Effective Malaysian Academic Leadership Practices

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Academia in Malaysia has long been established, although not as premier as the Ivy League's. However, it continues to strive outstandingly. Carrying the core duties of teaching, research and professional service, Malaysian academicians decide on their academic journey and destiny towards excellence. With components of the core business, the direction has to be led by leadership capabilities to ensure that the institutions of higher education in Malaysia stand at par in academic excellence with other renowned institutions of the world. Therefore, this paper attempts to apply the landmark work of more than two decades of Kouzes and Posner's The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as the basis that underpins the academic practices in helping build effective Malaysian academic leadership. This critical academic overview should be able to act as the foundation for what the future of academic leadership can contribute to sustain, despite the various challenges that set to assail the shore of academic demand, pressure and uncertainties. The common focus on teaching and learning, research and professional contribution should help to build a more resilient institution of higher education of world class stature. With the increasingly diverse expectations, leadership practices and skills as proposed by Kouzes and Posner contribute to improve the level of academic preparation for the concomitant inertia of faculties and the cohorts in the Malaysian academia.

Keywords: academic leadership, practices, teaching, research, professional service


A paper submitted as answers to Question 2 of the Comprehensive Examination held between 24 November 2010 to 1 December 2010 by Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia.


Leading is a quality that every living soul possesses in diverse perspective (Koen & Bitzer, 2010). With it comes the characteristics that require people in an organization to be and stay together to attain institutional aspiration. This situation becomes more atypical at the top most level of the organization. In an academic setting, the levels include those in the positions of vice chancellor, deputy vice chancellor, director and dean, head and coordinator (Siti Akmar et al., 2010). The complexities of these positions require a vast range of leadership skills. For this, there comes the need to search for new leader from a select group who has proven track record in the institutions of higher education. Nonetheless, there is the crucial need to enhance academic leadership development in order to create new supply of leaders throughout the institutions (Ryan, 2008).

Hochel and Wilson (2007) based their reiteration that in order for an organisation to attain excellence, the most crucial step is to appoint the right person for the right position. This has been based on a study which discovered that to move from good to great, an organisation not only has to establish a vision and to define strategies for success, but also to hire the right person for the right job. In so doing, steps to regulate the discovery of potential leaders have to include the development and grooming of current potentials for leadership position in the future.

This is a challenge in higher education as very few in academia are trained in employment selection. Furthermore, most of the top management personnel who are responsible in selection are engaged in other duties (Hochel & Wilson, 2007, Spendlove, 2007). Hence, poor practices are executed and the quality of academic managers selected is compromised. Further, this paper attempts to include the practices put forth by Kouzes and Posner (1987, 2002) in which the proposed dimensions are: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart (Kouzes and Posner, 2002). The dimensions act to strategise the development of the rightful leaders by meeting the requirement that calls for effective institutions of higher education. Thus, a critical overview on academic leadership as human capital development that enhances effective human resources is provided.

1.1 Definition of Academic Leader

An academician who is considering taking on more senior leadership roles needs to engage in activities and reflections at two levels. At a personal level, they need to question what they want to do, that is defining (or refining) ambitions. Having defined this, they must ask themselves if they have what it takes to do that job. Leadership aspirants frequently complete this part of the process. It is the second aspect of the positioning process that is less frequently achieved. Aspirants need to follow-through by ascertaining what they need to do to gain this position or role and who they need to convince that they have what it takes (Gronn and Lacey, 2004).

For it to be effective, leadership is not dependent on position and that is why leadership is an action not position. It is dependent on character and influence. A leadership position is one that requires many different skills. It is an activity that is complicated to measure, but the results of the team will determine the leader's success. Some people think leadership is about power; however, power is not leadership. When one leads people, he is actually helping people accomplish more and be all that they can be. Some require a position before they possess influence, while others possess influence by virtue of personality, strength of character, social interaction with others, and other sometimes-difficult-to-define attributes (Koen & Bitzer, 2010). When one seeks to position himself as a leader, he must have two critical elements, namely a clear objective and a strong leadership potential. A more useful view of being a leader is to see it as being strategic about achieving career goals. Hence, it is knowing what one wants and enacting a plan to achieve that goal. In the academic context, academic leader sets the direction and influence that excel every faculty member through the generic core duties of teaching-learning, research and providing professional service.

