Barry University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 61-65
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0037
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
In recent years there has been a great deal written about leadership. The majority of articles and analyses, however, focus on leadership in nonacademic organizations; there has been less written on leadership in higher education environments. We believe that higher education leadership is critical to the success of academic institutions now facing increasing financial pressures in a complex and congested higher education environment where adaptive challenges are not well defined, difficult to identify, and easy to deny. In order to be successful in this competitive higher education environment, continuous improvement and increased accountability are essential. Solutions to adaptive challenges that require strategic iterative improvements, process enhancements, new strategies, new transformative learning, and new ways of doing business may be needed, and often institutional culture may need to change. This requires a new breed of transformative rather than transactional higher education leader.

Effective leaders in higher education should be self-aware and self-evaluative, acknowledge their weaknesses, learn from their crucibles, and actively seek out opportunities for leadership training and professional development. These leaders will be able to see “the big picture,” focus on how strategy establishes the mission and vision, and not get trapped in the weeds of their work. These leaders will not be tempted to engage in transactional strategies, but rather use a different toolbox composed of inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and idealized influence. They will remain authentic, be true to their internal personalities, ethical and moral codes and engage the campus community in seeking sustainable solutions to the adaptive challenges now facing higher education.

Effective higher education leaders are able to capture the complexities of the adaptive challenges facing higher education and translate those complexities into simpler terms in order to obtain institutional buy-in and campus commitment in pursuit of strategic opportunities and alternative and sustainable solutions. Given that the principles and practices of quality management apply equally to higher education as they do to manufacturing and to any service industry, to be effective, academic leaders should employ a democratic situational leadership style that is founded on the Kaizen principles of continuous improvement.

In this commentary we consider three dimensions of transformational academic leadership and idealized influence that are particularly useful in addressing adaptive challenges using a Kaizen or continuous improvement approach to the implementation of total quality management. The new breed of higher education leaders should be true to their vision, humble in position while building relationships, and be active in trusting.
Higher Education Leadership, Transformative Leadership, Adaptive Challenges.