A Perspective on Academic Leadership as the Foundation of Education

        A Perspective on Academic Leadership as the Foundation of      


“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

~ John C. Maxwell

Leadership in academia generally receives less attention than that in business world because of the fact that both are considered completely segregated arena in our community. Do we really know the significance and relevance of leadership in education system? The of this indifference  being that perhaps most of the academicians have come into higher education because of their passion for their subject rather than with the thought and objective of becoming an administrator and manager  or because it is not strongly valued in the reward system. Academic leadership comprises of various positions with managing group of various sizes such as Vice Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Department Chair and Associate Chair, Dean, Associate Dean, of undergraduate and post graduate schools, Faculties, Senate members, Directors of research centres, Board of studies members, and lots of other positions in the universities and colleges.

Knowledge and education is the driving force in rapidly changing economic condition in India, due to which we have seen the spurt growth in the higher education institutions in our country. This surge becomes an impetus factor to call for some serious attentions in the area of academic leadership. Though it is but obvious that the nature of academic leadership is relatively different from business leadership, however the significance of leadership in academia cannot be undermined. It calls for profound understanding and outlining the institutional mission, vision and goals which defines purpose and shapes the functioning style. Moreover, the success of an education institution is not just measured by the profit only but in terms of quality education and placements of students. Educational institutions require precise governance, which is sharing of responsibility at different level that involves domain expertise for leading the institution. The delivery of education comprises of complex and variety of mix elements such as teaching, research, pedagogical tools, service, assignments, examinations, assessments and finally diffusion of various programs. The success of education depends upon the teaching-learning process, which is the crux of academic leadership.

The core mission of an educational institute relates to teaching, research, and grooming of students who contribute in long run to the community welfare. The key aspect of academic leadership is visualization. Leaders must have an understanding of core activities of each department; in some cases, they need to have extensive knowledge and the ability to undertake those activities themselves. They must participate in the aspects of running departments that are crucial for the institution’s survival. The financial management must be fully understood by the leaders. Academic leaders are often chosen on the basis of their success in research.  If they are good at research, they command the respect of researchers and they encourage research activities.  Institutions are run by people; hence the leader’s people skill matters. How a leader deals with them, their concerns, requests and development is obviously crucial. Most importantly, leaders are not judged by their own individual accomplishments, such as important publications or teaching awards, although achieving these establishes credibility. Leaders are judged by the successes of their subordinates.  They do not operate in a vacuum; getting advice and feedback from people is an important aspect of academic leadership.

Today we need academic leaders who work on programs in accordance with the business environment requirements. Keeping the syllabus updated at regular intervals, giving importance to research, formulating effective policies, and most importantly giving priority to the welfare of students is crucial. Leadership in education generally receives less attention in our country than it should. It is time that the new Government looks into the matter and takes remedial action.


-Rajni Sharma

Asst. Professor THDC English Deptt , Tehri , UK


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