Leadership : Up Close and Personal

Vol. 12, No. 1
ISSN: 1546-2676

Guest Editors: 
Virginia L. Clark & Frances E. Andrews

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Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM,
Vol. 12, No. 1. 
1546-2676. Editor: Dorothy I. Mitstifer. Official publication of Kappa Omicron Nu National Honor Society. Member, Association of College Honor Societies. Copyright © 2000. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM is a refereed, semi-annual publication serving the profession of family and consumer sciences. The opinions expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the society. Further information: Kappa Omicron Nu, PO Box 798, Okemos, MI 48805-0798. Telephone: (727) 940-2658 ext. 2003

Interested in submitting an article to KON FORUM? Papers are now being accepted for review.


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Kappa Omicron Nu


Personal Turning Points

Karen Craig

Dr. Craig is Dean Emeritus, College of Human Resources and Family Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Recognizing that I had the capacity to be a leader. Until I was a graduate student at Purdue I didn’t know that I had special thinking and creativity skills. So the first point for me was learning that I had the capacity to lead. Two faculty members identified me as someone who might make a difference. “Making a difference” has driven my motivation for leadership roles ever since.

Circumstances. Four years into my first faculty position, the department chair resigned, and I was asked to serve as interim chair. I realized I liked the role and applied for the position. At that time I was a newly tenured Associate Professor. Two years later I was accepted as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. After my year in the program I was hired to work in the Provost’s Office. I was good at the work but did not enjoy it. So I decided to go back to a faculty role and develop my credentials for the dean’s role. During this time I found that I liked to provide leadership for a program, but I didn’t really like being the point person.

Making a difference. I struggle with internal conflict constantly in leadership roles. Although I believe I have skills for dealing with problems, I don’t like the “trappings” of designated leader roles. I care a great deal about what happens to programs and people. I even like the planning and detail work of the dean’s role. I do not like the up-front activities and the networking that are believed to be essential to leadership roles.

Husband and Children. Finally, but really first, my husband has made it possible for me to be involved in leadership efforts. He is supportive of what I do. It has probably caused his world to be less satisfactory because I don’t do lots of the social things he might want to do. Nonetheless, he has encouraged me to do what is necessary. The children gave their support as well. I know that I was not the nurturing mother they might have wanted, but they seldom complained.

I believe a successful leader must seek to make a difference and be able to get things done. Although my preference was for the behind-the-scenes work, the public facets of the role have to be accomplished for each program. In my case, this role was delegated. I believe it is possible, especially in the leadership styles for the new millennium, to be successful if leaders are true to their own internal styles and integrity and choose colleagues that can complement their qualities.