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In higher-ed, there is a widely-held myth that the smartest person in the room should lead. We take for granted that someone who is smart can lead, and when we don't take steps to prepare or develop our people for leadership positions, leaders are more likely to derail.
This is a problem, because college and university leaders at all levels increasingly face complex challenges without easy solutions. They are navigating unknown territory.
When we lead in the absence of a map, often we rely too heavily on what we already know or think we know well. We fall back on tradition, losing sight of the creativity and the risks we need to take now. We rely more heavily on "smartship" than leadership. We are especially prone to this tendency in higher education because of the unique weight we assign to hierarchy and tradition.
This tendency leads to four destructive dynamics, and Pat Sanaghan's new book explores these four in depth and offers specific strategies for countering them. These four include:
Derailment of the leader - wherein leaders are often promoted on the basis of academic prowess or past achievement but lack the management training, development, and support needed to succeed.
Seduction of the leader - wherein leaders incorrectly believe they are receiving accurate intel about what is happening within their division.
Arrogance - wherein we over-emphasize and reward individual achievement rather than encourage leaders to seek broad input and approach complex issues as a team endeavor.
Micromanagement - wherein the risk averse culture of higher ed fosters leadership patterns that emphasize control and predictability rather than the risk taking, courage, and empowerment of one's people that leadership in today's higher education requires.
EARLY REVIEWS FOR THE BOOK:
"Pat Sanaghan has done an excellent job of identifying the unique characteristics of executive positions in higher education and offering a learning agenda that will assure success for university and college leaders. This book should be required reading for any president, and deserves a place on every leader's desk in higher education." - Bob Kustra, President Emeritus, Boise State University
"Noting that the academy usually fails to select and prepare leaders with the right traits and experiences, Sanaghan's book is masterful at not only helping leaders prevent derailment and failure, but also at helping new and experienced leaders succeed. This is a wonderful keep-by-your-side manual for higher-ed leaders." - Rebecca Chopp, Chancellor, University of Denver