Book launch - Leadership transitions in universities: arriving, surviving and thriving at the top - Shared screen with speaker view
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Our review of The New Power University: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/book-review-the-new-power-university-by-jonathan-grant/
Q: Assuming that effectiveness of recruitment and transition is measurable by quality of leadership, how are/should HE leaders be evaluated?
Mike Ratcliffe NTU
Although there’s quite a long tradition of VCs moving once they’d achieved the most senior role in a university, it was rare. The notion of a serial vice-chancellor has picked up in recent years; with those with an established track-record being appointed to a second VC job at another university.Does this change the dynamic?Bowen & McPherson (2016) point to potential problems when it’s clear that a leader will be looking to move on after a few years; that they won’t make necessary changes, preferring to manage the day-to-day business and then move on.
What measures of 'quality of leadership' are you referring to, Debbie?
Key different: Leaders who look to build a reputation vs. those looking to leave a legacy. Very different mindsets, approaches to time and task and to the value added of leadership.
Where do 'caretaker' VC's sit within this?
I have worked in two institutions which had VCs who were seen as only ever passing through. That changed the culture of the university where they were trying to change quite a lot, make an impact and move on, whills staff went underground/samizdat and waited until they had gone before emerging and reclaiming 'ownership' of their collectively owned institution.
Leadership transitions within the transition of the sector. See Donald Clark on the impact of on line learning in HE and the decline of conventional "teaching methods"
A future-looking diagnosis of leadership needs is probably what people think they're doing, depending on where their institution is in its development. How many in 2019 hired crisis leaders with the capacity for revolutionary change, which is what it turned out we all needed!?
To Debbie’s question on measuring leadership effectiveness also the case for boards and the headhunters - how effective are they in these transition (perhaps the next book …)
@Heidi the absence of such measures of quality is kind of my point - yet we all must have such measures in our minds, even unconsciously. And VCs do have performance targets (though I’m sceptical that is a very useful measure!)
Does shortlisting criteria recognise 'non-traditional' experience? The VC pathway seems quite established (typically).
"Woke" is a much misunderstood word. And keeps emerging in HE. Any thoughts on how VCs address this?
@Debbie. Yes. I suppose what I'm wondering if there is a shared vision of quality of leadership at Governance-level (or higher?)
One change in a longer perspective is the rise of the SMT. VCs inherit them and, unlike football managers, cannot bring their own. I have seen significant conflict within such teams with a protection, silo-like of 'my' domain, so collective and co-operative decision making and implementation was deficient.
@Stephanie absolutely agree re quality of leadership being contested. And yet if there’s a sense among those here that there needs to be a rethink of recruitment and transition, that must be because we implicitly feel that due to failures of the system (some) leaders are as a result not as effective as they might be…
Interested that you added the chapter about managing through a crisis. Do you think VCs have been unprepared for some of the very different forms of leadership required during the pandemic?
Followership is an emerging area in the leadership debate, is this aspect recognised in any of the transition phases and how is this mediated between the role and the person in the role.
Peter Drucker made the point that you can only evaluate impact of a leader by the quality of their successor.
@Heidi really important Q - and also to what extent Govs have access to independent data that might help them make that assessment, even if they have a detailed discussion about it.
Interested in the role of overseas (global) experience as a contribution to Leadership transitions - the individual who was exported to an overseas locations of returning back as a VC from overseas? - enhancing cultural sensitivity?
It seems to me that there's not a lot of diversity in senior leadership roles across the sector. I think that this is disappointing and does not reflect well.
agreed @Heidi; so how do we address this? What's next gen VC?
So given Robin’s comment why are there so few non academic VCs. Especially given Boards are typically non academic
Piggy-backing on @bethanoneil's question, if a new VC is arriving from a different country, with a quite different HE culture, what differences might there be in the transition support they require?
I’m currently completing a thesis in leadership transitions across HEI professional services. I’m thinking about what lessons our non-academic unit colleagues might have for VCs and their own transitions.
@Tracy. As Robin is suggesting, if we see leadership as team effort, then maybe next gen VC is the one who can meet the measures of 'quality of leadership'. Indicators (for the sector?) to be consulted on? Would this even be helpful?
HE is a bit of a 'club', I think.
Do concepts of elitism in HE impact on progression to senior roles?
Is it candidates from other sectors not putting themselves forward or is it in fact conservatism on the part of institutions to even be interested in considering such candidates?
Given the civic challenge could you ever see a VC being appointed from a local authority background,
Mike Ratcliffe NTU
Sadly George Osborne looks to be too busy to become a VC just now...
The responsibility of the VC role is so important. They are leading the next generation of thought-leadership. I think that demonstrable experience of/commitment to leading societal change would be a good 'quality of leadership' measure, for starters.
From the US:https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/07/13/how-pandemic-might-take-its-toll-search-college-presidents-opinion
Is it a job or a lifestyle choice?
Lifestyle - 24/7 and deeply connected to identity
Are up and coming professionals wanting a lifestyle or a series of experiences, is the lifestyle choice realistic going forward? IS the design of the role an antiquated concept for academic progression?
We need brave, creative and innovative leaders as Vice-Chancellors - but that has risk. Does the current environment reduce the appetite for risk and we become more staid in our appointments?
Paul Gough AUB
Thanks very much colleagues; the book is a riveting read, essential for anyone moving from one organisation to another, not just VCs, and this moving from role to role within their own HEI; Some chapters are rather ‘disconcerting’, a sort of HE-noir.
If you have strong distributed leadership, should the role of the VC in the organisation be internally focussed or externally?
Surely conservative is high risk with the current position, we need to transition out of what may have worked before into what is going to work now and in the future.
Thank you, fascinating!
Thank you, fascinating session
Very interesting, my thanks to the panel
really great to see you
Thank you so much