In my role as Unit Coordinator and sub dean of nursing I have observed that coordinators are so consumed by the role that it becomes their world. Many lose sight of how a unit connects with the rest of the curriculum and they run out of energy to investigate it. Unit Coordinators often miss opportunities to contribute and to help their peers, so I encourage frequent meetings to reconnect coordinators with one another and the course as a whole. I also advise Unit Coordinators to engage with the university’s strategic plan to help their understanding of the context and rationale for their work.
I was fortunate in my early days on campus to have an excellent leader who sent a strong message that her team was precious to her. She recognised my ability, interest and passion and nurtured them by handing me autonomy and decision making. She was a good delegator, demonstrated by asking her team about their perceptions of the challenges we faced and who of us wanted to take responsibility for addressing them. We were a small team and she pulled us together. I applied her example with my teams later on in my career.
When I became a Unit Coordinator my key issues surfaced when I asked colleagues to contribute to my unit. Sometimes they declined or let me down at the last minute. Because I did not know how to handle them, I felt uncertain and angry. As I became more senior and experienced, I realised that my university’s policies would help to keep me out of trouble if I aligned myself with them. This led me to develop an interest in policies; about their content; the guidelines they prescribed and the rules they embraced. I started challenging the policy creators and, eventually, became known as an expert whose opinion they sought. I felt empowered to give advice and, as a result, rose above the everyday operational concerns about my unit.
My sense of self has altered and the fact that people increasingly sought my advice helped me feel like a leader. The questions they asked led me to do my own research, which added to my knowledge base and gave me the confidence to take more risks. I became accomplished at using the e-learning space and initiated on-line discussions, with explicit boundaries, that stimulated quality outcomes. I built assessments around this medium and told students this was in place of attending classes. They could not believe it. I get great satisfaction from watching my students learn through the initiatives I have put in place.