Leadership and management styles matter. They can inspire the best in individual employees, shape overall job satisfaction, and establish the cultural foundations for organizations as a whole.

Freedom, Pruning, and Growth

Today’s ambitious college students have lofty goals. It needs to be the goal of each leader within academia to provide them with the tools and opportunities to make the most out of their educational experience–and that means equipping everyone across the campus, from professors to those who work in the offices, the bookstores, and the cafeterias, with the tools they need to successfully guide those students to success.

Leadership in higher education, therefore, requires what Richard Greenwald calls the ability to prune: removing unnecessary programs, foundations, and processes around campus in order to allow the critical and important to grow and thrive. He admits that leadership at this level means taking a step back and allowing the college to grow on its own, without necessarily needing to stand over every step of the process. He refers to this leadership style as being similar to gardening: providing the pieces, planting the seeds, and then stepping back to see what happens, pruning as necessary in order to achieve the desired result.

Clear Vision

If it is necessary for leaders in higher education to plant the seeds, they must first have seeds to plant–that is, have the ability to produce a clear vision that will enable them to more effectively lead the university as a whole. Leaders within higher education require several key factors to support that vision, including:

  • Compliance from their faculty and staff
  • The ability to see how employees fit into the vision and what support they need in order to accomplish their roles in that vision
  • Fairness and integrity when dealing with faculty and staff
  • The ability to adapt to the changing needs of the college community.

Encouragement of Community

Fostering community can lead to a sense of inclusion and support that bolsters the entire university. Community enhancement relies on:

  • Team-building exercises, including competitions, events, and faculty/staff gatherings
  • Awareness of important dates and events in the lives of employees
  • Encouragement of collaboration, even across departments

Great achievements occur under great leadership.  Just as gardens require ongoing tending to thrive, so, too, do university communities, and it’s up to academic leaders to ensure there is consistent growth on their campuses.

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