(Re) Defining Leadership in Higher Education in the U.S.

(Re) Defining Leadership in Higher Education in the U.S.

Catherine H. Monaghan (Cleveland State University, USA) and Marius Boboc (Cleveland State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch040
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Abstract

Any attempt to operationalize the concepts of strategic leadership and management has to take into account contextual factors that help shape them including the current level of interplay demonstrated in a variety of business and academic fields. Today's information society has particular characteristics that extend some of the leadership principles that evolved into authentic, distributive, or visionary strands. While the business world and higher education represent realms that are significantly different from one another, allowing them to support each other would benefit CEOs, Board Members, and college and university administration alike in terms of supporting societal change in a convergent manner.
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Introduction

Higher education has become the focus of intense conversations recently, as accountability gained traction in various social, political, and economic circles. The worth of a college degree, rising costs, increasing student debt, relevance of curricula to career readiness, all have been at the forefront of considerations being made with regard to state budget allocations to higher education. The shift to a global society guided by information-driven, post-industrial characteristics (Taylor & Machado-Taylor, 2010), also known as knowledge society (Hargreaves, 2003), has prompted questions as to whether or not college is a commodity (Gutting, 2015). The difference between education and training relates to the transfer of skills, both cognitive and non-cognitive, ethical development, and metacognition (Gutting, 2015). Institutions of higher education face significant changes in their respective contexts as demographics differ from what seemed to support the status quo previously – more students who are identified non-traditional (Taylor & Machado-Taylor, 2010) seek undergraduate and/or graduate degrees. Access to a college education has increased tremendously, along with specialization tracks that provide students seen as consumers a wide range of options for both general education and professional programs. Therefore, moving from a professional bureaucracy to a learning organization (Richards, 2011) would position higher education institutions to manage challenges in increasingly complex, competitive environments (Drew, 2010).

Leadership and management are intertwined. Every leader is managing on some level and a manager is a leader in some areas of responsibility (Monaghan, 2010). In general, a leader is involved with the big picture and a manager is involved with day-to-day operations. Strategic leadership and management focus on analytical data-driven decisions and human dimensions of creating a shared vision that helps the organization compete successfully in their respective fields. Today’s information society has particular characteristics that extend some of the leadership principles that evolved into authentic (Cooper, Scandura, & Schriesheim, 2005), distributive (Jones, Lefoe, Harvey, & Ryland, 2012), or visionary (Taylor & Machado-Taylor, 2010) strands. While the business world and higher education represent realms that are significantly different from one another, allowing them to support each other would benefit CEOs and Board members as well as college and university administration in terms of supporting societal change in a convergent manner.

Under these circumstances, the role of strategic leadership and management in higher education appears to be very important in terms of principles, theoretical frameworks, and operational guidelines. Specifically, concepts of strategic leadership and management can be operationalized to account for the contextual factors that help shape them. Such factors might include increased involvement/monitoring of Boards of Trustees/Regents in the day-to-day university operations, defunding of higher education at state and local levels, the changing role of labor unions, increasing reliance on part-time faculty, as well as federal level mandates examining student tuition/debt ratio and criteria related to employability of graduates. Of particular interest are the connections that could be established between strategic leadership and management and new leadership concepts such as “ethics and spirituality, collaboration and partnering, empowerment, social change, emotions, globalization, entrepreneurialism, and accountability” (Kezar, Carducci, & Contreras-McGavin, 2006). Based on some of the problems that have plagued higher education leadership implementation (Wang & Berger, 2010), the dimensions of an effective balance between leadership and management in the 21st century have to rely on flexibility and adaptability with relation to the various vectors (adapted from Taylor & Machado-Taylor, 2010). In this chapter, we will discuss these vectors including:

  • 1.

    Societal pressure for change;

  • 2.

    Accountability;

  • 3.

    Workplace and workforce dynamics; and

  • 4.

    Interfacing between the institutional culture and its public image as well as internal and external stakeholder relations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distributive Leadership: Recognizes that leadership is not situated in one person or role but is distributed throughout the organization based on the evolving needs that arise in moving the organization forward.

Higher Education Settings: Refer to two and four year institutions across the United States both public and private.

Strategic Leadership: Combines a focus on helping the organization to make and implement decisions that ensure the long-term viability of the organization while simultaneously connecting the short-term financial viability to long term vision.

Authentic Leadership: Similar to transformational leadership but in addition emphasizes the importance of moral and ethical values as imperative to leadership.

Creative Leadership: The capacity to act and think beyond the leader’s current level of effectiveness through increasing self-awareness and reflection to help others engage and solve complex challenges.

Transformational Leadership: Focuses on supporting others in their needs to increase self-esteem and self-fulfillment. This in turn increases followers’ level of motivation and enables them to achieve performance levels that move the organization toward meeting its own goals.

Polyvalent Leadership: Implies a multifaceted, complex, yet nimble capacity of higher education to identify key players, resources, and data points needed to generate strategic and effective action plans.

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