1.2 Academic Leadership in Malaysian University Setting

Malaysian higher education has taken a span of more than fifty years to develop, since it was established as a nation. Up to date, there are more than twenty public universities, complemented by GLC universities as well as private universities. Playing their roles based on the institutional aspiration, the higher education role is impactful especially in the human capital development that well contributes towards the societal growth - intellectually, economically, socially and the most crucial, the sustainable development of the nation. To operate the agenda of growth, development and sustainability, the leaders of institution of higher education have to be effective to strategise and operationalise the institutions (Dzulkifli, 2009).

Besides the 188 million entries in Google search, Du Brin (2010) and Giber et al. (2010) in defining leadership listed below some of the representative definitions of leadership which include:

Interpersonal influence directed through communication toward goal attainment

The influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with directions and orders

An act that causes others to act or respond in a shared direction

The art of influencing people by persuasion or example to follow a line of action

The principal dynamic force that motivates and coordinates the organization to attain objective

A willingness to take the blame

Figuring out what's right first, then explaining it to people as opposed to first having people explain to you what's right and then just saying what they want to hear.

The above list provides the differing focus of leadership that academician wishes to refer. However, these are traits, behaviour, motivation that complement the academic leadership stategy to be effective. In addition, Marshall (2007) states that academic leadership can be exercised when:

Being a research supervisor; facilitating and encouraging colleagues to achieve their goals;

Introducing students, mentees and supervisees to the scholarship of academic work;

Coordinating a large course unit, building community among lecturers and tutors;

Taking an active interest in people, giving advice and support to help them achieve their academic goals;

Mentoring young faculty members and being supportive throughout;

Leading by example - being effective in their work;

Being available; and

Being generous with their time and expertise.

The existence of such exemplary academic leaders who promote outstanding duties as presented above is there, but not highly available (Marshall, 2007). Therefore, institutions of higher education need to promote the culture of creating leaders who understand the impact and significance of these responsibilities. It is from this creation that excellent academic culture develops towards attaining organizational effectiveness and institutional aspiration. In summary, academic leadership takes effects on the competence dimensions of knowledge, skills and attitudes that subsequently promote creative and innovative teaching-learning, promoting groundbreaking research and contributing outstanding professional service (Spendlove, 2007).

1.3 Why does academic leader fail and what does it take to be a great effective academic leader?

1.3.1 Leader's Failure

The environment within which institutions of higher education operate in is the most crucial dimension that determines the success and failure of the organisation (Wheeler et al., 2008). Today the institutions have become so complex and multidimensional that many academicians tend to be working according to the pre-rehearsed script within the time frame and then moving on to the next play. The direction remains speculative, however, the rapid and momentuous change is unavoidable. Therefore, to sustain the institution and the role it plays, Newman et al., (2000) identify two vital areas that higher education should focus on, i.e. first, to improve the search process and second, the need for leadership development which is a subject that has not been addressed at all in most institutions. They further reiterate that due to the lack, if not absence of this effort, that has left higher education a sector that fails to focus on the search and development of leaders.

In the fast changing scenario of higher education, Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Zahid Abdul Hamid, Malaysian renowned educationist, in a personal communication conducted on 9 October 2010 too, reiterates that leadership development of higher education in the country has yet to be fulfilled. It is therefore, necessary that the custodian of higher education places concerted effort, concern and focus on developing leaders that aspire for the way forward and working hard now to reap the fruit of the academic excellence (Wheeler et al., 2008).

