Investing in Academic Leadership Training

Carissa Gray

December 2, 2022


Developing academic leadership skills is a skill that requires some form of training. Research has shown that successful leaders strongly commit to their profession and desire to improve. However, many higher education institutions lack these skills and do not offer formal leadership training.

Research on leadership in higher education

Across the globe, there are many challenges facing higher education institutions. One of the most prominent is the rapid rise of innovation. Educators need to be prepared for this change. They must be able to work with diverse audiences and engage in activities to help them meet these challenges.

While higher education faces many challenges, the field has also become a source of inspiration. Many faculty are encouraged to pursue leadership positions as they grow. However, more resources must be available for faculty moving into academic leadership positions.

The Center for Social Solutions has launched a new initiative called the Academic Leadership Institute (ALI) to provide faculty with training and mentoring to help them advance in their careers. ALI is also cultivating a network of faculty of color and other underrepresented groups to support rising academic leaders.

Lack of training in leadership skills

Leadership training is essential for universities, colleges, and other educational institutions. A study shows that most academics aspire to become leaders in their fields but lack the necessary skills.

In an academic context, leadership combines adaptability, creativity, and knowledge. To become a successful leader, one must manage complexity, promote academic reputation, and motivate others. Leadership training programs are available for instructors, advisers, and task forces.

According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2021, leaders spend an average of four hours a week learning. Training programs help leaders learn how to engage teams that are dispersed across countries and continents.

Challenges in research-teaching institutions

Various studies have attempted to identify the best leadership practices in research-teaching institutions. These studies are often conducted using different research methods, such as questionnaire surveys, grounded theory, and case studies. While many of these studies may focus on a particular leadership practice, the findings can be leveraged to change a school’s approach to a specific issue.

One such practice is the creation of interdisciplinary, synergistic scholarly partnerships. These partnerships can lead to new teaching designs, increase institutional prestige, and improve commercial relationships. Similarly, a collaborative network can help introduce humanistic values to the public debate.

Another example is using technology to augment the creation of scholarly work. For instance, Sunoikisis, a global educational technology company, uses technology to enrich collaborative research and instruction.

Characteristics of a successful leader

A leader must possess certain characteristics to succeed, whether you are a teacher, a coach, or an administrator. Among these qualities are commitment, curiosity, and the ability to motivate others.

The ability to take the time to do a bit of research and analysis before making a decision is a hallmark of a good leader. Good leadership is also about putting the team’s needs above one’s own.

The best leaders can inspire others and create a fun and collaborative environment where people are willing to do the work. They also motivate the team by giving them a clear vision of what they need to accomplish.

Emerging leadership skills

ALA Fellows build on emerging leadership skills as they participate in a program developed by the American Library Association. Former ALA President Leslie Burger created the ALA Emerging Leaders program to put new library workers on a fast track to leadership. The ALA Office manages it for Human Resource Development and Recruitment.

The EL program includes a six-month program for participation in LibLearnX and the ALA Annual Conference. Each year, the program trains up to 100 new librarians. ALA divisions, state chapters, and ALA affiliate organizations sponsor the program. It has been praised as a great way for new library workers to develop their leadership skills.

Creating a leadership culture

Creating a “leadership culture” within the larger institutional landscape of academic leadership is a challenge. In this context, an organizational framework can help reduce conflict and make it possible to assess the effectiveness of an institution’s leadership processes. A lack of a framework can lead to a subjective discussion of administrative work and criticism of executive positions.

While several academic leadership programs have been developed nationally, a universal framework is needed. This is because the knowledge and skill sets necessary for leadership effectiveness have changed dramatically. In addition, the challenges faced by higher education institutions are innumerable and often transcend departmental boundaries.