Exploring Principled Leadership in Higher Education: A Study of Presidents’, Provosts’, and Deans’ Leadership Approaches while Managing a Change Agenda
Scott, Donald E.
AuthorBlanchard, Sharon Elizabeth
Committee MemberWinchester, Ian A. N.
Jacques, Fred J.
Kowch, Eugene G.
Concerns-based Adoption Model
Ethic of care
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AbstractThe research study explored university leaders’ understanding of leadership, beliefs and values, and approaches to their role with a view to further examine the conceptualization of principled leadership within a change management context. The key proposition of the study was to identify what it is that promotes leader effectiveness when navigating change and whether the conceptualization of principled leadership as defined within the study was connected to this process. The literature review provided insights into the concepts that supported the research study surrounding the conceptualization of principled leadership and included three key elements: authenticity (identity), spirituality, love (care), and the factors influencing the study that included: leading change, humanistic-type leadership theories (servant, authentic, spiritual, ethical/moral, emotionally intelligent, transformational), and the leadership challenge in higher education. To further explore leadership, this study focused particularly on those leaders who were involved in strategic decision-making for their university, impacting organizational purpose, or who had an overall responsibility for it, such as presidents, vice presidents, associate vice presidents, directors, and deans. This study utilized a mixed methodology research approach underpinned by the pragmatic philosophical orientation or paradigm. The methods that were utilized in this study involved a questionnaire that was administered to university senior administration consisting of presidents, vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, deans, and directors, and semi-structured interviews conducted by the researcher. The mixed methodology was framed within the discovery dimension of Appreciative Inquiry. There were 27 participants involved in the survey and 33 participants completed the interview. i The results are summarized through six overarching themes and subthemes that emerged from the semi-structured interviews and statistical analysis of the quantitative data. The six themes are: 1. Understanding Self as Leader: Leadership Values; 2. Leadership Beliefs; 3. Leadership in Service of, and, Caring for Others; 4. The Challenges of Leading the Academy; 5. Leadership Influences; and, 6. Navigating Change. This study provided evidence where the leader not only incorporated elements of the authentic leadership construct but also chose to love, care, and be in the service of others in the workplace. Integrating ‘spirituality’ as part of an authentic leadership construct was not consistently or overtly evident in leadership participants’ responses, however, many acknowledged that spirit, heart, and energy were important to their leadership practice. This provided evidence that to be principled could require an awareness and integration of love through care and service however it may not necessarily be connected to the leaders’ spiritual or religious values and beliefs. The findings indicated that presidents and their senior leadership teams, while acknowledging the intense challenges of their institutional mandates as well as in managing people, work from a place of authenticity where honesty, integrity, and trust are critical, have a high degree of respect for the people with whom they work, a profound sense of responsibility for their welfare, and an incredibly humane approach to their leadership stance with a high degree of care shown. Based on the results of this study, The Principled Leadership Development Model was created to address the needs identified throughout this study for leadership training. This study will be of interest to higher education administration and academe, government agencies, education providers, professional associations, professional development providers, and leaders.
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