by Lisa D. Hobson, Ph.D., President of the Texas Association of College Teachers
Recently, many higher education stakeholders and patrons have noted the various changes in university leadership positions across the state and nation. These leadership adjustments occurred through different reasons including: promotions, lack of leadership, fiscal mismanagement, moral ineptitude, political fractions, and/or failures to uphold established norms and mores. When changes in leadership are made as a result of negligence, errors, financial weaknesses, etc., these types of situations impact our institutions beyond just the media attention and exposure and have long-term impacts. Beyond changes in the positions, leaders have change responsibilities too.
Buller (2015) defines five types of change leaders: (a) renovators (producers of incremental changes); (b) borrowers (producers of changes copied from other institutions); (c) combiners (producers of infused changes copied and borrowed from multiple institutions); (d) planners(producers of incremental changes over long periods of time); and (e) redefiners (producers of complete institutional transformations; pp. 212-213). These change roles are important, valid, and necessary and each have a level of effectiveness, with Redefiners as the most effective change leaders. Reflecting upon Bolman and Deal’s Four Frames of Leadership, Buller’s change roles are important to identify and support the Structural frame (Bolman and Deal, 2019) of a leaders’ duties.
As a leader, one can be a change agent, but s/he has other roles too. When new leaders replace former leaders who were removed by force or directives, these new leaders have a more complex role in navigating the institutional culture and facilitating change. Although changes may be mandated, compliance-oriented, or legally-driven, the leader must recognize team members (whether subordinates or superordinates) are not only employees, but also people.
Of Bolman and Deal’s (2019) frames, there is also a Human Resources frame. After onboarding and entry into the new role, although the new leader may be effective at completing tasks and responsibilities and accomplishing performance metrics, this individual must have balance in interacting with and leading people. From personal experience and through a steep learning curve, I have found team members require time to heal and accept the changes to and from the new leader in ideal settings, but even more so in facilitated/directed and/or struggling settings. These change roles are essential, valid, necessary and valuable. It’s important to recognize where one is as a leader personally and where one operates at the institutional, system, and state levels and the grand scheme of events and interactions. Beyond the tasks, the leader has a role to manage the cultural and climate elements too. Effective management requires (a) knowledge, (b) leadership, (c) organization, (d) wisdom, and (e) maturity. Balancing the goals with the realities of organizations necessitates competence in all five traits. In our often politically influenced environments in Texas, I have found these five traits are even more apropos.
See article references below. For additional dialogue, contact me via email – Lisadhobson@gmail.com.
Buller, J. L. (2015). Change leadership in higher education: A practical guide to academic transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Wiley.
Bolman, L. G. (2019). Reframing the path to school leadership: A guide for teachers and principals (3rd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin-Sage Publications.
Lisa D. Hobson, Ph. D.