Leading in Times of Uncertainty and Change: Navigating 5 Common Leadership Tensions


Leading in Times of Uncertainty and Change: Navigating 5 Common Leadership Tensions


Check back soon—new dates will be announced shortly.

Build your capacity to lead through uncertainty and change.


Being a year into a global pandemic, your mode of leadership is likely moving from crisis management to sustained effort. Higher education leaders have been thrust into the spotlight supporting new policy development, academic schedule changes, remote work, and innovating for the future—all in an environment where information is scarce and uncertain. The complexity and ambiguity of navigating through this may create the following tensions in your leadership practice:

  • You prioritize urgent tasks at the expense of focusing on long-term planning and engagement.
  • You respond with expert guidance to the immediate need rather than stopping and asking how you might be able to collaborate with others to capitalize on new opportunities.
  • You strive to support and build up others and, in the process, forget to focus on your own goals.
  • You recognize there are high expectations for performance and are unsure how to sustain the high support that is also required.

Join us online for a six-week bootcamp that will allow you to examine your leadership style as it relates to navigating through the tensions mentioned above. Through a combination of self-assessments, peer-based learning, and group discussion, you’ll learn how to recognize when and how these tensions show up in your everyday practice and how they work together. More importantly, you’ll identify ways to avoid leading from the extremes and instead practice your leadership from a place of productive tension and balance. You will walk away from this bootcamp with an action plan that allows you to identify when and how to access both tensions to best serve you, so that they become assets rather than detractors.


A Highly Personalized Experience

Your registration for this bootcamp includes a 15-minute individual consultation with an instructor before the program begins. This time will be used to better understand your leadership challenges and context, so that the bootcamp experience can be tailored to your needs. To preserve the intimate and interactive nature of this training, the bootcamp is limited to 30 participants. Register early to reserve your spot!


Who Should Attend

This bootcamp is designed for those with at least 3-5 years of leadership experience, either formal or informal. As a seasoned professional, you’ll have the opportunity to share and discuss your experiences and challenges of leading through uncertainty and change. The examples and stories that will be shared by the instructors will be ideal for student services and enrollment leaders.


Follow Through With Success Coaching

Have you ever gone to a training only to find that you came back with great ideas but don’t have the time, support, or skills needed to make the changes?

Academic Impressions has produced thousands of trainings and we have learned that utilizing a coach after attending a conference helps provide accountability and bridges the training with the on-the-ground work of getting the job done. <

As a result, we are now offering success coaching on select conferences.

  • Purchase this training + 3 one hour follow up success coaching calls
  • Work with an assigned coach who has extensive experience in higher ed.
  • Get individualized support to help you follow through on what you’ve learned.
  • Workshop your plans, run your ideas by someone and get additional help/practice.

To learn more, contact Elizabeth Hubbell at elizabeth@academicimpressions.com or purchase the Bootcamp + Success Coaching product below.

Hear About the Bootcamp Experience

What You Will Get

  • Six 2-hour live sessions with interactive discussions and activities with your instructors and peers.
  • A 1:1 consultative session with an instructor before the bootcamp begins to learn more about you, so that the bootcamp can be customized to your needs.
  • Session-specific takeaway activities to extend your learning after the bootcamp
  • A comprehensive resource workbook.
  • A written action and accountability plan that you will work on throughout the program to help you identify ways to find balance and thrive within each of the tensions.

“Outstanding speakers, friendly attendees and lovely accommodations. Academic Impressions was extra interested in making sure everyone was having a great experience. Great job!”

Tracy Deer-Mirek

Director of Communications, Sacred Heart University

“This was a wonderful, innovative experience. Great ideas and resources were shared by participants and presenters. High energy and an overall wonderful learning experience.

Marisol Marrero

Executive Director of StudentLink Centers, New York University

“I was so impressed with Academic Impressions that I cannot wait to recommend these trainings to colleagues and bring Academic Impressions to my institution!”

Kristin Miller

Director of Advancement, College of Visual and Performing Arts, NIU Foundation


Session 1: Survive vs. Thrive

June 3, 2021 from 1pm – 3pm ET

This first session will provide you with a chance to reflect on the events of the past year and begin to create greater meaning in your work by exploring the “survive vs. thrive” duality.

