Academic leadership is a seldom-used term to describe a person who is something of a manager of academic activities.
It's a role that holds a lot of power, responsibility, and prestige. We're going to cover the idea of academic leadership in this article and flesh out the definition a little more.
After that, we'll discuss what kinds of people succeed as academic leaders. In other words, we'll talk about the traits that a person should have and develop in order to become an academic leader.
Let's get started:
What is Academic Leadership?
Academic leaders usually take an administrative role in academic institutions. A strict definition of the term could just mean anyone who leads anybody else in academics.
That could mean teachers, professors, even proactive students. But, we typically mean those who are in charge or have authority over some part of the institution when we use the term "academic leadership."
We're talking about department chairs, administrators, deans, and chancellors. These are individuals who orchestrate the flow of learning in higher education. So far as the laws and regulations of the state allow them, they are in charge of educational attainment and the operation of colleges.
The decisions of these people dictate educational opportunities for young learners and deeply affect the trajectory of their lives. These are young people who will soon be leaders who will then make similar decisions, so the role of academic leadership is extremely important not only to colleges but to future generations.
What Skills are Needed for Leadership
The role of an academic leader is an extremely important one. For that reason, it takes a person with a specific set of skills and characteristics to carry out the job well. These qualities have to be refined and well-oiled in order to perform your duties well.
We're going to cover a few of those skills in detail. We hope this helps you know what you need to do if you want to have a leadership role.
1. Interpersonal Communication
This is a must for almost any job, but the value of communication is extremely high in academic leadership roles.
These positions require an individual to communicate with a number of individuals in different positions, from different disciplines, and about different subject matter. Additionally, communication is carried out digitally and in person.
In person, communication must be clear, professional, and personable. There are a number of deliberations that academic leaders make that have to be extremely clear. This is amplified by the fact that a lot of academic proceedings are carried out at a high and abstract level.
Colleges deal in some of the most sophisticated information, and directing how that information is taught is a difficult thing. So, leaders have to understand the information in question, how it fits into the context of higher learning and the university's goals, then dictate that information to professionals in a way that can be understood clearly.
Written communication is the other end of leadership communication. Leaders should write well, succinctly, and professionally. There's a lot to be said about a person who can construct and send a well-written email that gets to the heart of what's being said.
This is especially true when emails are being sent to a high number of people.
2. Flexibility and Intelligence
Most high-level leadership roles allow the professional a decent amount of give. By that, we mean that there's a degree of authority that allows the person to make creative decisions about what needs to be done.
Additionally, when there are a lot of people working under you, you have to be able to adjust to the wants and needs of those people. No one wants to work for a dictator, especially high-level academics.
So, it's important to be understanding of the needs of your professors and employees and rise to meet those needs. That requires a degree of flexibility.
You also have to be able to understand why a person would want what they do when it comes to academic proceedings. That means having a degree of intelligence that allows you to grasp that context of what's happening at your university.
The further you move up into leadership positions, the more your decisions weigh and affect the future of your institution. For example, denying or failing to meet the needs of professors in the arts could lead to a poor program that attracts fewer students, gets less funding, and eventually gets cut.
3. Organizational Skills
Another essential skill for academic leadership is excellent organizational skills. One piece of academic organization is deliberating your tasks to other people who work with you in order to maintain a high standard.
That involves our second skill, communication. In order to make sure that the things you need to keep organized are well-handled by your staff, it's essential that you dictate your needs to them very clearly.
Additionally, you must make clear the importance of those tasks so that your staff can prioritize and handle things as they come up in order of importance. On your end, though, you'll need to have all of your ducks in a row.
You'll have a good deal of correspondence with people that deals with important information, and you have to have methods of cataloging that information to refer to later. Sometimes, failing to remember conversations and correspondence can result in huge losses for your system and institution.
So, make sure that your personal organizational skills are refined and capable of managing a high volume of information, even if that means taking information and delegating it to others on your team.
Think You Have What It Takes?
Our hope is that you have a better idea of what is required for an academic leadership role after reading this article. Take some time to catalog your skills and see where you have room to improve.
Explore our site if you're interested in finding out more about career paths or need tips and trick for improving your professional life.