Good afternoon NMC community, I hope the first month of your spring semester has been positive. It has been a busy and exciting time for me around campus! As we head toward the middle of the semester, when some of the new begins to wear off and we settle into routines, I’d like to talk with you about commitment. I promised you that weekly, over a five-week period, I would share a short personal reflection about the “Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams.” To become a high performing and cohesive team, members must trust one another, engage in healthy conflict around ideas, commit to decisions, hold one another accountable, and focus on achieving collective results. This week, I turn our attention to commitment.
Great teams understand they must be able to make timely decisions and commit, even when the outcome is uncertain and not everyone initially agrees. It’s the desire for consensus and the need for certainty that prevents many teams from achieving commitment and making real progress. Teams that fail to commit find themselves revisiting discussions and decisions again and again. They encourage second-guessing, which creates ambiguity and lack of confidence about the team’s direction and priorities. Whether it’s avoidance of risk, excessive analysis, or fear of failure, a lack of team commitment means delay and lost opportunities. It also means a lot of wiggle room with fewer bases for accountability and an inattention to results.
As a new team, the President’s Council and I are seeking to build trust, and engage in healthy conflict so we can commit to decisions and, ultimately, hold one another accountable to focus on achieving collective results. We’re doing this by being intentional about how we structure our meetings and agendas, how we engage in decision making, and how we ensure follow-through with commitment to action. We’re being intentional about our development as a team and mindful of the opportunity to lead by example as role models for the rest of the college.
Too often organizations lack true commitment. Employees feign buy-in on group decisions because of their fear of conflict. Artificial harmony is sought over constructive debate. What does commitment mean to you? To me, it means sticking with it. It means not giving up, even if it gets messy and tough. Commitment usually evokes a strong sense of intention and focus. This week, after spending my first month focused on campus engaging with our students and employees, I ventured outside of NMC to visit with other stakeholder groups, specifically, our alumni and donors. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, I was able to travel to Sarasota and Naples, Florida, to engage with our NMC alumni and visit several of our key supporters and donors. These are individuals with intention and focus — intention to help transform students’ lives through their generous support, and focus on bringing the necessary resources to the table, to help NMC accomplish our desired outcome of student success.
Many of our students demonstrate incredible levels of commitment. I recently learned about an NMC student who found herself in a life-changing situation, needing to start over. She was a single mom in the military, which was not what she had envisioned for herself. She wanted to build a better world and pursue her passion of sustainability and renewable energy, and wondered how she could study environmental issues while caring for her daughter in northern Michigan. She heard about NMC through the college’s reputation for being a top school for veterans. Due to the commitment of our employees, and support from donors, we offer a dedicated office of Military and Veterans Services and multiple military-specific scholarships. In turn, this student feels supported and can remain committed to sticking with her education and not giving up on her goals. In fact, she finished her first semester at NMC with a 4.0 GPA.
Let me encourage us to follow this student’s example and be committed to sticking with it and not giving up. Also, let’s be inspired by the supporters and donors who are committed to NMC, as witnessed by their intention and focus. And, rest assured, the President’s Council will be ever mindful that commitment matters, because it fosters shared vision. In a workplace, a shared vision changes people’s relationship with the company. It is no longer their company, it becomes our company. At NMC we understand that we’re not just a community college, we’re the community’s college. A shared vision uplifts team members’ aspirations. It gives a higher purpose to work. It creates a sense of immersion, excitement and passion. A shared vision is what inspired cathedral builders of the Middle Ages to labor on cathedrals that could take 100 years to complete. It’s what inspired NASA to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. It’s what inspired Apple to realize its vision of a computer which people could understand intuitively. As I go about listening and learning to orient to NMC, I am seeking to understand the shared vision that connects the NMC internal community with the external community. What I am repeatedly hearing echoes the 1951 course catalog tagline, Community Centered – Community Serving, which speaks to the shared vision NMC has committed to for almost 70 years! I look forward to recommitting to that shared vision with you as we work toward continued success for our students and this community for decades to come!