by Paul Casey

My Takeaways from a University President Interview

I had the privilege this year to interview Beck Taylor, the president of Whitworth University in Spokane, where my son attends.  It is my habit for professional development to take a leader that I respect to lunch or coffee about once a month, to continue growing in my leadership skills. I was gratified to receive an audience with Beck, and his down-to-earth style and love for the students came blazing through the conversation. I was armed with a bunch of questions and here were my takeaways:

  • Beck sets his priorities and makes them known to his core team. He has a weekly calendar meeting with his staff AND his wife.
  • He makes work obligations into family obligations whenever possible, to stay connected to his wife despite the pull toward a work-life balance struggle. Their marriage agreement is no stretch of 3 nights in a row with a work commitment. He strives to assure he is creating a community that values Family.
  • He spend about 5 hours every morning in quiet before his first appointment. That’s from 4:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m.! He reads the Bible, prays, reads, addresses correspondence, and sets his day up for success.
  • He chooses a book to read with his senior leadership team, and stayed connected through industry periodicals and news sources.
  • His favorite annual restorative commitment is 3 days in Colorado with 10 other university presidents and their spouses to talk spiritual life/family life/physical life, for accountability.
  • To decide what he says YES to with regards to community involvement, he asks himself, How does this opportunity advance the institution I lead?
  • He believes great leaders are great storytellers.
  • He sees his role as combining disparate individuals/groups into a unified vision done with excellence.

Who do you admire that you need to invite to lunch/coffee, to pepper with questions and glean leadership principles that you can transfer to your situation?



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