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Richard Bowman, Fargo , Published May 01 2013

Letter: Chancellor fails to develop trust

The very soul of leadership is the art of conversation, the ability to create a dialogue that others will willingly join and a world in which others want to belong. Conversational leadership is a relational phenomenon. Colleagues trust academic leaders who are open, forthcoming, personal, authentic and transparent. Where trust is an issue, there is no trust.

Perhaps the most critical conversation for any academic leader is the one that an individual is not having with that elusive moveable frontier called oneself. That inner journey is a prerequisite to establishing and sustaining trusting collegial relationships. For academic leaders, keeping up with that elusive moveable frontier called oneself surfaces a litany of questions: What am I refusing to look at? What am I refusing to face? How have I changed? What do I want for myself and especially for those whom I lead?

What North Dakota University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani fails to fully appreciate is that in values-based, academic cultures, strategy, structure, systems and processes matter, but getting trusting human relationships right matters more.