it is a perfectly fine thing.

But I realized that free information alone doesn’t ipso facto mean we no longer need leaders. I see it in my classroom, where my students must learn to make their own choices but need some guidance getting there. I see it myself, when I ask our new president a rather absurd question, hoping for some peace for my OCD mind. (Side note: Apologies, Dr Hinds, for wasting your Friday afternoon.)

So what makes a great leader? Warren Buffet, in some respects a personal hero of mine and currently the world’s third richest leader, states one must “Look for three things in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. If they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother.”

Mr Buffet’s claim holds true when one looks at the research. Leaders who consistently rank high on integrity year over year tend to manage people who drastically outperform their peers (see the interesting article about How Much Is a Leader’s Integrity Worth?).

This idea doesn’t just tie into market wealth. It ties directly into education as well. Gallup has recently done some fascinating work in connecting our students’ future successes to their experiences on campus. Experiences seem shaped by genuine integrity.

How do we shape an environment where our students, our faculty, and our staff can gain these experiences in ways that increase energy and integrity?

Personally, I feel that a big part of integrity lies in honest communication. I’m not only saying that word because October is the month designated for workshops focused on communication. I’m saying that because I think we need to create opportunities for dialogue that reach out and across. What do our students find most helpful in learning? What do we find most helpful to create an environment for learning? Do those things match? What resources would be game changers?

This leads to my final thought. I want to be sure that as we move into our second year, QEP is heading in the right direction. I’m going to be making an effort to reach out to all of you, but I need your help. The lower right of my postcard is not just a nice sentiment. I really enjoy chatting with everyone here at Victoria College, so when you have an idea, please never hesitate to share. Your questions or suggestions will never be as silly as mine are! And, if you see me out and about across campus, flag me down! If I am not heading to a meeting or class, I’d enjoy a talk.



Matt Wiley is a tenured, associate professor of mathematics with awards in both mathematics education and honour student engagement. He earned an assortment of degrees in computer science, business, and pure mathematics from the University of California and Texas A&M systems. He is the director of quality enhancement at Victoria College, assisting in the development and implementation of a comprehensive assessment program to enhance institutional performance outcomes. A programmer, a published author, a mathematician, and a transformational leader, Matt has always melded his passion for writing with his joy of logical problem solving and data science. From the boardroom to the classroom, he enjoys finding dynamic ways to partner with interdisciplinary and diverse teams to make complex ideas and projects understandable and solvable.

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