Among the respon­si­bil­i­ties of every leader, says Joseph Aoun, is to become increas­ingly irrel­e­vant. That sounds like an odd tip, but it’s one I’m inclined to take seri­ously given Aoun’s track record as pres­i­dent of North­eastern University.

Before I give Aoun a chance to explain what he means, let me share just a few of the things he’s accom­plished since taking the helm of my alma mater in 2006:

- The school has risen in the U.S. News & World Report rank­ings of the nation’s best col­leges from 96 to 49 (U.S. News says that’s an unprece­dented gain in so short a period of time).
– NU has trans­formed an old, dull insti­tu­tional campus into a cutting-​​edge, eco award-​​winning model of urban beauty.
– The uni­ver­sity has recruited more than 400 tenured and tenure-​​track fac­ulty over the past seven years.
– NU has become one of the most com­pet­i­tive uni­ver­si­ties in the nation. It received nearly 50,000 appli­ca­tions for just 2,800 seats in this fall’s freshman class. The quality met­rics asso­ci­ated with these stu­dents are the highest in the university’s history.

I wanted to know how this change agent has instilled an entre­pre­neurial mindset throughout the 116-​​year-​​old insti­tu­tion, and achieved such remark­able suc­cess in so short a period of time. I also wanted spe­cific tips that you, the Inc. reader, could apply to your organization.

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