Leadership Skills in Management Education

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Leaders in management education face diverse challenges in today's competitive and changing environment. However, educational administrators are often faculty members with little direct leadership experience, formal preparation, or skill development. Since leadership skills are abilities that can be developed, formal training should take place before these individuals enter leadership roles.

This study examines the required skills that lead to effective leadership in hospitality management higher education from the perspective of faculty and academic administrators using Mumford, Campion and Morgeson's (2007) strataplex model of leader behaviors as a framework. Both faculty and administrators ranked business skills as the most important skills for leadership; this was followed by cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, personal values, and strategic skills. Specifically, they unanimously ranked communication as the most important individual leadership skill and indicated that the method of communication depends on the audience and the content of the message. Ethics and fairness were prevalent personal values, as well as recognition that leadership should be able to understand faculty's interpretation of fairness.

INTRODUCTION

Leaders in management education face diverse challenges in today's competitive and changing environment. Evolving demands from superiors, financial challenges, faculty, and students create a turbulent environment in which administrators must thrive. One of the keys to being an effective leader in this situation is the application of the necessary leadership skills. However, leaders in educational institutions are generally faculty members that do not have formal leadership experience; as such, their formal preparation and skill development are practically non-existent, and consist mainly of on-the-job training. Since leadership skills are abilities that can be developed, formal training should be in place before the entrusting of administrative duties. The purpose of this study is to examine the required skills that make effective leaders in managerial higher education.

Leadership has often been thought of as based upon inborn personality traits, abilities, or gifts (e.g., Kenny & Zaccaro, 1983; Lord, Devader, & Alliger, 1986; Weber, 1947). However, in the middle part of the twentieth century leadership scholars began conceiving of leadership as being bound to the particular social context in which it occurs, thus leading to theories of leadership as being based in individual behavior (e.g., Blake & Mouton, 1978; Fleishman, 1953). From the idea of leadership as a set of behaviors performed by the individual, it was only a small step to begin thinking of leadership as a definable set of skills that can be learned and developed (Connelly, Gilbert, Zaccaro, Threlfall, Marks, & Mumford, 2000; Katz, 1974; Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000). Therefore, in this study, we examine leadership in an educational setting using Mumford, Campion, & Morgeson's (2007) taxonomy which describes leadership skills using four distinct categories of cognitive, interpersonal, business, & strategic skills.

This paper examines the expectations of leadership constituents in a hospitality management education setting: the faculty (the followers of these leaders), and the administrators within the larger university setting. We draw upon email surveys that are analyzed as a whole sample as well as within and between the two different sub-samples (faculty and administrators). Our findings show that there is a perceived hierarchy of skills for leaders within the context of management education, which suggests implications for both leadership theory and for the practice of leadership development.

Leadership skills in an education setting

Historically leadership research has utilized a variety of guiding frameworks, balancing between enduring, person-specific traits on the one hand and context-specific behaviors or skills on the other hand. …