Many view change as a scary undertaking. For some, venturing into new, unknown, undiscovered territory could be a horrific concept. Frankly speaking, many people in business, higher education, and professional circles are perfectly comfortable with the “same-ole-same-ole”. They hate the idea of change. Yikes!!!
Embodying effective change is a necessity that all leaders need to grasp. Today, our global world changes at an incredibly rapid pace. Organizations can quickly go from competitive to obsolete, almost immediately. Change is one consistent behavior as a leader that we all need to adopt if our organizations are to grow.
Reluctance to change can especially be the case within higher education. It is true, sometimes we in higher education move at a glacier pace. Imagine that!
When I first started serving as a higher education administrator, I was given some excellent words of wisdom regarding change that have served me well these past 10 years.
“Inch-by-Inch and it’s a Sinch”.
This simple saying communicates a wonderful and powerful concept of how to move small change into large charge. Slowly, surely, and consistently over time small change can lead to large charge.
If you want an effective way to drive large charge, it needs to start with a cluster of small ideas, which over time come together to shape large, impactful change. I have found that this is an approach that has worked well when encouraging change for higher education.
There are a few reasons why I believe this to be the case:
- Small charge is less scary than massive, large change. Therefore, it is easier for people within your organization to adopt.
- Small change allows for you to “test case” to be sure you are driving “effective change” in the right direction.
- Small, incremental change allows you line up an army of champions, influencers, and key decision makers to support large change. As a leader, if you are driving big change, you are cannot do it alone. You are going to need an army to advocate and support the change you are driving.
- Large change is much harder to plan for and execute. Accomplishing small change victories over a consistent period of time will add up to long-term, big change. Plus, it is much easier for you to do. (Remember, how do you eat a whale? One small bite at a time).
Remember, change is a good thing when it improves your organization and makes a better impact for those you serve!
“Inch-by-Inch and it’s a Sinch”.
I love how we get the opportunity to change, and to change often! If you embody this type of thinking, then the best is truly yet to come!
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Leadership is in a sense a pattern of thinking that is shown through a leader’s behavior. This past weekend I read a very interesting study about effective leadership behavior within higher education. I would like to share with you the important points from that study.
This quantitative study asserted that if certain leadership patterns or behaviors were present, this would lead to improvements in the subsequent processes, and in turn the quality of services provided by the higher education institution.
These desirable leadership patterns are known as Bryman’s proposal of desirable higher education leadership behaviors.
Desirable Leadership Behavior for Higher Education
- A proactive approach to pursuing the university’s missions
- An emphasis on a visionary approach that guides and provides focus for what the leader seeks to achieve for the institution
- Being internally focused, and well connected in the institution, being seen and drawing inspiration from its participants
- Being externally focused, having a good understanding for higher education, and networking with a variety of constituents and reinforcing within those constituencies the direction the university is taking
- Having personal integrity
- Introducing changes in a way that entails consultation with others
- Importance of not sealing leaders off from the university at large
- Importance of not undermining pre-existing organizational culture
- Being flexible in approach to leadership
- Entrepreneurial and risk-taking
- Influencing the organizational culture and values to support change
- Designing structures to support change
In addition, this study identified another set of undesirable leadership behaviors to avoid within higher education:
Undesirable Leadership Behavior for Higher Education
- Failing to consult
- Not respecting existing values
- Actions that undermine collegiality
- Not promoting the interests of those for whom the leader is responsible
- Being uninvolved in the life of the department or institution
- Undermining autonomy
- Allowing the department or institution to drift
I pray this is a good encouragement for you higher education leaders out there. I will leave you with this excellent quote and bible verse;
“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” – John Scott
But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. – Matthew 20:26
Flumerfelt, S., & Banachowski, M. (July 12, 2011). Understanding leadership paradigms for improvement in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 19, 3, 224-247.
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Over this past month I have had the opportunity to visit the countries of China and India to talk about education. Specifically, higher education. In fact, I am actually writing this blog while I am flying from Hyderabad to Mumbai, India.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I believe that we each have a purpose in this life. Purpose is a deep rooted belief that what you are doing has meaning and value not only for yourself but also for those around you. Purpose can be associated with finding meaning in your vocation, within your family, your church, or through the personal activities you participate in. Purpose is timeless.
Over the last 3-years, I have traveled to over twelve countries in the developing world. During my travels, I have learned that we all long for purpose and meaning in this world. This is where I believe education has its role. I believe that the university is a mechanism that God uses to unlock purpose for the individual.
Education is valuable everywhere. In China, families save their entire lives to send their one and only child to study at a university in the United States. In Indonesia, church pastors desire for their entire congregations to know how their children can prepare for university study. In Colombia, students travel to an entirely different continent, culture, and city in order to learn English so that they have a hope to provide a better life for their families. There is not one country that I have traveled to which is not longing for education, and ultimately purpose and meaning in their lives.
Within education, the university is such an excellent place for students begin the self-discovery journey in front of God to find their purpose. The university is a melting pot of sorts. It is the place where you take students and create an intentional environment of learning. Here students interact with information and theory, as well as develop socially, emotional and spiritually, through experience. The hopeful result is to see a transformation in their lives, a “lightbulb experience”, where through these experiences students discover how their skills & abilities, personality & behavior, passions & desires come together and can be used to transition them into a life of purpose and meaning.
The result of higher education should be a person who can independently think and choose for themselves, can tell the difference between a groundless idea or one based on logic, and can positively use their energies in a way to impact their world and their communities.
The sociological, economical and humanitarian benefits to education are many. Right now, 95%+ of this world does not have a college education. This is an unlimited market for transformation to occur. This is an almost never ending supply of people who could be guided to find their purpose and understand how they a have reason for living! I believe God has a plan to use education as this mechanism to point people to Him and help them to unlock their purpose.
I am excited for the potential that education has for this world! I am excited to see how education can change the world!
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I have spent the last few years pondering the purpose for Higher Education, specifically the reason for the University. I have considered this reason and can find no better definition than by citing Colombia Professor Andrew Delbanco’s purpose for the university; a place where students are shown how to think and how to choose.
I believe the setting for the American university must be a place where challenging discussions are encouraged, where critical ideas presented and new experiences relating to knowledge are passed onto students. An important component to encourage this kind of environment should be academic freedom — the freedom for discussion, the freedom in teaching and also in research, all in the pursuit of truth.
We must encourage our young students to engage in critical discussion, self-exploration and other measures in order for them to independently learn how to think and how to choose. What better place for this discussion to take place than at the University.
I have come to believe that all pursuits for truth will ultimately lead to one final destination, the understanding that all wisdom is inherently derived from the one true God, who by the grace of Jesus Christ, can we fully have a relationship and understand our purpose in life. I strongly believe that the encouragement for academic freedom also encourages faith in God, rather than refute His existence. Therefore, I consider academic freedom, guided with a belief in the one true, living God and of Jesus Christ, to be of critical importance to that of the university.
I believe that higher education will loose a powerful transformative component if it is not linked to that of Christian perspective. Furthermore, students who are discouraged away from the ideas of faith and the search for purpose, which can only be found through Christ, are lacking a massive piece of their education.
I am reminded of the quote, “Wisdom in knowledge, rightly applied”. You may attain a tremendous amount of knowledge at the University, but what sense does that knowledge have if it is not rightly applied through an understanding that all knowledge ultimately comes from and is used in service of God.
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