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Interview: How Donde Plowman Leads With Strengths

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About the Leader

Donde Plowman

Donde PlowmanChancellor of the University of Tennessee

  • Strategic®
  • Achiever®
  • Positivity®
  • Futuristic®
  • Maximizer®

“There's no one set of strengths that makes you fantastic. The key is figuring out what yours are and then using them -- proudly.”


"It’s just always there."

Plowman has constant energy she uses to help others see the positive in the tasks before them.


“Strategic really helps me every single day keep focused on the north star.”

Leadership in academia is complex with many stakeholders. Plowman’s Strategic helps her understand how any action will affect relationships and outcomes.


"Sometimes it’s like I have to wake other people up."

With Futuristic, Plowman often finds herself inspiring others with visions of the future and developing powerful strategic visions meant to create positive disruption.


"I can be dangerous. I like to get things done quickly."

With seemingly inexhaustible energy to start and complete projects, Plowman drives productivity on her teams by encouraging action and cautioning against overplanning.


"I need their gifts in action."

Plowman recognizes that the teams she leads contain many strengths that could help make her strategic visions a reality, but to be effective, those strengths must be active. She often directly asks people to apply their strengths to a situation.