A Culture of Accountability in Advancement Leadership

While accountability is at the core of successful advancement programs in higher education, establishing and nurturing a positive, accountable culture can be difficult. Writes Kellie Woodhouse in CASE Currents magazine, “Advancement leaders must be willing to have difficult conversations and find ways to promote performance metrics that empower employees, avoid micromanagement, and leverage an institution’s strategic goals and mission. Team members need to feel like they can rely on their peers and have difficult, even vulnerable, conversations. And individuals must have a clear understanding of expectations and the confidence that all employees are being held to the same standard.”

When accountability isn’t present, things become “murky,” notes WittKieffer principal Greg Duyck in the article. Staff can lose their effectiveness and sense of direction and mission. As a result, the entire advancement team suffers.

Before becoming a search consultant, Duyck was a senior associate vice president for development at Stony Brook University in New York. He would motivate his team by, for example, sending weekly emails congratulating staff on successful solicitations and outlining the week’s fundraising highlights, successes, and challenges. This would prompt colleagues to reply with updates of their own, sparking constant conversation among the team. “We made the whole team’s goal real for each individual,” said Duyck. “They could see what their goal meant for the larger [university] goal and for the team.”

Establishing accountability among an advancement team isn’t always fun, Woodhouse writes, but it is critical for that team’s performance.

Read the full article from CASE Currents here.

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