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The Essential Academic Leader. Jeffrey L. Buller Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College Florida Atlantic University. Today’s Workshop. The Foundations of Academic Leadership The Importance of Communication in Academic Leadership Leading Change Coping with the Stress of Academic Leadership .

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the essential academic leader

The Essential Academic Leader

Jeffrey L. Buller

Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College

Florida Atlantic University

today s workshop
Today’s Workshop
  • The Foundations of Academic Leadership
  • The Importance of Communication in Academic Leadership
  • Leading Change
  • Coping with the Stress of Academic Leadership
most important concept
Most Important Concept

In the end, people don’t respond to your “technique.”

They respond to your values.

most important advice
Most Important Advice

Use your resources!

In this workshop, your resources are:

  • the presenter
  • the Powerpoint slides
  • the workbook materials
  • each other
  • your own experience and imagination
the foundations of academic leadership goals for this session
The Foundations of Academic LeadershipGoals for This Session
  • Explore what leadership means in an academic setting
  • Discuss styles of academic leadership
  • Consider how academic leaders develop a vision
  • Discuss some of the ways in which academic leaders make decisions

The ability to motivate and unite individuals to work together towards a common goal.

roles of a leader
Roles of a Leader
  • Planner
  • Evaluator
  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • Counselor
  • Mediator or Arbitator
five types of leader from dorothy leeds smart questions page 107
Five Types of Leaderfrom Dorothy Leeds, Smart Questions, page 107
  • Commander

fast moving leader, change agent

  • Convincer

promotes ideas (own or others)

  • Carer

keeps the peace and encourages cooperation

  • Calculator

makes sure things are done right

  • Creator

is innovative in developing new ideas and strategies

leeds five types
Leeds’ Five Types
  • One of these types is probably your “default style”
  • But every leader should combine elements of all five
  • Most importantly, every leadership team should contain clear representation of all five leadership types
how to lead
How to Lead
  • Understand who you are
  • Understand your core beliefs, principles
  • Be known for something
  • Radiate confidence and positive energy
  • Seek areas where the dreams of others coincide with your own
  • Find ways to offer more than you receive
leadership styles
Leadership Styles
  • Hierarchical leadership
  • Participative leadership
  • Collaborative leadership
  • Delegative leadership
  • Charismatic leadership
  • Visionary leadership
  • Pedagogical leadership
  • Free-rein leadership
  • Team-based leadership
  • Situational leadership
  • Transformational leadership
  • Transactional leadership
  • Management-based leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Reactionary leadership
  • “Invisible” or quiet leadership
verse 17 of the tao te ching
Verse 17 of the Tao Te Ching

When the work’s done right,

With no fuss or boasting,

Ordinary people say,

Oh, we did it.

True leaders

are hardly known to their followers.

Next after them are the leaders

the people know and admire;

after them, those they fear;

after them, those they despise.

To give no trust

is to get no trust.

leadership styles1
Leadership Styles
  • No single style of leadership is appropriate in all situations.
  • The effectiveness of a leadership style depends on …
  • The personality of the leader
  • The needs and mission of the organization
  • The knowledge, needs, and personalities of the staff
  • Do you have a “default” leadership style?
  • Are there particular situations in which specific leadership styles may be most appropriate or desirable?
  • Can you cite examples of situations in which specific leadership styles would be least desirable or appropriate?
do you agree
Do You Agree?

Credibility is the cornerstone of exemplary leadership.

leadership and vision
Leadership and Vision
  • Build outward from core strengths
  • Borrow from “best practices” in use at peer and aspirational institutions
  • Balance the practical and the highly imaginative
  • Not every vision has to be your own: empower others
  • Keep in mind those who will follow you
  • One highly compelling dream is work far more than dozens of less creative and meaningful dreams
leadership and making decisions
Leadership and Making Decisions

Adapted from Reginald Leon Green, Practicing the Art of Leadershipthird edition (New York, NY: Pearson, 2009) pp. 139-142

The Classical Modelthe best

The Administrative Modelthe satisfactory

The perfect is the enemy of the good.


