Talking Leadership on The Paul Finebaum Show
Last week, ahead of UT’s historic win over the University of Alabama, I sat down with fellow Vol and journalist Paul Finebaum on the radio and television show he hosts. I always appreciate invitations to talk about UT, but it was especially meaningful to be asked by one of our alumni.
His first question to me wasn’t a question at all. Instead, it was a reflection on the crossroads we faced in our athletic department nearly two years ago and the leadership challenges that followed.
I told him that leaders don’t always get to pick the issues that come our way, and no one is ever prepared for the hard stuff. I have always tried to seek out—sometimes quietly—good counsel and then do what I think is right.
Whether we are called upon to lead through difficult personnel decisions, an unprecedented global pandemic, or organizational change, leaders cannot prepare for every scenario. The best thing we can do is (1) know our own values that will help guide our actions, (2) surround ourselves with a strong team who will help us think through the issues and possible steps forward, and (3) be willing to act decisively.
I told Paul the same thing I said during the Flagship Address—that it’s always hardest to act when you’re acting alone. I didn’t feel alone in January of 2021 and, in fact, I have never felt alone in leading this university. I have always felt confident in the guidance of President Randy Boyd, our campus advisory board, the Board of Trustees, and the campus leaders I work with every day.
I greatly appreciate not only Paul’s invitation to join him on the show but his thoughtful questions and fun, curious dialogue around topics that are important to me. I also appreciate his support for his alma mater and the way he is always willing to mentor our journalism students when he returns to campus.
I want all our alumni to be proud of our university and the incredible successes we are having—on the field and off. This has been a banner year for research, student success, enrollment, annual giving, and state support. Let’s keep that momentum going.
You can watch the full interview below.