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#2: Interview with University President and Ret. Lt. Gen Robert (Bob) Caslen

April 29, 2020

Persevere in the Face of Opposition with Ret. Lt. Gen. Robert (Bob) Caslen


Today’s episode features Ret. Lt. Gen. Robert (Bob) Caslen. Caslen is the current University of South Carolina President, he served 43 years in the U.S. Army, and is the former Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Rarely leaders’ step into a position with unanimous support, Caslen will discuss how he overcame strong opposition during the hiring process to become the President for University of South Carolina. Our host, Dr. Eric Bean brings out tips and stories from Caslen on how a leader can be resilient, improve buy-in, and create a strong collaborative culture even in an unsupportive environment. To learn more about building your winning work culture, reach out to higherechelon.com.

NOTE: This episode was recorded prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

Episode Highlights:

  • Caslen faced strong opposition during the hiring process for University of South Carolina President
  • Character is a set of values that you embrace and define you
  • Selflessness is critical for effective leadership
  • Honor is to embrace the integrity to do the right thing when no one is looking in both your personal and professional life
  • Make the case why winning is important, create a culture of winning, live a life of excellence
  • Perform to the upper level of your potential in everything that you do; perform well, consistently
  • Strive for excellence and success will naturally happen
  • Build a culture of winning by rewarding excellence
  • The opposite of average or mediocrity is excellence
  • A leader needs to lead change by articulating a purpose and vision, put the plan in place, assess and make changes to move in the direction you want
  • How to work through oppositions and face critics that you have regular contact with, in order to do your job
  • Be transparent and collaborate to unify the group and secure buy-in
  • Transparency, engagement, and communication
  • You’re always part of someone else’s team, leaders need to earn their bosses trust and be able to understand when the boss wants the subordinate’s subject matter expertise and when your boss has made a decision and wants the subordinate to understand the decision and execute it
  • Culture needs to align and support strategy in order to achieve excellence

Resources Mentioned:

  1. From Good to Great Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  2. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey

Caslen’s Upcoming Book:

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To learn more on how you can take your leadership to the next level, check out our service offerings: Resilient and Adaptable Leadership, Executive Coaching, and Change Management.

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