1.3.2 Leader's Effectiveness

Based on extensive publications derived from research, experience and consultation, success or failure of an institution begins with the definition of a leader. Covey (2004) states that a leader enables other people to work more effectively together, in a state of interdependence. Such a leader, he states, has been the catalyst in an organization which evolves on the following foundation of significant criteria habits which include: being proactive, begins with the end in mind, putting first things first, has win-win thinking, seeking to understand first and later to be understood and synergized.

Leadership effectiveness can be clarified with the relationship between leaders and managers. Zaini et al. (2009) in their study listed the following practices that best leaders are also good managers. Those who seek to lead but fail to manage will become either irrelevant or dangerous, not only to the organisation, but to the society as well. Other scholars try to solve this dispute by giving some scenarios:

Leadership without management. In the situation where leadership lacks the managerial skills, the leader sets a direction or vision that others follow, without considering too much how the new direction is going to be achieved. Consequently, the subordinates are forced to work hard but often without clear plan on how to achieve the goal. This can prolong the time frame of the tasks and decrease the rate of productivity within the organisation.

Management without leadership. In this scenario, manager controls resources to maintain the status quo or ensure things happen according to the established plan. The situation can also be illustrated in an academic organisation, in which the task of the director is to ensure that project works schedule and budget are kept within schedule without compromises on quality, cost and time frame. However, the lack of leadership to ensure new direction may result in waste and postponement which is taboo in resource control and therefore, to ensure that the key milestones and budget are followed, status quo is maintained

Combination of leadership and management. In this case, one uses the leadership skills to direct the subordinates to the new direction, while at the same time also uses the available resources to achieve the direction.

Model the Way

The first dimension in the principles proposed by Kouzes and Posner ( 2004) indicates the start of a journey. This is Model the Way that proposes living the way others adopt in the drive for excellence. In simpler and practical terms, it is leading from the front, in which very commonly, it is not about what others hear, but it is about what others do that lends to the others having the desire to follow.

2.1 Module Application Activity

Kamaruzaman and Siti Akmar (2010a) reiterate that leadership in the Malaysian academic starts by being an outstanding academician. Such a career entails far beyond teaching as it also includes the duties of conducting research and contributing professional services to the community. Hence, in this aspect academician is most likely to encounter his role model in teaching, research and professional service environments which are the platforms in pursuit towards excellence. In fact, these are the three main areas within which a faculty member must demonstrate excellence and achievement in order to be promoted. Therefore, the academic leader's role takes effect strongly by modeling the outstanding academician in professorial role, in particular through mentorship and peer reviewing academics (Syed, 2009).

In demonstrating the leadership practices, the faculty members must understand the obligation which starts with the role model of behaving as leader of excellence in these three areas:

Teaching academic

Research academic

Professional service academic.

Therefore, leadership in higher education involves a relationship of followers as well. The role of academic leader has now arrived as a collaborative endeavour among faculty members where the former must lead in order to motivate and direct the followers to attain transformation of higher education collaboratively (Koen & Bitzer, 2010).

2. 2 Find Your Voice

Academic leaders who aspire to excel must become involved and demonstrate their commitment. This is to suggest that his actions speak louder than his words. In searching for the guided way, George (2007) of True North shares the power of mentorship that can lead to transformative effect. It is when one finds a mentor he deeply respect, the relationship can have a great impact. In this case, when the mentor is very much involved in his commitment to guide the path of a young academician, the trust and belief he builds around the mentee opens up vision of what both of them can become as leaders.

In another bewilderment one has to endure through his journey with an effective leader is getting through feedback. Hence, in searching for the light, an academician has to remember that one of the most difficult things to do is the ability to receive unexpected critical feedback. Initially one tends to be defensive, that is, to challenge the validity of the criticism or the critics themselves (George, 2007). In becoming an effective leader, one has to be able to get past those feelings and process the criticism objectively. Thus, the constructive feedback that one takes to, can trigger the basis for reassessment of oneself as a leader.

