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S. Hussin, M. Ghasemy, M.A. Kamaluddin

University of Malaya (MALAYSIA)
In the past few years, the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) and the Association of Tertiary Education Management (ATEM) conducted some studies in the area of leadership capabilities, competencies, and performance in higher education in Australia and New Zealand. The studies used a survey instrument, which was constructed based on a conceptual framework consisting of five aspects including personal, interpersonal, and cognitive capabilities as well as generic and role-specific competencies. We became interested with those studies, and we investigated the situation in some public and private universities in Malaysia under a research project called the Leadership in Malaysian Educational Organizations (LIMEO-1). The same survey instrument was distributed randomly to 90 leading managers and professors in Malaysian universities, and we compare the results of our study with that obtained by our counterparts in Australia and New Zealand.

The results revealed some interesting similarities and differences. For example, in the aspect of leadership interpersonal capabilities, items such as “being true to one's personal values and ethics,” “remaining calm under pressure,” and “understanding personal strengths and limitations” were ranked highly in Australia’s and New Zealand’s higher education institutions, whereas the items “having passion and enthusiasm in teaching and learning” and “wanting to achieve best outcome possible” were ranked highly in Malaysia’s higher education institutions. As for leadership competencies, interestingly academic leaders in all three countries ranked the item “being able to manage work and time effectively” as the highest competency. Other competency items ranked highly in the three countries were “understanding how universities operate” and “having a sound administrative and resource management skills.” As for leadership performance effectiveness, academic leaders in Australia and Malaysia commonly agreed that “achieving high quality graduate outcomes” as the top-most item, and the other highly-ranked items was “producing significant improvements in teaching and learning.”

The results of studies in this area could be used as benchmarks for determining effective university leaders and for designing training programs for university leaders in many countries.