Guided Pathway: Leadership

“So You’ve Just Become a Department Head …”

 
Whether you have actively sought out the position or are simply taking your turn as chair or head, many people underestimate the demands placed upon an academic leader and the skills that can help guide the direction of an academic unit. The NCPRE Leadership Collection provides resources and perspectives, as well as develop some of the tangible skills crucial to leading others in academia. Most of these resources are relevant also to other academic leadership roles.
 
These assets range in the level of detail they contain: from quick overviews to deeper analyses and explorations of the research literature. We hope this guide can be useful across a spectrum of contexts: whether you have a lot of time to invest in learning more or simply need a quick refresher; whether you are early in your career or later on; whether you are looking for introductory guides on basic topics or more detailed discussions of advanced issues; this guide will have something for you.
 
Feel free to explore the assets we have collected below:
  
  • Quick Tips (~5 min)

These are designed to provide a quick overview of what we consider be the most salient points on a particular topic. They are based upon what is known in the research literature, as well as advice and insights collected from many highly experienced experts in academia, learned over the course of long and successful careers.
  • Executive Briefings (~15 min)

For those who are looking to invest a bit more time and are seeking a more in-depth discussion, our Executive Briefings are distilled from what is understood within the research literature and provide a more nuanced exploration of a particular topic.
  • Annotated Bibliographies (~10 min)

If you are looking to expand your search and really immerse yourself in the field of knowledge on a particular subject, we have created a number of useful annotated bibliographies to help you find the right resource.
  • Videos (~5+ min)

Our video library contains a robust and continuously expanding collection of interviews with prominent academic leaders from institutions all over the country. In clips that range from 2-6 minutes each, our experts discuss a variety of topics critical to academic leadership. Depending on what you are seeking, you can spend just a few minutes hearing about a specific topic, or hours availing yourself of the wisdom collected in these interviews.
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Introductory Topics & Overviews

Stepping into a new leadership position for the first time can be overwhelming. Here are some guides and checklists to help you cover the basics and stay organized while you make the transition.
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  • Becoming an Authority Figure (QT & AB)
 
Being an authority figure is very different from being an employee, and the way you interact with your colleagues can and should change significantly. Here are some useful tips on how to approach these changes.
 
  • Preparing For Your New Position (QT)
 
There are many things you can begin thinking about in order to mentally prepare yourself for a new post. This guide gets you started on the right foot.
 
 
Here we have a myriad of materials that range from helping you think about big picture issues for leading a unit, to useful checklists and additional resources when making a major transition.
 
Possible videos:
[links to videos go here]
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Leadership Skills and Habits

We regard the transition to leadership as comprising a set of specific, learnable skills. The skill set required of a good leader is robust and varied. Here we discuss some of the most important skills a leader needs to be effective and influential.
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  • Listening and Asking Questions (QT)
 
Some people new to positions of leadership think that it is all about telling others what to do. In fact, we view the role primarily in terms of good communication skills. In order to make the best decisions you have to have the best information, and developing the skill of asking the right questions is invaluable in this regard. Additionally, few things build an influential professional reputation faster than being regarded as a good listener. 
 
  • Negotiation (QT)
 
We negotiate in social situations and at work far more often than most people realize. This guide will provide you with specific tools to recognize negotiations more easily and navigate them more effectively. 
 
  • Performance Management & Feedback (QT & AB)
 
One of the most challenging tasks for a leader is to sit down with your colleagues and critique their performance, particularly when they might have formerly been your peers, or even friends. Here we cover some of the best practices, as well as the “do’s and don’ts” of giving feedback. 
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  • Personal Scripts (QT)
Have you ever found yourself not knowing what to say in an awkward or difficult conversation? Not having the right words to be able to say “no” politely, or disagree with someone without escalating an argument? This short guide will assist you in crafting some go-to phrases and scripts so that you are better equipped to handle conversations that you are concerned or anxious about.
 
  • And Stance (QT)
 
A useful technique for helping potentially difficult conversations to remain productive and prevent escalation.
 
  • Understanding & Managing Teams (QT)
 
The dynamics of human interactions are complicated at the individual level, and become even more so when you add a group project, goal or task into the mix. Here we discuss some of the aspects of interacting with and leading a team.
 
  • Time Management (QT & AB)
 
Your time was valuable before you became a leader; after making the transition it will become even more precious as you attempt to fulfill not only your own needs but those of the people you supervise as well. Sensible practices for managing your time will save you a lot of headaches.
 
  • Self-Awareness & Reflection (QT & EB)
 
A good leader is never done learning and growing. As you advance through your career, it will take careful and honest introspection to identify the areas you want to work on improving the most.
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Possible videos:
[links to videos go here]
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Leadership Theory

While tangible skills are high in utility, it is just as important to contemplate the aspects of quality leadership that lie in evolving your understanding, ways of thinking and philosophies.
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  • Leadership Essentials (QT, EB & AB)
 
An overview of the essential elements, both practical and philosophical, necessary to leading in academia.
 
  • Ethical Challenges of Leadership (QT)
  • Effect of Leader’s Conduct on Ethics of a Team (QT)
 
These assets discuss the high degree of influence – often in ways you might not think about – that a leader has on their unit. Small acts; ways of talking, dressing or carrying oneself; even old habits you don’t think about – all of them are seen and processed by your subordinates more potently than most people imagine.
 
  • Cognitive Bias & Errors (QT & EB)
 
Every single one of us are susceptible to cognitive biases, and leaders are no exception. The only real difference is that the ramifications of making poor decisions or mistakes due to cognitive biases are proportionally greater when you are a leader thus it is even more important to be aware of them.
 
Possible videos:
[links to videos go here]
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Advanced Topics

Already got the basics down? Here are some more advanced topics to start thinking about that can help you to take the quality and success of your department from good to great.
 
  • Creating & Sustaining a Culture of Excellence (QT)
 
The basics are one thing, how do you set about making your department an exemplar of excellence and success within your field? In this resource, University of Illinois President Emeritus Robert Easter discusses some aspects of how to foster and build the right culture in your unit.
 
  • Managing Change (QT)
Change is hard, and it isn’t always apparent why. This asset attempts to explore why change can be so difficult, and how to approach and frame it in positive ways that will give you the best chance to implement it successfully.
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  • Dealing with a Disruptive Predecessor (QT)
  • Taking Over a Troubled Unit (QT)
 
When you assume leadership of a unit, there are no guarantees regarding what state it will be in. Maybe it will be in excellent shape! Maybe it will be in total disarray. There may be a myriad of reasons why taking over a unit may present you with challenges you never expected. Sometimes this may include a former leader of the unit who can’t quite “let go.” These assets explore some of these issues and what you can do about them.
 
  • Time to Go (QT)
 
For all things, there is an end. Eventually you will reach a point where you decide it is time to move on. Whether that is to some new and greater challenge, or to a peaceful and hard-earned retirement; here we discuss how and when to recognize the end of an appointment.
 
  • Succession Planning (QT)
 
Part of moving on is making sure your unit is well placed to succeed after you are gone.
 
Possible videos:
[links to videos go here]




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