Book by Suzette Lovely
Review by Lisa Jamba
Instructor/Advisor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences
University of North Florida
According to Suzette Lovely, I am on the verge of becoming an “Urgentaholic.” I am undoubtedly not alone; many academic advisors may find similar results after taking the self-assessment “Adrenaline Addiction Predictors” (p. 69) in Lovely’s handbook for educational leaders. Fortunately, Lovely offers many solutions and strategies for those of us who need help recognizing and reshaping our counterproductive work habits. Urgentaholics can benefit from posting the sidebar “What Constitutes a Bona Fide Emergency” (p. 72) on our walls for quick reference when faced with “urgent” interruptions. Most of us will find that few of our daily issues meet the criteria; therefore we need to adjust our reactions to maintain sanity and focus.
Throughout this book Lovely provides a compelling argument that education leaders are trying to do too much and need to 'delegate without guilt' (chapter 4) some of their responsibilities or learn to say 'no' (chapter 2) when approached with additional assignments. The advisor who feels overwhelmed at work will find that this book is a wake-up call; Lovely offers a plentitude of strategies to prevent burnout on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
An important and often reiterated concept within this book is that time has value and should be “preserved”. Advisors, like others within education, have many stakeholders expecting use of their time, but, as the author illustrates, we can regain control of how our time is consumed. She provides excellent tips on how to do this, e.g. minimizing interruptions, setting goals, avoiding trivial tasks and shortening meetings (chapter 3). We're reminded of our need to learn how to use technology to our benefit, know when to be off limits to focus on an important assignment, and when to disconnect from work to reenergize ourselves and pay attention to our personal needs. I'll remember this the next time one of my students follows me into the restroom to ask a ”quick question”!
Although the author's intended audience is K-12 leaders, the work environment issues she addresses apply equally to higher education institutions. She provides examples of leaders who successfully implement good practices in not only educational systems but also in arenas such as athletics and retail. This book's simple format, brevity, and appendices -- including the personal inventories and lessons -- add to its appeal. Whether leading a team or as a member of one, academic advisors who want to reflect on their work style strengths and weaknesses will benefit from this book.
Setting Leadership Priorities: What's Necessary, What's Nice, and What's Got to Go. (2005). Book by Suzette Lovely. Review by Lisa Jamba. Corwin Press. 128 pp., $24.95. ISBN # 1-4129-1576-7