Walk the Talk

2.3.1 The teaching academic

George (2007) states that the bottom line for all leaders is to optimize their effectiveness in order to achieve greater results. In the academics, teaching being the core duty, has to be complemented by the idea of creative activity and requires an understanding of how theory and practice meet. It is also an understanding that can be enhanced through a rich array of service, outreach and partnership opportunities. Nonetheless, to work well, academic excellence also requires state-of-the-art infrastructure and a talented and highly motivated staff. Therefore, the presence of effective leadership may help to achieve the objectives. With leadership, academician strives to be unique in quality, the nature of his teaching abilities and personality. There is no question of being preeminent in excellent and effective teaching and other academic works at the same time, if the intention has been specifically defined through the influence of great leaders.

2.3.2 The research academic

Research activities can be significantly promoted by visionary leader. Research leadership proposes research plans and idea and these activities can be further enhanced by other forms of intellectual inquiry. Although these kinds of activities demand a considerable amount of time and energy, research leadership promotes committee that looks achievement through original scholarly work. Academic publication involves also the guidance, influence, mentoring of effective research leaders who present review and observatory works which are of high quality, original and important findings within a specific scientific area of studies (Kamaruzaman & Siti Akmar, 2008).

2.3.3 The professional service academic

Professional service in academia generally refers to the provision of administrative and academic contributions to the faculty, university, society, nation as well as the global community. What qualifies as professional service, again, varies greatly upon the specific institution. The degree of involvement expected of the faculty member usually varies according to the size of the institution. Hence, service means providing voluntary assistance or commissioned commitment to a particular department of which the faculty member is a staff. Such duties might include participation on departmental, faculty or university-level committees and beyond. Leadership takes on a direct role in this sector of academia (Kamaruzaman & Siti Akmar, 2010b) .

The academic leader should be able to understand that it is important to become known outside of the university, local and international communities. Furthermore, participation in professional local and international society activities can be a useful way of attaining excellence in the academia. It is the influence of these leaders that help to provide professional service that is creative or scholarly.

Inspire a Shared Vision

3.1 Module Application Activity

In a proposed activity by Kouzes and Posner (1987) which can be applied in an academic setting is the development plan of an academician. This principle puts forth the requirement which is to envision and enable the future of the academics in the institution. Kamaruzaman and Siti Akmar (2010b) in their book Academic Career Roadmap displays in great details the journey, some of which are personal experiences, of that a novice to becoming very experienced for faculty memebers who aspire to track outstanding career as academician. An academic leader comes forward to detail that aspiration and the goals of the subordinates/followers by eliciting their own vision. That has to be translated in positive, optimistic, genuine and sincere manner.

3.2 Envision the Future

Malaysian higher education has moved forward through more than five decades. Since its inception, during the British post-colonial period, the education system has gone through the challenges and expectations that are able to provide up to this date an outstanding outcome. The higher education setting sees many universities becoming highly competitive and the high grades for students' admission continuously rising (Syed, 2009). The greatest importance is to sustain the culture of excellence within the institutions as well as the external recognition it strives for.

Syed (2009) queries in his book on leadership if Malaysian campus provide the ambience and the lifestyle comparable to great universities in the world. Taking on examples of Ivy Leagues is an aspiration. Having been established for several hundreds of years, these institutions may not be of match for Malaysian campus, for catching up is a time game. Perhaps, for a start, it is recommended that little Harvard be established, in particular by HiCoE, institutes and outstanding professors of the university. This will enable the future and hence, can spark further creation of culture of excellence in higher education in Malaysia.

3.3 Enlist Others

Interestingly, sustainability of shared vision has to move on into future years for the institutions to continue in performing and conducting the development process of the human capital. This is to note the significance of the students that are acquiring knowledge and skills for the future good. Therefore, to consider such development, Rost (1993) provides some propositions for future leadership development. Below enlists these suggestions:

Stop concentrating on the leader. In the module of developing leaders, it should attempt not only to produce leader qualities, but always the module that must be able to emphasise leaders traits, behaviours and personal characteristics

Providing the participants the manner of how to use influence through assertiveness. In developing human capital effectiveness, activities should train people to use persuasive and rational strategies of influence. It is important that the leadership trainee be encouraged to work in leadership relationships which are based on mutual influence and that look for beneficial outcomes

Assist leadership trainee to understand the nature of transformational change. The development programme should illustrate the key role organisational change plays in this current era. Hence, as change agent, leadership trainee should learn to challenge status quo, create new vision and sustain the movement

Enhancing collaboration orientation renders for providing the basis of reconstructing the views about leadership. Leadership training should give the trainees the awareness that leadership in the current era is much more collaborative rather than competitive, group interest rather than self interest, consensus rather than conflict and cooperation rather than competition.