The Incremental Modelsmall decisions

The Mixed Scanning Modelcombines Administrative and Incremental Models

The Garbage Can Modeltrial and error

The Political Modelemphasizes power and influence

a leadership case study exercise 1 part 1 of 2
Common qualities of exemplary university leaders

Drawn from six case studies performed by Arthur Padilla in Portraits of Leadership: Six Extraordinary University Presidents

A Leadership Case StudyExercise #1 (Part 1 of 2)
  • Clark Kerr (University of California, Berkeley)
  • William C. Friday (University of North Carolina System)
  • Theodore Hesburgh (University of Notre Dame)
  • John Brooks Slaughter (University of Maryland)
  • William Gordon Bowen (Princeton University)
  • Hanna Holborn Gray (University of Chicago)
Read over these qualities and experiences, and then:

Place a check mark in the box for any one of these qualities and experiences that applies to you

Place a check mark in the circle for any one of these qualities and experiences that you believe significantly contributed to your success as an academic leader

What are the most important qualities that you identify?

A Leadership Case Study

Exercise #1 (Part 2 of 2)

communication and academic leadership goals for this session
Communication and Academic LeadershipGoals for This Session
  • Explore why leadership is inseparable from communication
  • Identify our own styles of communication
  • Discuss methods by which academic leaders interact with others

Why Communication Is Important

We’re all middle managers now.

exercise 2 1 self assessment method of interacting with others
Exercise #2.1Self-Assessment: Method of Interacting with Others

Complete Exercise #2.1 in your materials as you are instructed.






exercise 2 2 exploring your communication style
Exercise #2.2Exploring Your Communication Style

Break into groups by your interaction types

  • Scholars
  • Directors
  • Diplomats
  • Socializers
exercise 2 2 exploring your communication style1
Exercise #2.2Exploring Your Communication Style
  • What sort of interpersonal situation frustrates you the most?
  • What are some of the strategies you’ve used to deal with those situations (successfully or not)?
  • How would you prefer other people to interact with you if they have a problem with you?

Exercise #2.3Assessing the Resources of the Area That You Supervise

  • Skills
  • Attributes
  • Developing a Plan
communication and group dynamics see the worksheet in the materials
All employees

All faculty members

All administrators

All staff members

Faculty Senate

Department meetings

Department retreats

Training meetings (advising, new software, new policies)

Communication and Group DynamicsSee the worksheet in the materials.
  • How often should this group meet?
  • What topics should be addressed?
  • What types of planning should occur?
  • What types of decisions should be made?
  • What should be done to promote inclusive discussions?
  • Should the meetings of this group be mostly philosophical, mostly practical, or somewhere between?
leading change goals for this session
Leading ChangeGoals for This Session
  • Consider different approaches regarding the need for change in higher education
  • Discuss when change is desirable and when it’s not
  • Explore how change is perceived by our stakeholders
  • Examine how change should occur when it is advantageous to pursue it
two approaches to leadership and change

“If you are satisfied with the world as it is, you should never become a university president.”

--One current university president


“More problems are caused in the world today by people who cannot work with things as they are than by anything else.”

--Another current university president

Two Approaches to Leadershipand Change
the first view
The First View
  • Some people believe that change is always needed just to “shake things up”
    • “If institutions don’t progress, they start to regress”
    • “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” --Winston Churchill
    • “If change isn’t initiated from the top, it will probably never occur”
the second view
The Second View
  • Significant change can place high demands for time on energy on faculty and staff
    • Is the change you envision more important than teaching?
    • Is the change you envision more important than research?
    • Because the more time you devote to any one activity, the less you devote to any other.
So …
  • What or whom does the change most benefit?
    • The institution?
    • Current and future students?
    • The faculty?
    • Society and the region?
    • Or your own sense that you’ve made a difference?

The institution you serve would not have achieved its current greatness if it hadn’t done many things right.

a matter of opinion
A Matter of Opinion

Which point of view do you agree with more?

  • Change is both inevitable and usually beneficial. Academic leaders need to be advocates for continual change to make sure that their institutions remain vibrant and “on the cutting edge.”


  • There are more things worth preserving in higher education today than there are problems for which substantive change is required. The constant call for change by academic leaders ends up doing more harm than good.
a matter of opinion exercise 3
A Matter of OpinionExercise #3
  • What we want to change arises from core values and beliefs
  • Let’s continue exploring what yours are by completing this exercise
  • Then we’ll discuss the various points of view that people have
two other approaches to leadership and change

Gradual and incremental building

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


“The big idea”

“You can’t cross a twelve-foot canyon with two six-foot jumps.”