Key questions you will explore:

  • How do you recognize when you are experiencing your work in a state of survival rather than thriving?
  • What tactics can be used to help you move from a surviving to a thriving mental state?
  • How can you and your team access the benefits of both mindsets over time, especially considering different rates of adaptation to change?
  • What dimension does diversity play in helping or hindering movement between survive and thrive?



Session 2: Expediency vs. Empowerment

June 10, 2021 from 1pm – 3pm ET

Crisis-related decision-making requires decisive action, generally from a command-and-control perspective. As the COVID-19 pandemic is primed to continue impacting your work into the future, you must also focus your attention on adapting to the new conditions.

Key questions you will explore:

  • How do you manage effectively when everything on your “to-do” list is in the urgent/important quadrant?
  • How do you get your staff and colleagues re-engaged and shift focus to authentic participation and empowered decision-making?
  • How do you offer meaningful opportunities for consultation and engagement when some decisions are still being led by emergency health and safety orders?



Session 3: Responder vs. Convener

June 17, 2021 from 1pm – 3pm ET

In times of crisis, each unit and its staff are called upon to respond quickly and effectively to the most emergent needs of the community through expert knowledge and support. But crisis also presents an opportunity to shift from the role of responder to convenor of collaboration on the most important work.

Key questions you will explore:

  • How can you use this moment in time to add additional value to your organization as a leader and convenor, not just a responder?
  • How can you leverage your unique perspectives and history as an expert resource to move in the direction of convenor and influencer?
  • How can you walk the line between these two important roles effectively?
  • What role does identity and intersectionality play in being an effective convenor of work and discussion?



Session 4: High Expectations vs. High Support

June 24, 2021 from 1pm – 3pm ET

As a leader, you set the vision and direction for your team to achieve great things. We know that it is possible to have high expectations for your team and still provide a high level of care and support, and in fact, you cannot have one without the other. This session will explore the specific skills and approaches required to manage both of these needs, such as effective communication, leveraging diversity, and connecting to vision.

Key questions you will explore:

  • How can you set an inspiring vision for your team that achieves amazing outcomes and respects the diverse nature of the people with whom you work?
  • How can you establish and set high expectations that foster buy-in with your team?
  • What does it look like to create a high level of support for your team?
  • What does fostering productive support for your team look like when the high expectations are coming from external sources? How do you help your team meet these expectations without burnout at the end?



Session 5: Self-Reliance vs. Amplification of Others

July 8, 2021 from 1pm – 3pm ET

As a leader, you may be told that you need to be fully self-reliant and independent to be successful. On the other hand, you might also be told that you need to amplify the work and development of others to create high-performing teams. This session will focus on how you can ensure that you are both the builder and amplifier of others’ work and words without losing sight of your individual goals.

Key questions you will explore:

  • What is your default style in times of stress and how does that default serve you in the short and long term?
  • Are there gender and identity elements at play in this tension? If so, how do these inform how you approach or leverage the useful aspects of both amplification and self-reliance?



Session 6: Capstone

July 15, 2021 from 1pm – 3pm ET

Since the five productive tensions are interrelated and connected to each other, this capstone session will bring them together to show you how they can co-exist and enhance one another when understood and applied thoughtfully. By the end of the session, you will finalize your individual action and accountability plan to help you leverage the full potential of these tensions and help you increase your leadership capacity.

Key questions you will explore:

  • What changes in yourself and your leadership have you noticed since beginning the bootcamp?
  • In what ways do you find you are better able to manage oppositional tensions?
  • What new ideas have you tried over the past six weeks that worked or didn’t work and how will that inform your leadership practice moving forward?


Portrait of Melissa Padfield

Melissa Padfield

Vice Provost and University Registrar, University of Alberta

Melissa has 20 years of experience working in higher education having held various roles within student affairs and academic administration. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a certificate in Globalization and Governance from the University of Alberta and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Victoria.

Read Melissa's Full Bio.

Portrait of Norma Rodenburg

Norma Rodenburg

Interim Deputy Registrar, University of Alberta

Norma has 20 years of experience in a diverse range of student affairs positions. In her current role, she oversees a diverse portfolio of administrative and student services functions, recently having led the development of the strategic plan.

Read Norma's Full Bio.


Questions About the Event?

Portrait of Lisa Lafflam

Lisa Lafflam
Instructional Designer, Academic Impressions

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*All-inclusive members receive $250 off of conference registrations (in addition to the early bird discount if applicable).