These propositions help to enable future leaders to be enlisted for leadership role in particular in the institutions of higher education. Hence, to quote "the beauty is in the manners and the elegance is in the language" a translated Malay proverb acts to guide the training and development of future leaders in the knowledge of effective communication which is the foundation of success for the above propositions.

Challenge the Process

In their next inventory of principles, Kouzes and Posner propose that leaders challenge the process which indicates that successful leaders are ready for change and innovation. Despite the problems, hindrances and limitations, leaders thrive on and learn from adversity and difficult situations. They readily adapt to innovation intending to continuously improve the situation for the good of others.

4.1 Module Application Activity

Matters of the heart formally retains for a long period of time. Effective leaders are able to envision problems or challenges and will strive to improve a situation without compromising the leadership role. The suggestions put forth by Wheeler et al., (2008) see several strategies that address the following issue. The following activities recommended include:

Become aware of the concern through heart-to-heart talk and listening to the individual.

Protect the individual during the troubled time by being a buffer for a short period, reducing demands or workload, and adjusting responsibilities so the individual can take time off to address his or her own needs

Seek outside help by referring the individual to counselors for short-term psychological help or enlisting the help of senior faculty member who know the individual

4.2 Search for Opportunities

Consider this case: teaching is a forte for the academic staff of this university. With a load of 18 hours per week, the academician has to be able to create the nexus between research and teaching. To be able to do this, visionary leaders should offer guidance that sees the direction of promoting research through the teaching elements that can finally be utilized in the classroom. Baldwin (2005) proposed that the enhancement of research that thrives on teaching-learning elements is very much an obligatory responsibility to fulfil. In the faculty, academic leaders need to assist with the procedures related to research in the faculty and with the limitation on time, such obligations can be adjusted that may include assisting with the production of documents for the Research Assessment exercises and the faculty annual research report. With this duty, there is inclusion of publications in sterling journals which has now become the sought after KPI for promotion amongst academicians.

4.3 Experiment and Take Risk

The community of academics that leadership influences is constantly generating small wins and learning from experience. Taking from the experience of Syed (2009), two vital areas in an institution of higher education that an academician must be good at are in the academics and being a leader. At a young age in his 20's, he started to hold the helm of a faculty and this challenging task he accepted with much support, fortunately. As an academician, one has to stay as resilient and as a leader he does not write rules to the faculty members because when trust is placed appropriately, that enhances creativity. Hence, with proper leadership guidance, a culture of excellence can be garnered even though it has to start off through experimenting - testing the waters and taking risk.

Enable Others to Act

In relating to the principle of enabling others to act, an effective leadership practices can include strategic technical alliances with others either within the organization or outside (Kamaruzaman & Siti Akmar, 2009). In terms of research, a leader should promote the capability of allowing for participation of faculty members from various universities to accessing into new knowledge faster and this allows them to access a broader range of opportunity to excel. These cooperative efforts will enable Malaysian academicians to move rapidly onto the national and the international platforms of collaboration. With effective leadership at hand, Malaysian universities should provide incentives in terms of funding or infrastructure for technology transfer, for commercialisation, providing plants and equipment, contributing other technology, or facilitating local market access.

5.1 Personality Profiling

Being aware and having the understanding that each and every individual is different is a crucial knowledge a leader should possess. That will require the tool that can enlist the personality profile of the academics that co-exist within the faculty of the institution of higher education. By definition, a personality profile is a knowledge management tool that can be used to provide an assessment of an individual's personal attributes, values and skills which is an effort to maximize one's own job performance and in this discussion the contribution he can give to the institutional environment (Conger, 2002).

