What are the most effective leaders in Higher Education doing differently?

If we were to believe most TV shows and movies, we would think that to be successful in higher education, one needs a high degree of arrogance, self-importance, and even a tendency to isolate oneself. However, our findings on the behaviors associated with effectiveness in higher education leaders paint a very different picture. The more effective higher education leaders tend to display a collection of people and relationship skills: they communicate efficiently; they demonstrate a good degree of empathy; they seek others’ viewpoints; and they’re not forceful or overly assertive.

When we ignore the stereotypes and truly consider what goes on in higher education, these results make perfect sense. I have often heard that no one goes into higher education for the monetary rewards or for an easy job. On the contrary, many people are motivated to enter the field by a degree of selflessness and a drive to help others. Our results support that view and suggest that the social rewards might be more important.

This and other research demonstrate the need to use data to understand effective leadership. While there may be some truth to the stereotypes we often encounter, there is no arguing with empirical evidence.

To see what the most effective leaders in Higher Education are doing differently, click here to download the full Best Practice Report.


About the author

Maria is Head of Research at MRG. She loves a challenge and often gets a little too excited about running new studies. She finds peace and balance by cooking (as long as her husband is doing the cleaning) or being anywhere near the ocean.

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