Academic departments

Healthy Conflict and an Esprit de CorpsNone of this can happen without leadership beyond the department, encouraging the right people to act in the right ways. In Michigan English, the college leadership walked the talk, and two superb chairs — who also had friendships that crossed boundaries and who practiced integrity like master musicians — patiently eased the conflicts. The first used his naturally diplomatic manner and his obvious goodwill to dissolve the warring camps. The second inspired us with calmly and honestly stated high goals that people beyond the college came to respect. Neither ever lied. Each knew how to say two magic words when they made a decision that didn’t work out: “I’m sorry.” But because they were both remarkably strategic as well as fine, they did not have to say that very often.They left me, as their successor, with a department full of healthy conflict within a context of great esprit de corps.

Source: How to avoid dysfunctional academic departments (essay)

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