October 15 Day 221: How Do We Lead?

Mathematical Association of America’s Board of Directors met virtually. I had the pleasure of leading the kick-off activity. There is a tacit assumption that

Board Member = Leader.

But in fact, leadership has nothing to do with title, position, or authority. I really like Kevin Kruse’s definition:

Leadership:  A process of social influence that maximizes
the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal.

So how do we, members of the MAA Board, become better leaders? As mathematicians, it is not really something we have been trained in. As professional volunteers with fulltime positions elsewhere, it is not something that we have time to learn. And in general, I am loath to ask board members to do more than they already are.

Instead, we need to recognize that leadership is expected from us—understand our strengths, influence, and motivation—and act purposefully in alignment with a goal to empower others. So I asked everyone to name the goal or goals that center(s) their work for the MAA, then connect those goals to the association’s values of community, inclusivity, communication, and teaching & learning, and finally identify what actions can be taken personally to influence others towards achievement.

I think it went well.

Inside baseball: Amazing news from Tensia Soto and meetings management. Virtual JMM 2021 (originally scheduled in the Eastern Time zone) is adjusting the schedule to align with Mountain Time. This is huge and makes the meeting more welcoming for mathematicians in located in a more westerly direction.

Fun Fact: If you deal 2 cards from a standard deck of 52 cards, there is a one in 221 chance of getting a pair of aces. It has been 221 days since this crazy, mixed-up, pandemic episode began.

Photo by Joe Ng on Pexels.com

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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