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Attributes of the Ideal Leader in Higher Education.
This paper intends to analyze the main characteristics that would have a leader in higher education and relate those traits with how, when, or where it can be used in the adult education setting. Based in peer review articles obtained from diverse and reliable sources possible, it is difficult to find a standard set of attributes that an ideal leader in higher education should have. This is because the leader in higher education may adapt her or his leadership style according with the years of experience in it, the environment in which the leadership is developing, and so on.
Before all, there is of great importance to understand two concepts. One, that according to Cowley (1928) “the leader is the one who succeeds in getting others to follow him or her” (Gorton & Alston, pg. 5, 2010). Two, Alston (2002) stated that leadership takes risks, makes errors and gains knowledge from mistakes providing ground for a learning process; and, individuals are encouraged to overcome their duties when leadership praxis is the true one (Gorton & Alston, pg. 5, 2010).
The study carried out by Bryman (2007) regarding to what characteristics of leader behavior are related with leadership effectiveness in higher education found 13 traits. These aspects contribute to be an effective leader in the higher education arenas and are the following without any order of importance:
This means that leaders to be effective should provide to coworkers, followers, or collaborators a clear pathway to follow-up in order to achieve the organizational goal. Phelps (2008) also includes in her study the preponderance of having the leader's vision pre-defined because from it can be drawn questions that confront practices and support development. To be a visionary leader in a nontraditional school setting is a critical leadership characteristic. Under this point, the leader should assure to stipulate the reason, implication, and significance of the work in the school that would allow them to encourage and allocate the organization members to participate in the vision attainment.
2. Arranging organization coordination to ease direction:
A good leader in higher education watches over pursuing the coordination within the academic institution (Bryman, 2007). It obeys to the simple matter that educational leader is involved in a constant planning of curricula, setting aside sources of time, data, and tasks to support the vision established. Doing so, the higher education leader is able to make suitable curricular choices to appoint effective leadership.
3. Being considerate:
An ideal leader should demonstrate confidence, kindness, and reciprocal esteem among leader and followers. Robertson (2009) said that trust is an essential element in the learning process as well as to the leadership. This researcher points out that trust acquires time to build up and is considered an intangible concept to define but is known when it is present. Educational leaders should trust others, be concerned about their collaborators, and look all sides before make a judgment.
4. Treating academic staff fairly and with integrity:
Effective higher education leader should consider the importance of how reasonable, steadily, broadly, receptively, and supported would people are addressed. In contrast, Kezar and Caducci (2006) emphasized that when leaders compromise values, integrity, or morale it could evolve an inquiry awake from the academic staff, that in its turn, the leader's decision-making capability may be at risk to decrease the ability to cause an effect on something or someone else's.
In conclusion, individuals are considered the main resource of any organization (Loeser, 2008); therefore, the way as the educational leader treats and values the human resources will have a great impact by the time to incorporate interdisciplinary and multicultural approaches to curriculum design, planning, execution, analysis, and assessment.
5. Being trustworthy and having personal integrity:
Bryman (2007) mentioned the necessity for educational leaders to be trusted and at the same time to be a person with integrity. The scope of trust and integrity in an effective leader in higher education lies on the encouragement of trust and collaboration between the organization members, and demonstration of honesty, reliability, and moral conduct in any circumstance, that in its turn, shows respect of themselves and others.
In effect, Kezar and Carducci (2006) affirmed that many studies links effective educational leaders' emotional intelligence with the capacity to cooperate with each other, empower, and afford ethical or moral leadership. Because of having a leader with personal integrity, it will outline in some way the organization as an integrity organization; valued by staff's members and society.
6. Chance to be involved in key decisions promoting receptive communication:
In 2007, Bryman found that foremost effective leadership factors were sponsoring involvement in decision-making and a structure to maintain it. This structure is provided by the open communication between the leader and the staff. For an ideal leadership in higher education, open communication means to bring from both parts-leader and staff members- a good communication as well as listening skills in order to accept opinions, authentic criticisms, advices, and complements as positive feedback with the challenge of improvement. Projecting an attitude that promotes involvement assures the higher educational leader to attain the educational goals proposed.
7. Communicating well about the direction the organization is going:
Effective educational leaders should guarantee the staff is informed of the organization's direction by which is appointed (Bryman, 2007). This trait is extremely important because in an organization of higher education, specifically adult education in a nontraditional setting, the paramount necessity is to see, to feel, and to know the pathway that would follow the institution in sequence to accomplish the organization plus the learners' goals.
