Francine Crystal (coaching)


Francine Crystal

Coaching Philosophy

We work with leaders in academic institutions who are looking to define or refine their leadership approach. These leaders need to respond creatively and strategically to significant tensions embedded in higher education, such as between honoring the institution’s past and creating its future, or between addressing the needs of particular constituencies and leading the entire institution. And they need to be mission-, vision- and value- driven in the face of competing political and economic forces, to balance institutional integrity with individual needs, to demonstrate calming confidence while inviting rich collaboration, and to be true to their own sense of self. That is a daunting charge. I’m honored to work with those faced with these challenges. I am fascinated to learn about a new client and institution and humbled by the ripple effects our work can have.

I bring two particular approaches to my work: developmental and systems. The developmental approach recognizes that the perspectives, practices and skills that have made someone successful in the past may not be sufficient for the present and the future. The systems approach recognizes that we are each influenced by and, in turn, have the opportunity to influence, our context. With these frameworks, clients increase their ability to reflect on and assess their current situation, use alternative strategies and tools for developing and implementing a vision, and increase the leadership capacity throughout their organization. A client recently said, at the end of our coaching relationship, “It is now less tiring being me.”


While initially working in government agencies and social benefit organizations, the opportunity to begin work at MIT in the late 90s led to a specialization in higher education. Since 2003, I have provided leadership coaching, team development, and strategic facilitation to dozens of higher education and social benefit organizations. Since 2012, as President of Crystal Clear Consulting, I’ve been part of a team working across the country to best support higher education leaders. Team members have a variety of specialties and certifications including ICF certification.

Levels Coached: Early-Career Professionals, Executive, President, Chancellor, Mid-Managers, Senior Executives, VP, Provosts, etc.

Industry Experience: Corporate, Government, Higher Education, Non-profit/NGO