Learning to Lead in Higher Education

Learning to Lead in Higher Education

Learning to Lead in Higher Education

Learning to Lead in Higher Education


With fewer public funds and more students, universities around the world face a crisis in sound and effective management. This book provides practical approaches to school management aimed at increasing the responsiveness of higher education to change.


Possibly the best known book about leadership is The Prince, published in the early sixteenth century. Anthony Jay has pointed out how significant it is that Machiavelli did not call his book something like The Art of Government. The idea behind The Prince is embodied in its title. Leadership matters. The qualities of the leader are the keys to a state’s success.

Machiavelli was nothing if not pragmatic. Instead of trying to establish what was right and wrong about power and leadership, as so many others have done before and since, he looked at what worked. He examined practical problems facing leaders and offered advice based on the analysis of empirical data. He believed that leaders could learn how to lead if they studied the experiences of others before them.

In these respects, if in few others, the present book is similar to his. This book is addressed to anyone who exercises academic leadership in a university, although its special audience is the ‘middle management’ level of department head. It assumes that academic outcomes matter more than management competencies; it is focused on processes and skills only as a way of getting practical results. The general argument I have tried to make is that academic leadership, particularly at the level of the head of department, can improve academic outcomes and staff commitment in an exceptionally rigorous, highly competitive, and rapidly altering climate for higher education. Simply put, research activity and productivity, and the quality of teaching and learning, are influenced for better or worse by the way in which a department is managed and led. Moreover, the capacity of staff to respond positively to new and uncertain demands depends on the effectiveness of academic leadership. Energetic leadership can transform both an ailing state and a weak department into a vital force.

This book will probably displease three groups of people. For some conservative academics, it will seem like a manifesto for

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