8. To be a role model having credibility:
An effective educational leadership constructs role models for the organization. This role is based in the trustworthiness of the leader as academic and in terms of being leaders (Bryman, 2007). As a result, it forces the educational leader acts according the exigencies and expectations of the position even though when a leadership is not a position, it is a process requiring individual commitment, empowerment, and collective action (Kezar & Carducci, 2006). The practice of leadership has turned away from strategies similar to positional power, authority, management, and oppression. A higher education leader should show credibility with the purpose to cause an effect in the environment in which staff members work as well as on the student population.
Credibility is vital for leaders in any type of organization because requires trust, assurance, and competence (Loeser, 2008). In a higher education organization, the leadership should able to demonstrate work-life stability; otherwise, the entire community will have doubts about the leader practice. Credibility underlie on the concept of consistency between what the leader predicates and what in reality performs. Credible leaders walk the talk, practice what they preach, are consistent in word and deed, put their money where their mouth is, and follow through on promises.
9. Building a constructive work environment based in collegiality:
Robertson (2009) said that approaching leadership through mutual relations among colleagues means construct a relationship as an equal learner. An educational leader with the willingness to create a work environment grounded in collegiality and professional partnership may be have the enthusiasm to listen, to transform and adjust, and to link up and engage colleagues in the learning odyssey.
The terms collaboration and collegiality sound similar and look comparable. In fact, collaboration alludes when leader and staff members joint to work looking forward to reach a common objective. Collegiality depicts more than a collaborative relationship since the participants are engaged in a learning process from each other (Robertson, 2009). This reciprocal learning experience, at professional level, will influence the leadership praxis; and, therefore, the school culture.
To build a constructive job place promoting collegiality, the focal point is on communication (Phelps, 2008). The extent based in collegiality in which the leader would deal in order to offer a positive work place, may consist in giving opportunities to staff members. This opportunity would rank from letting to bring their long train's carriage of knowledge with their strengths and weakness; developing specialized learning networks to supply staff members with enough time to process the plethora of new experiences in a significant way.
10. Being proactive:
In the article written by Bryman (2007) mentioned that effective educational leader is a proactive one; is the leader that continually and enthusiastically attains steps to move ahead the organization outline and acquaintances regarding of its necessities and aids. In other words, a proactive educational leader, in behalf of the organization is one that confronts the status quo of the institution in order to react to alterations that possibly would have an effect on the educational environment. A higher education leader, should be a person with own initiative; futuristic, recognizing the present situation and be prepared for the hereafter's arrangements; a challenger of the educational status quo; and, a launcher of work and regulator of strategies.
11. Providing feedback on performance:
As Robertson (2009) stated that leadership in higher education involves significant reflection on praxis as on the process of transformation. The approachable components in the learning process are the experiences and the effect produced on them; however, a continuo feedback is vital for the appropriate development of a healthy leadership.
The educational leader is a professional that understands the role of reflection in learning, reflecting on the function occupied by the staff members in the organization and in the society; examining individual and professional abilities throughout self-assessments; and, using feedback to perform better as a leader.
12. Facilitates sources to regulate workloads to encourage research and scholarship:
This leader's trait implies that effective higher educational leader is one who see the advantage to do and follow a line of investigation as priority, and who adjust the amount of work assigned to staff members to reflect this trend (Bryman, 2007). The degree in which, the educational leader controls funds, physical space, and collaborators to assist research activities should be congruent with the educational goals and the staff member's realism that would let them accomplish their job independently.
Kezar and Carducci (2006) plead for the empowerment in higher education. They argued that the significance of empowerment in successful leadership process rests in the opportunities and development of educational-scientific investigations that faculty or staff members may are able to carry out. On the other hand, in order to encourage empowerment, the higher education leader should be first promote and cultivate a culture of inquiry among the staff members (Phelps, 2008).
13. Makes scholastic meetings to boost organization's prestige:
This characteristic of effective leader in an educational environment has an essential importance in a higher educational organization where educational-scientific investigations are common practices because of its tradition as well as culture (Bryman, 2007).
Higher education could be considered as cultural boundary, reason by which entrepreneurialism, globalization, and accountability are not simply accepted (Kezar & Carducci, 2006). As a result, these concepts are inconsistent with higher education's practice of sovereignty, focuses on mission instead money, and anti-corporate arrangement. The three concepts mentioned above have rising significance since the educational leader pursues to enhance the organization's status. This proposal can overcome through periodical leader-staff members-community conventions where may be make public the accomplishments of goals proposed, the expectations for a near future, and reiterate social compromise the institution have with the community.
Lastly, to be an effective educational leader in the present days, and in order to meet its requirements but at the same time attaining the educational goals; there are some main attributes the leader should have. Some of them are visionary, assertive communicator, possessor of good values, interactive, and good receptor and channeler of good as well as bad feedback to plan strategies that would help the educational organization to perform and serves better.