College is time for studies, time for parties, and time for growing up as a personality. If you help your group mates when they ask you «Please, write my homework for me!» and you can handle the majority of your college tasks efficiently (either yourself or using one of the popular online tools such as Statistics homework helper) you can consider building an academic career and become a scholar. Why not? Being a lecturer is not the only opportunity on the way to the bright academic future.
For example, if you take more charges, you can also become an academic leader. Compared to business and political surroundings where influential leaders make unpopular but required decisions and thus earn people`s trust and respect, academic leadership is collegial and more limited in time. It means a lot of administrative tasks and responsibilities handled by one member of the faculty.
What makes an excellent academic leader?
To get this job, people should meet definite criteria such as having management skills and published research works, and the main problem is that the balance of these qualities is a rare case. A good researcher will not necessarily be a good leader, but this skill should be present. As this position is not permanent, and after two mandates, you usually get back to your previous activities, the main challenge is to reach long-term goals within these limited timeframes. That is why no one will be making unpopular decisions not to depend on their colleagues in the future.
If you still want to apply for this title, make sure you understand and agree with the following statements:
- You understand the difference between proper management and effective leadership. Although leaders should be managers to be more effective in work, management is more about working within limits while leadership lies in discovering more extensive opportunities and making them happen;
- Leadership is a personal quality. Although you can learn how to manage people and tasks, leadership is a quality built on inspiring trust and empathy. Your vision and primary goals are only tools after all;
- You need to be an academic. Just a few universities now have educational leaders who are not scholars. What if the question was, «Do people need to be doctors to take care of patients?», this is the same thing. Of course, there are exceptions, but usually, academics want to feel support and understanding of other scholars and also be led by them;
- Academic leaders are following the path. Many of them have already been taken the positions of heads, managers or supervisors, so they choose it proactively;
- You move up the career ladder. Contacting people outside your department will help meet those who can support you in your goal;
- You should delegate some tasks. Everyone wants to be a hero that fights every fire and can handle every problem but training your team to be able to delegate some tasks is more effective;
- Good leaders always learn. Don`t be afraid to admit that you don`t know something; this is not a sign of weakness but additional training in dealing with people;
- Women can also be leaders. Now many leadership positions are taken by men, and it means a gender imbalance in higher education and other fields. An interesting fact is that men look for promotion when they are halfway ready while women hesitate to step up even if they can do the job correctly;
- Mentorship will pay off. Even being a leader, asking for advice and honest opinion is healthy. Just make sure you can also help these people when needed;
- You should learn from your forerunners. It`s essential to avoid the mistakes that have already been done, kind of unlearn this experience to success. Find your style and believe in it;
- Great leaders should be innovative. You need to look for new concepts and ideas, create your projects, and be humble enough to admit your mistakes without feeling the loss of face. Innovations should not be coming from the leader only; a good leader listens to people around and takes their opinion into account.
Often people assume that academic leaders are those who can`t teach but can only manage. This is not true. An educational leader should combine both qualities, thus becoming a good one to follow. Besides, they also possess a sense of humor, compassion, humility, political skills, competence, and ability to think and act strategically and never lose sight of the more comprehensive picture.
How to become an excellent academic leader
If you feel like a natural-born leader, have educational and interpersonal skills, and others often ask you for help, you can grow your leadership abilities in the academic field. It will help you launch your career successfully and bring many other benefits. So, to become an academic leader, you need these five core values:
- Great communication skills. Communication is a fundamental skill for all leaders: academic, business, and political. A good leader should express their ideas adequately and listen to others at the same time. Start by understanding the people you are working with, get their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and you will be able to delegate the tasks the right way. Be open to feedback and criticism and let people know they are heard;
- Being proactive. The majority of people do nothing and wait for the magic to happen. Relying on destiny, luck, or coincidence is the wrong way. Leaders plan ahead, indicate problems, always have a plan B, and are prepared for the worst, still being positive. Being proactive means the ability to identify which tasks are more critical and form priorities;
- Taking risks. Strong academic leadership lies in knowing when to take risks and whether they are worth taking and act not in a rush. It means the ability to estimate the potential gains and losses and understand the worst scenarios and best outcomes. Leadership is about pushing you out of your comfort zone;
- Resilience. If you failed in something, you need the courage to keep going and try again. Not all people will like your ideas, and many of them can be rejected. Every failure should be learned from and become an opportunity to grow and another step to success;
- Passion. You need to love what you are doing. Otherwise, it doesn`t make sense. Being passionate about your job means being motivated to achieve results and make other people around you also motivated. This is what makes an excellent academic leader.