eTheses Repository

The journey to leadership: a study of how leader-academics in higher education learn to lead

Inman, Margaret (2007)
Ed.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

Loading
PDF (659Kb)

Abstract

There has been a significant increase in interest in the development of Educational Leadership in recent years, not least in the school sector. However, little research exists on how leaders in higher education have learnt to lead, particularly those in ‘middle-leadership’ positions such as heads of faculties and departments. This study explores the journey to leadership of eighteen leader-academics within six chartered and statutory universities in the south of Wales and the west of England. Semi-structured biographical interviews were used between November 2005 and April 2006 to secure academics’ perceptions of their own life history, including the significance of their formative years, career trajectories, motivations, training and less formal learning, to equip them with the necessary attributes to lead. The findings show that the nature of leadership for middle-level leaders in higher education is complex and demanding and requires a combination of management and leadership skills. Formal professional development for leadership was relatively uncommon. The majority of what leaders do is learnt, self-taught and acquired throughout their life history. The influence of critical incidents and significant people has a profound effect on how leaders have learnt to lead. This study captures insights which should inform the future research agenda in higher education and highlights the possible inadequacies of formal leadership development for leader-academics in higher education. The challenge is to bring the informal processes of learning gained throughout a leader’s life history into a meaningful context for professional development. By doing so, training and development initiatives can be brought into the leader’s real world in a structured way to become more relevant and productive to those who participate. Strategies include the establishment of formal mentoring systems, encouraging the formation of networks and providing guided critical reflection on practice, whilst promoting opportunities for collective articulation and sharing of experiences. A suggested framework for integrated leadership development is proposed to enable middle-level leader-academics to experience more planned and meaningful development. This should then enhance those aspects of leadership which have been acquired through individual life histories and consequently should better equip them to support, manage and lead their faculties.

Type of Work:Ed.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Rhodes, Christopher
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Education
Department:Education
Subjects:LB2300 Higher Education
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:158
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
Export Reference As : ASCII + BibTeX + Dublin Core + EndNote + HTML + METS + MODS + OpenURL Object + Reference Manager + Refer + RefWorks
Share this item :
QR Code for this page

Repository Staff Only: item control page