Opening Doors, The Higher-Ed Leadership Playbook
Nancy Martin and Josefina C. Baltodano, J.D.

ISBN;
978-0-9720457-1-1
2021

“Founded on the principles of inclusive excellence and social justice, OPENING DOORS is a ground-breaking book resting on the principle that leaders are made, not born. It provides strategies and tactics on how to move ahead in your leadership journey in higher education— most importantly, doing so in a principled, inclusive way throughout your career. Martin and Baltodano unravel the mysteries of the search process as well as the cultural anthropology of leadership transition. This is the sort of book that you buy and return to again and again, over a lifetime of service in leadership positions.

Nancy Martin and Josefina Baltodano have the perfect background to enable them, indeed to compel them, to write this book. Between them they have decades of success in recruiting top talent in higher education, coupled with many additional accomplishments in coaching people as they grow in their current jobs. Their combined experience is foundational and has shaped the book in remarkably intelligent and creative ways. “

(Excerpts from the Opening Doors forward, written by Dr. Charles R. Middleton, Professor and President Emeritus, Roosevelt University)

PART I – The Strategic Leadership Playbook

Chapter 1: Fundamental Guiding Principles

At the end of her campus interview, a finalist in a Dean of Arts and Sciences search at an R-I university was compelled to knock on the Provost’s door. She asked, “may I come in and close the door?” She went on to say that she could not accept the Provost’s offer without the clear understanding of the support, human and financial, necessary to make a successful turnaround. (She said to herself: “Always be the person in control, centered, and the servant-leader.”)

Chapter 2: Finding the Fit

When a candidate decided to explore a particular presidency, he discovered obvious misalignment with his own values. It was easy for him to close the door on that opportunity, as in reality, it was no opportunity at all.

Chapter 3: Equity, Inclusion, and Transformation

“If we achieve a richer culture rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”
—Margaret Mead

Chapter 4: Taking Inventory

A recent decanal candidate discovered the secret of transferable skills by finding her narrative voice to articulate her strengths and intangible leadership qualities. Then she realized she didn’t need every item on the (HEELI) checklist to open up leadership doors.

Chapter 5: Emotional and Social Intelligence (EI & SI)

As you continuously build upon your emotional and social intelligence capabilities, the door opens with amazing alacrity.

Chapter 6: Your Tool Kit

A. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
B. Cover Letters
C. References
D. Distinguishing Yourself in the Electronic Age

Chapter 7: Search Firms

Many years ago, the leading candidate in a university presidential search called and said it was essential that we meet to discuss an important issue. Parenthetically, we thought he wanted to tell us that he was gay, which we already knew, and which was a non-issue. His reason, however, was to tell me that an old lawsuit had become suddenly active during the middle of the presidential search process. We informed the chair of the search committee, who spoke directly with the candidate’s lawyer. The chair was convinced it was a frivolous suit. The candidate completed the search process, got the job, and was a successful president until his retirement, many years later. (Moral of this story: A good search consultant is invaluable.)

Chapter 8: Interviews

A smart, savvy candidate for a deanship has a proven secret for a successful Zoom interview. The night before her interviews, she checks into a hotel that has first-class Internet and fabulous food. She sequesters herself behind closed doors and has a mini-spa vacation away from the stress and distraction of work, family matters, pets, etc., so that she is rested, centered, prepared, and “Zoom-presentable” when the interview time rolls around. Brilliant!

Chapter 9: Closing the Deal: The Key to Success

The following are actual requests on candidate relocation checklists:
“Will you pay to move my wine cellar?
“Will you pay to move my Carnegie Hall concert grand Steinway?”
“How about moving my spouse’s antique car collection?”

Chapter 10: Transition Planning

We know a college president who took her position, fully recognizing that she would have to address serious deficits in the quality of some of her leadership team—she would definitely have to show them the door in order to open the door to a new era for the institution. She hired a coach to serve as her leadership transition counsel, working with her Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct some outside searches and work through a few internal re-assignments to build a high-performing leadership team.

Part II The Tactical Leadership Playbook

The Tactical Playbook is designed to help you develop your leadership capacity,
fitness, and savvy.

Chapter 1: Fundamental Guiding Principles

It is optimal to center yourself on these Fundamental Guiding Principles (See The Strategic Playbook, Chapter 1, p. 1) and to continually remind yourself of these principles as you undertake your tactical leadership fitness regimen.

Chapter 2: Finding the Fit

Cinderella’s stepsisters paid a life-altering price trying to make the glass slipper fit. It takes courage to walk away and say, “No.” Don’t make the same mistakes that Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters made.

Chapter 3: Equity, Inclusion, and Transformation

“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
— Maya Angelou

Chapter 4: Taking Inventory

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
— Zig Ciglar, American motivational speaker,
1926-2012

Chapter 5: Emotional and Social Intelligence (EI & SI)

“In a high-IQ pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emarge as outstanding.”
— Daniel Goleman

Chapter 6: Your Tool Kit

A. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Template and Examples
B. Cover Letter
Opening and Closing Paragraphs from Examples of Well-written Cover Letters
C. References
You should notify your references when the referencing process begins. Don’t let your references be blindsided.

Chapter 7: Search Firms

“In recruiting there are no good or bad experiences—just learning experiences.”
— Author Unknown

Chapter 8: Interviews

This is the time to sharpen your narrative and always be in control—continuously leading with Appreciative Inquiry.

Chapter 9: Closing the Deal: The Key to Success

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
— Anonymous

Chapter 10: Transition Planning

A good search person will tell you that a search is comprised of three parts: pre-search, the search itself, and post-search. We believe planning and executing an intentional transition leads to long-term success in whatever role you select. We believe these “Top Ten Tips” and the three examples following them are useful for any administrator to use as prospective templates. The transition is not just for presidents; it is for everyone.

Epilogue:

The Epilogue is the New Prologue