In general there are two methods that help to identify personality profile and these are trait and type. Through knowledge management tool, it seeks out information about the individual's temperament, decision-making methods, communication style and general attitude towards work and recreation or interest. The knowledge of personality profiling helps academic leaders to match the right individual to the right task, in which group work is required. These profiling tests work on the assumption that personality comprises number of characteristics and through proper documentation, it helps to identify characteristics that lend to the appropriate roles within the institution.

The profile tests to capture the type personality profile include Myers-Briggs, Insights Discovery, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. They propose that people fall into well-defined categories. The goal of the test is to identify the category the employee belongs to, share the information, and build team skills by having team members become aware of the talents associated with each category.

Personality profiling contributes to a valuable reality check when viewed in the context of an employee's job performance. Critics claim that the advent of sophisticated knowledge management technology could put too much emphasis on the process involved in gathering and mining employee data, especially in large companies, and recommend that face-to-face communication and evaluation be valued above all else.

5.2 Foster Collaboration

One of the enabling factors for others to partake in leading is strategizing collaborative positioning. Kamaruzaman & Siti Akmar (2010c) in quoting Cartwright & Zander (1968), propose leadership positioning in higher education requires the movement of leaders together with the academic and non-academic staff within the institution towards its goals by improving the quality of interactions among the members. It is through this interaction that builds cohesiveness of the group and making resources available (Cartwright & Zander, 1968). Indirectly, it also builds in leadership character, since without maintaining integrity and trustworthiness, the capability to influence will disappear. In summary, leadership is the art of influencing and directing people in such a way that it will win their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in achieving common objectives.

Apart from internal collaboration, the position of this leader has to be a relational and dynamic process. Although positioning has always been a concept used in marketing, it is more often the concept that suggests for better management that promotes collaboration not only internally, but also outside the realm of the institutions. For elaboration, positioning may include the following:




Functional Positions:

solve problems, provide benefits to others, get favorable perception by stakeholders


Symbolic positions

Self-image enhancement, Ego identification, Belongingness and social meaningfulness, Affective fulfillment



Experiential positions

Provide sensory stimulation, Provide cognitive stimulation

Kamaruzaman and Siti Akmar (2010c) further quoted that positioning is very much an element in the business world. However, this concept can still hold true in any organization, in particular, an educational institution. In deriving lessons from the business field, positioning strategy involves making the educational organization set to see what the products and services - read 'students and curriculum' it churns, and what value proposition it can offer apart from the service for the community it espouses. In a truly global institution, collaboration takes place within as well as outside the educational organization. The organization with partnering and working together does not only sell its products world-wide, but it also operates the full spectrum of its corporate activities with several institutions around the world with varying needs and aspirations. Some of these related activities include initiatives such as training, hiring, research and development, offices and centers for social activities, sourcing, customization and entrepreneurship.

There are a number of benefits to be gained from collaboration and cooperation with foreign academic research institutions. Strategic cooperation can also include participation in joint international research. In the long run, Malaysian universities will also engage in international R&D projects in such fields as environment, energy and natural resources and expanding international education and training programmes.

Full commitment and concerted efforts not only come from funders and universities, but also the drive of effective leadership that is needed to ensure the successful development of creativity and innovation. Hence, research leaders in Malaysian universities and institutions, play an important role in ensuring success of Malaysian universities as world class universities. Additionally, the "way forward" is the internationalization of research innovation and leadership in this aspect needs to foster strong relationship between leading academic departments.

Strengthen Others

Leadership is an act which focuses on what a leader does. It is in normal circumstances that his responsibility is what he is trying to achieve. A leadership guru, John Maxwell, summarizes his definition as "leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less". A direction of such moves beyond the designation that defines a leader as it involves his ability to influence others. The reference includes those who would consider themselves followers, and those outside that circle.

