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Podcast #14: An Interview with Michael Ford

In the last episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast, we talked about “Ten Ways We Can Lead Better” as teachers, coaches, and parents. Today, I want to switch gears and talk with our special guest, Michael Ford who is the Associate Dean of Campus Life at Wake Forest University. You may be surprised to learn who Mike’s parents are. Gerald Ford and Betty Ford; the former President of the United States and his wife, a leader in the women’s equality movement.

Mike has been sharing his expertise at “Work Forest” as he calls it for 32 years. He has witnessed three generations of students on campus and has tremendous wisdom in developing young leaders. He has worked on the frontline with students, leading the way for student growth opportunities through various event outlets.

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Key Insights from Mike about leading Generation iY students

  1. Students today are programmed for a fast paced culture- We need to help them learn how to be alone (without technology), in order to sit/reflect/listen to what their heart is telling them and to insights from others.
  2. Students today are ambitious. They want to make a difference, take initiative, and make their mark. They’re always looking for a sense of approval and affirmation. We need to mentor and encourage them to spread their wings and fly.
  3. Students today lack commitment- They like to keep their options open and are hesitant to jump in and commit. We must help them follow through on committing and staying committed even when the glitz and glamour are gone.

Leadership Lessons from Mike’s Parents: Gerald and Betty Ford

  • Rise to the challenge in the face of unanticipated opportunity. Gerald Ford stepped up to be the 38th President of the United States, in one of the most difficult times this country has faced following the Watergate Scandal and Richard Nixon’s resignation. He transitioned the position from Imperial Presidency to Open Presidency, where he addressed issues with the people and gained their trust as the leader.
  • Be morally courageous, trust-worthy, and transparent in leadership
  • Build strong relationships with co-workers. Learn how to disagree in a healthy manner and build bridges to reach policy decisions.

Best Practices at Wake Forest University working with leaders

  • Think in terms of a leadership culture
  • Focus on relationships, not programs
  • Empower students to find their passion and calling. Do this by asking them, “When do you find yourself feeling most alive?”
  • Move from Control to Connected

Mike’s favorite piece of advice for Students and Leaders: Be Authentic

Announcements:

Check out Growing Leaders. If you’re new to the podcast or blog, visit our website to learn more about the resources Growing Leaders offers to equip those who lead the next generation.

What topic would you like for us to address on the next episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast? Leave a comment.

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Podcast #14: An Interview with Michael Ford