Higher Education Technology Administrators as Relational Leaders

Higher Education Technology Administrators as Relational Leaders

Todd Britton (University of La Verne, USA) and Laura Hyatt (University of La Verne, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7769-0.ch004

Abstract

This chapter focused on the key relational leadership practices that are significant to higher education technology leaders now and in the future. The methods employed were a literature review of over 200 publications derived from peer reviewed as well as publicly accessible documents which detailed responsibilities such as job descriptions and position announcements culled from higher education institutions where the titles ranged from technology administrator to vice president of information technology. The analysis showed connections between higher education technology administrators and relational leadership and revealed five central practices. The results of this research benefit higher education technology administrators and the institutions they serve.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Today’s institutions of higher education are facing increasing scrutiny, particularly in regard to their value and their ability to turn out better, more capable, employment-ready graduates. At the same time, these institutions face continuing challenges, such as shrinking budgets (Blankenberger & Phillips, 2016; Memba & Feng, 2016), changing enrollment demographics (Becker, Cummins, Davis, Freeman, Glesinger Hall, & Ananthanarayanan, 2017; Torres, Rochmes, & Harding, 2017), and a reduced workforce (Gast, Werner, & Kraus, 2017; Maume & Wilson, 2014). In response, higher education technology administrators (HETAs) are seeking innovative ways to better serve their institutions.

HETAs must be responsive to the ever-changing nature of technology. As administrators and leaders, they are also responsible for the relational aspects of managing personnel. Relationship-oriented (or relationship-focused) leadership is a behavioral approach in which the leader focuses on the satisfaction, motivation, and well-being of team members. Contemporary theorists (Endres & Weibler, 2016; Uhl-Bien, 2011; Uhl-Bien, Maslyn, & Ospina, 2012) advance relational leadership as a means and method to achieve higher levels of employee productivity and satisfaction. Literature that explores the role of the HETA relative to the concept of relational leadership theory is sparse.

The purpose of this chapter is to review the relational leadership literature to identify emerging themes that align with HETAs. HETAs are defined as leaders in a higher education setting who are primarily responsible for the strategic and tactical operation of the institution’s technology. They often have direct responsibility for both administrative related and academically associated technologies in use by and for students, faculty, and staff. Traditionally, HETAs, regardless of industry, were independent in nature, deriving their power from their position or status within the organization. More recently, they have become increasingly aware of the need for and benefits of a more relational role. This enhanced awareness is in part due to the increased use of technology across all disciplines in academe (Orr & Bennett, 2017).

This chapter articulates a leadership perspective not usually associated with those responsible for leading technology initiatives. This view includes social constructionist linkages between and among its supporters as the basis for human connectedness (Gergen, 2004; Hosking & McNamee, 2006; Hyatt, & Allen, 2018; Rosile, Boje, & Claw, 2016; Uhl-Bien, 2011). Knowledge about the world and the world itself are both constructed and reconstructed continuously through personal experiences and social interactions. Because these exchanges encourage individuals to make meaning together, it allows leaders to reshape and reform interactions and to purposely build and further develop tomorrow’s leaders. A more relational-oriented style will bridge generational gaps and move workers and the organization to higher levels of achievement.

HETAs have traditionally focused more on technology than leadership, though they are still able to engage technology workers on a meaningful level. Doing so will ensure a healthy workforce. By leveraging a relational focus, HETAs will be poised for the future, which will include recruiting, training, and engaging technology workers. As the culture of an organization is one of the hardest things to change (Bass & Riggio, 2006; Watkins & Dirani, 2013), relational leadership becomes more instrumental as a culture change agent. This chapter emphasizes relational leadership (Hosking, 2011; Uhl-Bien, 2011) as a means of engaging employees and improving organizational culture and suggests that it be considered as a critical aspect of leadership.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Higher Education: All education beyond the secondary level leading to a formal degree inclusive of universities and colleges.

Relational Leader Practices: The five identified practices of being communicative, authentic, relational, collaborative, and team-oriented. These practices enable enhanced outcomes and higher levels of employee and organizational productivity, as well as a more profound understanding between leaders and employees.

Higher Education Technology Administrators (HETAs): Leaders in a higher education setting who are primarily responsible for the strategic and tactical operation of the institution’s technology. They often have direct responsibility for administrative and academically associated technologies in use by and for students, faculty, and staff.

Social Constructionism: The notion that knowledge about the world and the world itself are both constructed and reconstructed continuously through personal experiences and social interactions. This co-creation of reality encourages individuals to make meaning together, which allows leaders to reshape and reform interactions for enhanced outcomes.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset