Intentional Leadership: Interview With New Dean Richard Franza
Richard Franza, the recently appointed dean of Hull College of Business at Augusta University, shares his journey to dean and his subsequent views on leadership.
Next month, Richard Franza begins his new position as dean of the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University in Georgia. After more than a decade of advancements in administrative posts at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business, including his most recent role as senior associate dean, Franza has developed distinct leadership perspectives, which were further realized through his completion of AACSB’s three-part Leading in the Academic Enterprise Series®. He shares with us his journey to the dean role and his subsequent views on leadership.
- How has your perception of leadership changed after having attended AACSB's Leading in the Academic Enterprise Series? I have always believed that leaders are more born than made and that when they are made, it is more through their experiences than through education or training. While AACSB’s Leading in the Academic Enterprise Series® did not completely change my beliefs, it did cause me to modify them significantly. While I still don’t think leadership can be taught completely, the series showed me how we can make leadership more “intentional.” The skills and techniques taught in the series will definitely allow me to better exercise the leadership ability developed through prior experiences.
- What did you learn about yourself as a leader in your associate dean role? In my role as an associate dean, I learned that to be a better leader, you have to be a better follower. As the No. 2 person in an organization, you must set the standard for the rest of the organization for followership. While you may not always agree with the leader, you must be a good follower, as the leader does what is best for the organization. If you cannot do that, you cannot be an effective leader in your organization.
- How can business school leaders have influence in the broader institutional community? Business school leaders can best influence the broader institutional community by being collaborative and, while advocating for the business school, always doing what is best for the institution as a whole. Business schools often have the best opportunities to for generating revenues for the institution and developing job opportunities for its students, so bringing other colleges and schools in the institution along with you will help leaders of those units develop a similar mentality. However, when thinking about the institutional community, when you are part of a state system, you should not limit yourself to your campus. You should also be cognizant of how you can collaborate beyond your campus to your fellow state institutions to improve the overall return to the state.
- What are the most immediate leadership opportunities you plan to tackle as the new dean at Hull? There are a number of constituencies you serve as a dean, both internally and externally. My first goal is to lead internally by building trust and credibility with my faculty by meeting with them individually and collectively to ensure that they are deployed in a way that enhances their individual performance while also supporting the college mission.
- What are the best ways for new leaders to prepare for their roles? The best way to prepare for your new role is to be yourself and be humble. Authenticity and humility will go a long way with all of your constituencies. Prepare to be a good listener and a good learner. While your initial instinct will be to move quickly, you need to assess things first and move in an educated way. You need to learn about your internal capabilities and your external environment to be prepared to make strategic decisions. Learn about your people—co-administrators, faculty, staff—professionally, and learn about them personally. Our most valuable strategic asset in higher education is our people, so it is important to understand what they value and what they do well.
I definitely finished the series more aware of how to be a better leader through intentional deployment of what I learned. While I still believe much of our leadership ability is innate and developed through experience, this series clearly improves that ability.
Finally, although I also still believe leadership skills are transferable across industries, companies, and environments, this series also provides all of its scenarios and examples in the higher education domain, demonstrating that certain leadership skills are more critical in higher education.
Second, I learned the importance of accountability in leadership. It is critically important to step up when you make a mistake or something goes wrong and take responsibility. I always tell my children that “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” and this is especially true in leadership. The faster you can admit mistakes and work to fix them, the greater respect others will have for your leadership.
Externally, I think the Augusta, Georgia, business community is looking to the Hull College to provide leadership in many areas—talent provision, executive education, and relevant research.
Finally, I think it is important to lead increasing collaborations with our health sciences colleagues across campus to leverage each other’s expertise and brand.
Richard Franza is the recently appointed dean of Hull College of Business at Augusta University in Georgia.