Two Other Approaches to Leadership and Change
leadership and change
Leadership and Change
  • As academic leaders, we typically wish to be pro-active about change.

but …

  • Most stakeholders in an institution more quickly “buy into” a change that is necessary due to external forces than they do to a “pre-emptive” change.
leadership and change so remember
People more readily accept changes that result from external forces

But changes resulting from internal forces can be more creative and effective

So, while you should never mislead people about the need for a change or (even worse) seek change for its own sake…

… it is beneficial to anticipate the forces that will make change necessary before others see them and clearly convey these easons to others

Leadership and ChangeSo, Remember …
nine steps to effective change 1 of 2
1. Identify for yourself the reason for change in terms that will be compelling to as many stakeholders as possible

Communicate the reasons for and the probable benefits of this change early and often

Create clear ownership of and leadership for the change

Develop and follow a practical plan for the change  

Nine Steps to Effective Change1 of 2
nine steps to effective change 2 of 2
Empower the type of broad-based action (i.e., beyond the leadership group) necessary to create the change

6. Maintain a focus on the end result

7. Celebrate each success along the way 

Make these new approaches permanent in the way your unit sees its mission (“anchor the new ideas in the culture”)

Put as much energy into sustaining the change as you do initiating it

Nine Steps to Effective Change2 of 2

What are some of the things that need to be changed in:

  • The area that you supervise?
  • Your institution?
  • Higher education in the KSA?
  • Higher education in general?
stress and academic leadership goals for this session
Stress and Academic LeadershipGoals for This Session
  • Explore the major causes of stress in an academic setting
  • Assess your own potential for stress
  • Look at six practical ways for academic leaders to reduce stress
  • Sum up today’s workshop

What causes stress in your professional life?

  • Stress inducers (causes)
  • Stress reactions (effects)
exercise 4 1
Exercise #4.1
  • Let’s examine your current reactions to stress.
  • Take the self-assessment in your materials.
  • Count the number of time you circled TRUE.
  • Write that number in the blank at the bottom of the page.
  • You deal with stress very effectively.
  • In a crisis, you’re likely to maintain enough energy to cope with the challenge.
  • Stress is very unlikely to make you ill or to interfere with your work.
  • You’ll probably have many good suggestions to make to others here today.
  • You deal with stress adequately but can improve.
  • If you suffer severe or prolonged stress, it could affect your health or make you less effective in your work.
  • Pay close attention to the tips we’ll cover on coping with stress, and add your own suggestions.
10 12
  • You deal with stress ineffectively.
  • Stress may already be affecting your health.
  • In addition to considering the approach to stress management that we’ll address, you may want to discuss this issue with a doctor.
six approaches
Six Approaches
  • Basic health issues.
  • The present.
  • The breath.
  • The environment.
  • Critical analysis.
  • Making stress your ally.
basic health issues
Basic Health Issues
  • Stay physically active
  • Get a full night’s sleep as often as you can
  • Eat well balanced meals
  • As often as possible, take time with meals
  • Recognize any correlation between consumption of caffeinated beverages and experiences of high stress
the present
The Present
  • Is the “stress inducer” right here, right now? Is it an immediate threat?
  • If it’s in the past, you can’t recapture or undo it.
  • If it’s in the future, it’s not here yet.
    • You can still affect (even if you can’t control) the future.
    • And why worry about what you can’t control?
  • In what way is the present moment perfect just as it is?
    • In what way is where you are right now the best possible place to be?
the breath
The Breath
  • It necessarily grounds us in the present moment.
  • We breath automatically and without thought so, when we focus on it, our thoughts become “contentless.”

 the preoccupation with the stress inducer goes away

  • It is the perfect metaphor for how we should approach things.
    • We can’t cling to it or hold it.
    • We have to let it come and go naturally.
  • It causes us to focus on the connection between ourselves and the outside world.
  • We breathe everywhere, so you can reorient your thoughts to your breath anywhere.
the environment
The Environment
  • Identify environments that seem to trigger stress
  • Are there ways in which you can make your own workspace a less stressful environment?
    • Less glare and harsh lighting
    • Unobtrusive, calming sound (ambient music, water effects)
    • Subtle, calming aromas (vanilla, lavender)
  • Seek acceptable ways of postponing reactions to situations when you are upset, angry, or extremely anxious
    • When you can’t change your environment, try changing your location.
critical analysis 1 of 3
Critical Analysis1 of 3
  • Explore the root causes of stress, not just the surface causes
  • Examine but do not “feed” what you are experiencing.
    • “This is what it feels like to be …”
    • “Now I am aware that I am …”

This is the single best strategy you can adopt.

