Next month, I am presenting at ER&L on leadership. I think one of the things I want to discuss is creating a personal philosophy, something I used to require of my SJSU management students...and something that I haven't looked at for myself recently. So, here goes!
Throughout my career, I have almost always seen myself as a leader, even when I was not a manager and even though many times my leadership was momentary and informal. As my career has progressed, my understandings of the distinctions between leadership and management have become more formalized and easier to express. To me, leadership is fundamentally about creating a shared philosophy or vision for an organization, a unit, or a team. That vision is based on understanding the organization’s mission, seeing where there is a need for change, and having the creativity to define what the change should look like within the organization’s context. A great leader can define that vision in such a way that it transforms the organization and the people within it.
An effective administrator needs to be both a leader and a manager. She needs a compelling vision, a mix of analytical, technical, and financial skills, blended with congenial soft skills. Management after all is about human potential and how to tap into people’s greatest expression of themselves. It also is about collaboration and cooperation, getting employees to understand their jobs and empowering them to do it well, while listening to their input and recognizing when the administrator needs to change her own opinions and approaches.
In higher education, a truly effective administrator will embody the leadership and management characteristics above, as well as many of the characteristics of a good teacher. She is then passionate, visionary, ethical, knowledgeable, flexible, and inspirational. She supplies the necessary scaffolding for the people she works with so that they may learn and grow, while learning and growing alongside them. I find leadership within such a construct to be rewarding for me and I hope that it is rewarding for those I serve, the students, faculty and staff of my institution.