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Leadership Development in Higher Education Contexts: Exploring the Efficacy of Widely Used Approaches

Brian Findsen (Former Professor of (Adult) Education, Universities of Glasgow and Waikato)

Developing Leaders for Real: Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact

ISBN: 978-1-80071-365-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-364-2

Publication date: 13 May 2022


This chapter, written from the perspective of an adult educator employed in universities in diverse international locations, focusses on the efficacy of developing leaders in the usually highly institutionalised context of higher education (HE) and further education (FE). The contexts of HE vary considerably at national, regional, local and individual organisational levels. This chapter traverses concepts aligned to adult learning on the assumption that the ways in which leaders develop is a function of how individuals learn in the HE context within the constraints and opportunities open to them. These principles of educational leadership emanate from more democratic ideas, derived from adult learning concepts, surrounding effective leadership.

Discussion on developing leadership in HE institutions is based primarily on practices observed in everyday academic life. Areas of functionality common to universities include teaching, research, supervision and community engagement. Each of these areas is explored as the author has juggled personal/professional development against the expectations and demands of institutional life. The author provides three examples of middle management practices which link to developing leadership in fairly heavily politicised environments. While formal structures prevail in HE contexts, the value of informal learning with colleagues is not to be under-estimated. Where leadership principles and lifelong learning ideas are aligned in actual practice – as in mentoring programmes – the scope for greater autonomy and cooperation is highlighted. Effective leadership often works best when sound pedagogical principles are to the fore.



Findsen, B. (2022), "Leadership Development in Higher Education Contexts: Exploring the Efficacy of Widely Used Approaches", Gray, H., Gimson, A. and Cunningham, I. (Ed.) Developing Leaders for Real: Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 73-83.



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