The Importance of Leadership Development within Higher Education

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.

Over the past decade, there has been increasing evidence describing the difficulties of leading in the university environment, changes in leader roles and organizational practices, and the volatility of the higher education climate. The purpose of this article is to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of leadership for the leader-academic, the management of education change, the nature of leadership for middle-level leader-academics in higher education, and the nature of higher education organizations. The mainstay of the paper is formed by an analysis of the current role of women in higher education, the role of the leader-academic in higher education, the range of responsibilities attributed to the leader-academic role, and the complexities of leveraging preparation program reform in universities.

Keywords: leadership, management, university, higher education, academic

1. Introduction

The objective of this paper is to emphasize the nature of higher education institutions as professional and bureaucratic organizations, shared governance in higher education, the managerial role of HODs, and the impact that quality leaders have on the organizations they lead. These findings highlight the importance of examining the promotion of diversity in academic leadership, trends in leadership in higher education, and the need for changes in educational leadership preparation.

2. The Development of Educational Leadership

Universities reflect complexity in initiating and implementing change. Colleges and universities should offer relevant yet effective preparation programs to meet changing societal demands. Teaching scholarship and program development are significant faculty tasks. Educational leadership faculty are called upon to change the ways that they prepare leaders. Educational leadership faculty who have strong reputations with arts and science faculty should advocate for standards and approval of programs that emphasize the scholarship of practice. The influence of states on both complexity and opportunity for leveraging change in university preparation programs requires attention from universities and professional organizations. University preparation programs should work with other stakeholders in ensuring a coherent systemic approach to leadership preparation. (Crow et al., 2012) The work of faculty researchers should be complementary to the work of educational leaders and policy makers. Policy makers and practitioners require more substantive and purposeful evidence and direction. Efforts must be made to support research utilization within educational leadership. Public demands for more effective schools (Nica, 2013) have placed attention on educational leadership. Leadership influence on student achievement is indirect, whereas successful school leadership depends on quality preparation. Universities are the largest producers of research in the area of educational leadership. Intermediary organizations are important players in the diffusion and use of research. The majority of scholarly effort has been invested in research production and dissemination (faculty can be smarter about increasing the impact of their own work through dissemination). School leaders and educational leadership faculty operate in high-stakes environments (Pera, 2013) that demand the use of research evidence. Scholars in the field of educational leadership must give attention to the role of their research in the change process. Educational scholars should embrace their responsibility and their changing role as both generators and translators of research for action. (Young and Rorrer, 2012)

Increasing prevalence of women throughout the various academic ranks is due mainly to greater numbers of women applicants (representation of women at higher professorial ranks is disappointing). Stereotypes of male and female roles (Paraschiv, 2013) unconsciously pervade attitudes of both men and women. Many social science and professional fields have shown substantial gender desegregation. …