Profiles in Strengths: Dr. Osaro O. Ighodaro, Vice President of Student Development
Dr. Osaro O. Ighodaro, Vice President of Student Development
Question: Were you familiar with Strengths before coming to SMCC?
Answer: Yes, I was familiar with Strengths before coming to SMCC. To some extent, one could say I have been familiar with Strengths since I first competed in sports using individual strengths to complement others on a team to propel the team to excellence. Put simply, sports are about matching individual talents and potential to reach individual and team excellence. A more nascent and explicit familiarity came in three pivotal experiences from 2009-2012: As part of the MCCCD Leadership Advancement Program in 2009; in 2010 while on the leadership team at Glendale Community College; and in 2011 when 60 administrators were selected from across the nation to participate in the National Association Student Affairs Administrators’ (NASPA) new Senior Student Affairs Officers Institute.
Question: How have you continued developing your understanding and application of the concepts since coming to SMCC?
Answer: I have continued to deepen my understanding of strengths since coming to SMCC. That the college is a Strengths-based college is of tremendous import. It means that, like my experience in sports over three decades, the college fervently believes that students, staff, faculty and administrators are at their best when they approach their daily lives from a strengths-based prism. Many opportunities, such as Strengths for Managers, have been tremendously helpful not only in understanding one’s own strengths, but perhaps equally important is how those Strengths intersect and work in concert with those of others to create a richer teaching and learning environment. At varying junctures (meeting with a student, a faculty colleague, one of my staff colleagues in Student Development, at any of our college Shared Governance or council meetings, in individual meetings with one of my administrative colleagues, or in our college Executive meetings each week), invariably Strengths is part of the discussion. At times, it IS the discussion. In those situations, I am afforded numerous opportunities to deepen my understanding and glean valuable insights from others. Additionally, the import of Strengths in terms of holistic wellbeing cannot be overstated.
Question: You have a large and very diverse team. Which themes or talents do you call upon most when you’re leading such a cross-functional group on so many diverse projects?
Answer: This really depends on the context, the project, and the colleagues I am working with at a given time. The Relator, Strategic and Positivity strengths are those I call upon most often. When working with students, faculty, staff from other divisions of the college and other stakeholders from other colleges and or District, the occasion will influence what Strengths I call upon. Yet, it is fair to say that I am using my top Strengths continuously. I should add that the diversity of my colleagues in Student Development is reflective of the diversity of our student population, and the attendant diverse Strengths of my colleagues helps us meet the needs of our students daily.
Question: What Strength that is not in your top five or 10 do you most admire in others?
Answer: I admire Woo in others. When I have observed individuals with this talent using it in personal or professional contexts, it enlivens the situation and the souls of those around them. Going back to the reference to sports teams, when members of the team intuitively feel that they matter to the whole, they bring their best selves into the circle, bringing harmony and equanimity to the team, and the team is the better as a result. Since coming to SMCC, when I have observed individuals (students, colleagues, and in my personal life) for whom Woo is a top strength, invariably (in their own way) they engage others in a manner that “pours unto” others. Thus, they are able to influence others to give of themselves at a heightened level.