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 the past few months I have been reading the book 30 Life Principles by Charles Stanley with my Thursday morning men’s bible study. This is an excellent book and I would highly suggest checking it out. This past week, I read a section of this book which had good application for leadership and professional development that I wanted to share: Life Principle #25 – God Blesses us so that we may Bless Others.
I work at Dallas Baptist University, where we talk a lot about Servant Leadership. Reading through this book, and reflecting on the concepts of Servant Leadership, I wanted to share a couple of important ideas of why it is vital for leaders to be obsessed about serving others:
1) God gives each of us all unique abilities and resources.
You may feel that you don’t have much to offer people, or you may be confused about what your talents, abilities or purpose is. Realize that if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, God gives you a tremendous gift that you can use to bless others. That is a promise!
1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Romans 12:5-8 says, “In Christ, we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
2) These Abilities and Resources have been given to us in order to bless others and build His kingdom.
We need to realize that the reason God has given us such immense blessings (abilities and resources) was so that we would use them for His glory and for the furtherance of the gospel. God’s gifts to you were never meant to be hoarded. They were given to be used wisely as you serve others through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
We are most effective as leaders when we intentionally use our talents and abilities in our work, our ministry, and all other aspects of our lives to serve others.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service”. Romans 8:28 tells us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
3) We have a choice whether we are going to encounter God to discover these abilities, then use them to bless others and honor Him.
Our love for God and others motivates us to serve, it inspires us to give freely so that others can be blessed and one day come to know salvation and enter into a relationship with Him. However, we have a choice as to whether we are going to our abilities for our own purposes, or bless others.
Only you can stop God’s goodness, the abilities he has given you, from flowing through your life and into the lives of others— and you do it by hoarding His gifts.
Acts 20:35 says; ” In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Luke 12:32-34 tells us, “It is our Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom … a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32–34)
4) Are you using your gifts in a way that honors God and blesses others?
I used to selfishly use what God has given me to pursue after money, power, recognition, and personal gain. I can promise you these pursuits will not end well. You will be left empty, without meaning, and alone. You will end up with a perpetual state of chasing after stuff the rest of your life. I do not want that for you! Purpose and meaning is found alone in Christ.
Therefore, look for opportunities to use your talents and resources to love and serve others. Then watch how God works. Soon you’ll see that it truly is much more blessed to give than to receive.
As leaders, we need to model the way, using our talents to invest into others through mentoring, and showing that through our words, actions, and decisions we truly desire to serve others. We need to take intentional opportunities to help others find what their abilities are and how they can practically demonstrate their love for others through their calling to bless others.
We are told the only thing that will last the test of time is the gospel and the church. I don’t know about you, but I want to build something that lasts forever!
Cited Source: Stanley, C. F. (2008). 30 life principles: Study guide. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson.
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