Researchers from every field recognize the value of an interdisciplinary approach that brings together scholars with diverse strengths to solve complex problems. Susan takes a similar approach to academic leadership by collaborating when it adds value for the client.
For over a decade, she has collaborated with CFAR-The Center for Applied Research, a management consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia and Boston, and CFAR principals Larry Hirschhorn and Barry Dornfeld.
Trained as an economist, Larry works from a multidisciplinary perspective. To answer the simple question “What’s going on here?” he considers quantitative financial data, operational realities of the enterprise, organizational culture, and the psychodynamics of the leadership team. Larry’s books include Reworking Authority and The Workplace Within (MIT Press, 1998 and 1990).
Barry advises profit and non-profit organizations, and is an expert on organizational culture and change, strategy, leadership and governance. He uses ethnographic skills to analyze challenges and engage groups and develop strategies for change. He is co-author of The Moment You Can’t Ignore: When Big Trouble Leads to a Great Future (PublicAffairs Books, 2014).
This question from the president of a liberal arts college led to a project where Susan coached the members of a leadership team, both individually and as a group. As a result of a nine-month project, the team members reported that they became more effective leaders of their own functional areas and they found collaborative efforts more productive and enjoyable.
This question from an experienced faculty member who had just been named provost of his institution led to a six-month coaching project focused on management, communication, team building and effectiveness at leading meetings. In weekly virtual sessions, Susan and the client tackled each of these objectives, using actual challenges the client was facing to reach each of the client’s goals.
This question from the trustees of a private liberal arts college led to a highly interactive project in which faculty and administrative leaders prepared systematically to welcome, orient and support a new president—and the new president was supported through her first months of a preparation for the development of a new strategic agenda. Susan coaches institutions and leaders through projects like this, lowering costs for the institution and increasing learning for all those involved.
This question from more than one president of private institutions led to executive coaching projects where Susan worked with a vice president to achieve goals identified in collaboration with the president to meet specific needs that were identified in some sort of negative review or observation. In most cases, impressive improvement brings about a type of new beginning for the vice president. In one case, however, a vice president realized that the fit was inadequate, and he moved on professionally. Typically, these coaching projects last about six months.
These two questions led to a new kind of academic leadership for the provost of a major research university. As a result of the collaboration, the provost changed the way she implemented her leadership, adopted new communication strategies, and linked several major planning initiatives to form a powerful comprehensive strategic project that led to a new definition of the academic profile of the institution. Goals like these could form the foundation of an excellent executive coaching relationship, where it is much better to grapple with the client’s real-world challenges than with fictional examples the coach might present.
This question from the president of a private research university led to a collaborative project in which faculty were encouraged and helped design the academic programs that will become the centerpiece of a major fundraising campaign, and the board was enlisted to support the program as well as participate in the campaign itself. Since its inception, the project has formed the centerpiece of the leader’s strategic agenda. [Susan is collaborating with CFAR-The Center for Applied Research (Philadelphia and Boston) on this project.]