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  • Writer's pictureDr. Val Margarit ❤️

Leadership in Education: Understanding the Most Effective Approaches



Leadership plays a crucial role in the success of higher education institutions. The higher education environment is unique and requires leaders who can adapt to the specific needs and challenges of the organization. In this article, I highlight several leadership types that are commonly applied in higher education and examine which type of leadership may be most effective.


Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton

First, here's a question:


Are leaders born or made?


Good news- everyone has the potential to become a leader. However, an excellent leader is a lifelong learner, empowers others, is authentic, has an inspiring vision of the future, is motivating people to believe in and engage with the vision and is a role model. An excellent leader walks the talk and believes in people's capability to become their best version of themselves.


Now, let's have a look at different leadership approaches and see which one resonates the most with your leadership philosophy, values, and goals you'd like to achieve for yourself, your team and organization. By the way, you'll find these leadership styles in every organization not just education.


Transformational Leadership is considered one of the most effective leadership approaches in higher education and is also my favorite. Transformational leaders prioritize building strong relationships with their team, creating a positive culture and inspiring and motivating their teams to not only achieve their goals, but also strive for personal growth and development. These leaders are energetic, passionate and driven by a strong sense of purpose. They are able to create a sense of community and collaboration among the team, which is particularly important in a higher education setting where students, faculty and staff come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse, values, and goals. As a Transformational leader you'll always be motivated by your mission and values, which will push you to keep going when times are challenging as they will.


Authentic Leadership is also seen as a positive approach in higher education. Authentic leaders lead with integrity and are able to build trust with their team. This approach is especially important in a higher education setting where transparency and honest communication are key to ensuring the success of students, staff and the institution. An authentic leader can create an environment of trust and open communication, which is essential for the development of good educators, and for student's learning environment.This means that leaders must take an interest in learning about the people and aligning roles with their goals while providing lifelong learning opportunities for growth and development. You have heard that "people leave bosses not jobs", which is the case for many people. Authentic leaders are intentional about how they achieve their organizational goals while making sure everyone on the team is also advancing their own professional and personal goals. When people enjoy what they do, are respected and included in the conversation everyone wins.


Situational Leadership is considered as an effective approach, when done correctly, in higher education. Higher education institutions are complex organizations that are faced with a wide range of challenges, and leaders who can adapt to the needs of each situation will be more effective. This approach allows leaders to be flexible and responsive to the diverse needs of students, faculty and staff, and to adapt their leadership style accordingly.


Democratic Leadership is another effective approach in higher education. Democratic leaders facilitate decision-making and problem-solving among the team through open communication and collaboration. This approach is particularly important in higher education where a wide range of stakeholders are involved, including students, faculty and staff. Democratic leaders encourage participation and collaboration among the team, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving as well as commitment to the mission and purpose of the organization.


In conclusion, effective leadership is crucial in every organization not just in higher education. Understanding the different leadership types and their specific advantages can help higher education leaders to develop their own leadership style and lead their institution and team towards success. The most effective leaders are lifelong learners, are able to adapt to the unique needs of their organization and create a positive and productive learning environment for students, teachers, and staff. They are inspiring, motivating, energetic, and passionate about making a difference. Excellent leaders walk the talk and are role models for others.


CTA: Which leadership approach resonates with you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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