Academic Leadership Beyond Bottom Line
romoter-leaders may be the new norm in academia today, but with increased focus on research and global recognition, academic leaders will soon take centre stage. The success of an institution cannot be measured by its bottom line alone; and the head of an institution is characterised by competencies and credibility that are very different from those possessed by the leaders of other enterprises. In the June 2011 issue of EDU Tech, Editor Pramath Raj Sinha in his editorial, ‘Can Non Academics Lead’, observed: “...the leadership of academic institutions is no different from that of other enterprises.” While it is true today in the context of Indian institutions, it will not be so in the future. Majority of Indian institutions today are not focussed on research and have failed to provide quality teaching. However, as institutions mature, professionalise and seek global recognition, academic leadership will be characterised by competencies and credibility which will be very different from other enterprises. I believe that the nature of academic leadership in the higher education setting is different from business leadership in at least three interrelated ways. First is the role of institutional mission which defines its purpose and
EduTech September 2011
shapes the leadership style. The second is the success of an educational institution, which unlike a business enterprise, cannot be measured by the bottom line alone. And, the third is the role of governance, which is a shared responsibility and entails domain expertise for leading an educational institution.
Different Leanings Bolman and Gallosac in their recent book, Reframing Academic Leadership, note that higher education is different from business organisations for several reasons including “...educational mission — a complex and variable mix of teaching, research, service, and outreach. Higher education’s mission requires that many of its key employees be teachers and scholars whose contributions depend on their unique expertise, dedication, and capacity for professional judgment.” To paraphrase, the core mission of a comprehensive institution of higher education relates to teaching, research and community. Unfortunately, in India there are only a handful of institutions which have a clearly defined mission. Most of the institutions here are places for teaching with no focus on research or community service. In the
What it takes to reach the top...EDU finds out