  • Update and thoroughly review your résumé at least once each year
  • Control the things you cancontrol
critical analysis 2 of 3
Critical Analysis2 of 3
  • When you can’t control things, remember that you can control your reactions
    • “He made me so angry …”
    • “Their recklessness made me so tense …”
  • Break large challenges into manageable parts
  • Give yourself permission to “release” matters that you can’t control
critical analysis 3 of 3
Critical Analysis3 of 3
  • When you’re feeling anxious, see if you can identify the pessimummalum
    • Why do you fear each thing that you fear?
    • What is the worst thing that could happen?
    • Why is that so terrible?
  • Remember:

Pain is inevitable.

Suffering is optional.

making stress your ally
Making Stress Your Ally
  • Think of positive connotations of stress: excitement, energy, thrill reframe
  • Be mindfully aware of stress reactions: What am I anxious about?
    • Is it an immediate threat?
    • If not, how does it remind me to focus on something more important?
exercise 4 2 your personal preference for excitement 1 of 2
Exercise #4.2Your Personal Preference for Excitement1 of 2
  • Complete Exercise #4.2 in the materials as directed.
  • If your score for the left column is 8 or higher, you are low on the sensation-seeking scale.
    • A great deal of excitement will cause you stress.
  • If your score for the right column is 8 or higher, you are high on the sensation-seeking scale.
    • A great deal of excitement will energize you.
exercise 4 2 your personal preference for excitement 2 of 2
Exercise #4.2Your Personal Preference for Excitement2 of 2
  • If both of your scores are under 8, you are in the normal range on the sensation-seeking scale.
    • Some types of excitement will cause you stress.
    • Other types will energize you.
    • It will be particularly important for you to recognize which is which.
exercise 4 3 1 of 2
Exercise #4.31 of 2
  • Think of something that gives you great joy.
    • Consider how your body reacts.
  • Think about something that makes you feel a great deal of stress or pressure.
    • Again, consider how your body reacts.
  • We’re going to alternate between between these two sensations several times.
exercise 4 3 2 of 2
Exercise #4.32 of 2
  • Now, the next time you feel those physical reactions to stress or pressure …
  • … remember what you did just now to “switch off” those tense feelings …
  • … and “switch on” the calmer, more joyous feelings.
  • Whenever you need to do so, use that same positive thought as a catalyst.

What are some positive approaches that you’ve used to deal with stress?

positive thinking
Positive Thinking


Capable of seeing only the good


Capable of finding a good or preferable outcome

negative thinking
Negative Thinking


Introduce a positive observation into a group conversation.

Observe how long it takes before the first negative observation is made.

One Way of Viewing Challengesfrom The Essential Academic DeanIs the problem facing the area that I supervise …?
  • … likely to be solved through intervention?
  • … unlikely to be solved, but able to be managed?
  • … unlikely to be solved or managed, but able to be isolated?
  • … unlikely to be solved, managed, or isolated?
another way of viewing challenges from the essential department chair
Another Way of Viewing Challengesfrom The Essential Department Chair
  • What’s the best that I could hope for if I intervene?
  • What’s the best I could hope for if I did nothing?
  • What is the worst damage I could cause through intervention?
  • What’s the worst that could happen if I did nothing?
on interpersonal conflict from the essential college professor
On Interpersonal Conflictfrom The Essential College Professor

It takes two people to keep a conflict going …

… but it only takes one to end it.

appendices in the handout
Appendices in the Handout

A: Qualities of effective leaders

B: Self-evaluation: What do you do best?

C: How confrontational are you?

D: Are you too rigid?

five excellent resources
Five Excellent Resources
  • Ancona, D., & Bresman, H. (2007). X-teams: How to build teams that lead, innovate and succeed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
  • Huszczo, G. (2004). Tools for team leadership: Delivering the X-factor in team eXcellence. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.
  • Leeds, D. (1987) Smart Questions. New York, NY: Berkley Books.
  • Lencioni, P.M. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Staver, M. (1997). 21 ways to defuse anger & calm people. Boulder, CO: CareerTrack.
please remember
Please Remember

All published by Jossey-Bass.



Are there any major issues that you’d still like to discuss?