3 Tips for Success

Inspirational Leadership

“It took me a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent” – Madeleine Albright.

Nicole Rovig with Madeleine Albright
I was delighted to hear Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, speak at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) when I was serving as a member of AACRAO’s Board of Directors. Reflecting upon her influential leadership style inspired me to share my voice and lessons learned while working as a top official for Michigan State University (MSU).

Inner Circle

Keep your trusted inner circle at work small. These are the handful of very special individuals who genuinely care for you, and are extremely loyal and trustworthy. They work diligently for you and intuitively know when to work behind the scenes and when to be overt. These individuals serve as your early warning system – detecting problems and issues before they arise. They always protect you and put you first.

Tip: Because the nature of the relationship is that of a true partnership, consistently give members of your inner circle your time, attention, and care.

Mid-Western Nice

Have you ever attended a meeting and thought, today must be opposite day? The idea proposed by an executive was disastrous. Yet, everyone in the room shook their heads “yes” in agreement, and even commented “good idea!” Yikes. After the meeting the back-channel political work begins  to undo this de facto decision. 

Remember people are not always comfortable saying “no” or giving honest feedback directly to you. They are nice people who are inherently drawn to the notion of being positive, collaborative, and supportive. Thus, they are much more comfortable saying “yes”, or giving positive feedback to you in the moment.

Tip:  Be nice to yourself and others – give meaningful, honest, objective, and direct feedback, as appropriate. Rely upon your inner circle and other networks to help you detect when others are truly behind you, or whether it’s a case of mid-western nice. Finally, pay attention to a room full of nodding heads. Seek to understand by asking probing questions such as tell me more about why you think this is a good idea, or share with me one concern you may have.

Starting Point

Stakeholders are anyone in your organization with whom you interact. Your stakeholders are incredibly diverse with a wide spectrum of perspectives and motivations. Everyone’s starting point is different. As you initiate a dialog, project, initiative, or even a meeting, try to think of the other person’s starting point. Practice Emotional Intelligence by actively listening, asking questions, and reflecting back what you think you hear. What is the person passionate about? What is their mantra? What are their spoken and unspoken needs? 

Tip: Get to know your stakeholders well. Know their strengths, weaknesses, perspective, passion, approach, and networks. Be deliberate about tailoring your communications and interactions to meet their starting point.


Take a moment to reflect on the following quote by Madeleine Albright: “It took me a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” How have you used your voice to lift up others, and to advocate for those who are not even in the room? Your comments and feedback are welcome! Feel free to “like” or share this post with others. 

Nicole Rovig Clear View of Lake Michigan

Nicole Rovig is an innovative executive in higher education hailed by institutions as “Collaborative…Innovative…a Thought Leader.” With more than 20 years of leadership experience at Michigan State University, Missouri State University, the University of Missouri, and the U.S. Army, and a Ph.D. from Saint Louis University, Rovig is known for her leadership in student success, organizational effectiveness, information technology, and enrollment services. When Rovig is not being a very busy and sought after administrator, she enjoys traveling, exercising, gardening, and experiencing nature.


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