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Fundamental Roles of an Auxiliary Director

by David Sullivan, Senior Advisor, SPARC

“I am always in the middle!”

As auxiliary leaders you may find yourselves existing somewhere in the middle of your school’s organization. Leading from the middle can be a very challenging and stressful place as you are pulled in many directions. The middle also provides an opportunity to meaningfully impact your organization in every direction. Below are four ways to conceptualize the jobs you are doing as an Auxiliary Director.

The Translator: You translate the organization’s/head’s highest priorities into actions and systems that get the desired results. Make sure your team understands the purpose and the “why”. Conversely, you must also translate the reality, resources and steps needed, as well as the needs of the auxiliary team, to senior leadership. What matters above you? What matters below you?

The Coach: You recruit talent, build a team, and develop people—not just below, but also above. Sometimes you “coach up” to senior leadership by fostering understanding and support, offering perspective, and sometimes acting as a necessary truth teller. You may find yourself coaching peers in other departments as well: encouraging their improvement as teammates to reach the school’s collective objectives.

The Builder: You create programming and are accountable for getting it done. You will need to balance execution (quality, safety, profit, etc.) against goals and objectives while keeping to a timeline. Similar to how a builder is accountable to others (clients, architect, inspectors, codes, best practices, laws of physics, etc.), a Director often needs to work with others within the organization to be successful. In the end, getting a job done is the measure of success, often without recognition of all that you accomplished during the process.

And most applicable to Auxiliary Directors and schools…

The Fixer: Auxiliary solves problems. Like it or not, auxiliary and summer programs often end up fixing mistakes or compensating for the shortcomings of other departments. You will see where the pinch points are—often more keenly than any other department. That unique perspective can be maddening but it is also privileged and could be leveraged. It is privileged because you will often have knowledge about your organization that few others may have. As you solve problems for others (which you are happy to do because you are a team player and competent), you can leverage that by reminding them of the ways you need their help and support for something important to you.


If this resonates with you and you’d like personalized support in your role, speak to SPARC about our leadership mentoring services. David Sullivan has presented frequently on leadership and leading from the  middle.

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