Leader, Beware of Failing to Give People a Voice

John Sexton, the president of New York University, is been aggressively expanding NYU at home and abroad.  Now the faculty of NYU’s largest school, Arts and Sciences, have scheduled a no-confidence vote on Sexton.  An article in yesterday’s New York Times entitled “A Test of Leadership at NYU,” described the no-confidence vote as coming about because dissident faculty felt Sexton was acting like a maverick CEO.  How did this happen?  It appears that Sexton’s mistake was failing to give faculty a voice in major decision-making and failing to address their legitimate concerns such as increased teaching loads that require travel abroad and the impact of the expansion on student-teacher ratios. “Voice” is one of the three elements in a Connection Culture (the others are Vision and Value).  When a leader fails to give people a voice in decisions that affect them, he or she runs the risk that some people will organize and seek to have the leader replaced.  This article describes that scenario.  Note in the article that one astute observer comments: “had more faculty been involved in the process…few if any professors [would be actively opposing Sexton].”

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