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382: Transforming Lives: How Organizational Health Shapes the Christian Higher Ed Experience

382: Transforming Lives: How Organizational Health Shapes the Christian Higher Ed Experience

Dr. Steve Mason, president of LeTourneau University, shares about how to navigate cultural challenges while staying true to your mission, fostering trust in leadership, and cultivating a workplace that thrives with engaged employees.


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In this episode:

Establishing Organizational Health:

  • Dr. Steve Mason highlights how LeTourneau University made organizational health a mission-critical objective, signaling its importance within the institution. (05:23)
  • Teams were established and practical goals set to improve organizational health, emphasizing its priority to the entire campus. (06:11)
  • Measures such as a standing university committee and a cabinet-level position focused on campus and community engagement were implemented to foster continuous improvement. (06:53)

Employee Well-being Initiatives:

  • LeTourneau University introduced initiatives to support employee well-being, such as additional paid time-off days and recognition for community service hours. (08:18)
  • Feedback from surveys, including the Best Christian Workplace Employee Engagement Survey, informed decisions to enhance benefits like healthcare plans, demonstrating a commitment to employee satisfaction and fulfillment. (11:11)

Building Trust in Leadership:

  • Dr. Mason emphasizes the importance of trust and inclusion in leadership, citing the longevity of faculty and staff careers at the university as evidence of a supportive environment. (13:56)
  • Regular communication channels, including faculty meetings and personal interactions, were established to maintain open dialogue and strengthen relationships between leadership and faculty. (17:27)
  • The emphasis on authenticity and vulnerability in leadership fosters mutual trust and encourages a culture of transparency and collaboration. (17:51)

Encouragement for Leaders in Higher Education:

  • Dr. Mason encourages leaders to prioritize personal connections with their teams and to embrace vulnerability and authenticity in their leadership style. (19:58)
  • Building trust through personal relationships is seen as essential for navigating difficult conversations and fostering a culture of mutual support and growth. (22:17)
  • The importance of trusting in God's guidance and plans for the institution is highlighted as a source of reassurance and motivation for leaders amidst challenges and uncertainties. (24:36)

Continuous Improvement and Growth:

  • Dr. Mason emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, even after achieving a healthy workplace level. (28:48)
  • He discusses the need to identify areas for growth and maintain momentum in all aspects of organizational health. (29:18)

Leadership Development and Prioritization:

  • Dr. Mason highlights the importance of helping employees develop their skills and expertise. (29:25)
  • He acknowledges the challenges of shifting priorities and the need for ongoing leadership development. (30:47)

Integration of Athletics and Mission:

  • Dr. Mason explains how LeTourneau University integrates athletics into its mission and vision. (33:45)
  • He discusses structural changes made to elevate athletics within the institution and emphasizes the role of athletics in holistic student experiences. (35:20)

Navigating Social and Cultural Issues:

  • Dr. Mason discusses the challenges of navigating social and cultural issues while staying true to the university's Christian foundation. (38:35)
  • He emphasizes the importance of prayer, selecting mission-aligned trustees, and rigorous faculty hiring processes. (38:56)

Impact of Organizational Health:

  • Dr. Mason reflects on the correlation between organizational health and student, donor, and alumni experiences. (43:17)
  • He explains how a healthy workplace culture positively impacts sustainability and the future of the institution. (44:19)

Encouragement for Other Leaders:

  • Dr. Mason encourages other leaders to embrace the journey toward organizational health, despite potential challenges. (48:06)
  • He highlights the benefits of openness to feedback and the courage required to address areas of weakness. (48:22)


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