Within the faculty, academic leaders lead the process of curriculum review which involves looking through the courses offered by the faculty. These include the mentoring duties on to the curriculum which involves course content, methods of delivery and assessment and most importantly the documentation of these matters, either manually or electronically, the duty also includes negotiation of these developments through the faculty and the university processes. This will include the development of links with other faculties in the university and, perhaps, with other universities with a view to the provision of collaborative courses.

From the level of the faculty, he has to manage the process leading up to the faculty regularized teaching quality assessments, including a self-assessment programme, making recommendations for improvement, the preparation and compilation of documentation, liaising with staff of the Academic Office, ensuring detailed arrangements for assessment visits, meeting with assessors on the process of accreditation of the faculty courses by the relevant professional bodies.

Academic leaders of the university have duties that involve them in the membership of various committees within the faculty as well as the university. They keep a very close liaison with other officers within and outside the faculty, the university, and at the same time assist in the promotion of the activities conducted by the faculty elsewhere in the University and to external agencies (Coxhead, 2007).

Encourage the Heart

Effective academic leadership endorses this principle that faculty members require recognition and celebration. This endorsement will foster a strong sense of community. When they are passionate about what they are doing, leaders will continue to foster this enthusiasm of their followers. In this way, institutional aspiration becomes a common goal to attain excellence.

6.1 Module Application Activity

Taking on further from Kouzes and Posner (1987, 2002), this principle holds close to recognizing individual's contribution to the success of the project run by the institution. In addition, the institution should take the initiative to celebrate team accomplishment regularly. As this is highly conducted in private companies, the institution of higher education in creating excellent academic culture, encourage matters of the heart through:

Schedule celebration

Celebrate progress, not just end result

Be a cheerleader in our own way as a leader.

6.2 Recognise Contribution

The inability to acknowledge contribution of faculty member is one reason that can cause the breakage of the traditional psychological contracts (Wheeler et al., 2008). Academicians playing their core role, may not necessarily expect reward for the work due done. However, understanding and being aware of the limitations, faculty recognition plays a very significant role to encourage the heart to drive faculty members towards institutional effectiveness. Some suggestions include:

Developing high measurable performance standard

Install a formal, systematic process for rewarding performance

Give formal, spontaneous rewards generously

Be creative about rewards

Make recognition public

Coach and encourage

7. Conclusions, Implications and Recommendations

Delimiting individuals for leadership development may contrive and stifle continuous improvement of the institutions of higher education. Profiling those who possess interest and are keen to lead as well as those who have the talented capability as leaders is a crucial duty of those in the leadership position. These talents should be picked by the custodian of the institution for grooming and talent refining.

This allows for awareness and knowledge amongst academicians, especially those who are aspiring for excellence to track the career roadmap. The track may have different requirements for promotion, however, with effective leadership practices in the Malaysian higher education, it is critically important that the new, younger academicians, if not the outstanding senior ones are able to become familiar with such requirements (Kamaruzaman & Siti Akmar, 2009). Leadership of vision and prowess will influence these academicians to start early in their academic life towards excellence. Academicians under such effective leadership will be able to start thinking early further than waiting near the end when the promotion clock is ticking.

In summary, effective leadership practices will help to determine future effectiveness (Gregory-Mina, 2009). This is translated by determining the direction of where young and new academicians are heading towards and how they get there. Academicians should highlight the general career roadmap and academic excellence plan, complemented with strong competency of knowledge, skills and attitudes on the capabilities for teaching-learning, research and professional service. Importantly the principles laid by Kouzes and Posner (2004) present strategies to deal with the potential pitfalls and avoid some of the bumps in the road towards striving for academic excellence through effective leadership.


To the Chairman of my PhD Supervisory Committee, Prof Abu Daud Silong, my appreciation for your guidance as well as to Dr Ismi Arif Ismail a member of the Committee, your assistance is much gratified. This academic write up has also been made possible by the outstanding leadership practices embraced by Professor Kamaruzaman Jusoff, and to him my immense gratitude.