What traits must the leader of a college or university possess? This is the question posited in the editorial being reviewed by this paper. The author espouses the view that charismatic leaders are no longer relevant nor desirable. Rather, effective leaders must be collaborative consensus builders to perform as effective leaders in today's world.
The author of the article has identified six key traits that they deem to be essential. This writer's additional traits and counterpoints will be in italicized script.
a. Be astute enough to appoint persons better than him or herself to key positions.
b. Good presidents have egos they can check at the door.
c. Realizes that they are there to serve the institution, and all of its stakeholders, not to rule.
a. Be deeply committed to the changes they want to see made, acts as a cue to others.
b. Aim, energize, recognize, track and reward innovation.
c. As it was called in the Army, "Leadership by example". Never ask others to do what you are not willing to do.
3. Charm/Warmth. Charm, in this writer's estimation, is often viewed as superficial and possibly insincere, whereas warmth is more of a true personality trait.
a. The ability to get along with other people is essential to the institution's success.
b. Charm must be coupled with integrity to be authentic.
c. ; a leader must have tenacity.
a. A leader must hold the course for at least a decade in most cases to obtain the desired results.
a. Tenacity in the face of opposition.
b. Flexibility and adaptability when better ideas or reasonable options come forward.
c. Leadership is not a job for the faint-hearted
d. Facing ones fears and continuing despite them.
a. The emotional and, at times, spiritual dedication to the organization and its stakeholders.
b. Stay the course and inspire stakeholders to do the same.
a. Must be sensitive to others' point of view
a. Imagination combined with a sense of destiny to guide the organization toward an optimum future.
Charisma versus Consensus The author of the article also states that the old model of the charismatic leader who rules the campus with an iron fist, even if in a velvet glove, simply does not work in such an environment (today's institutions of higher education). This writer has served as a soldier, a nurse and now an educator and is familiar with both types of leaders. Charisma. The most charismatic leader with whom this writer had the privilege of serving was Richard Carmona. Dr. Carmona became the CEO at a hospital where the writer worked and transformed the facility from one hemorrhaging money to fiscal soundness. Dr. Carmona gave the impression of being a "my way or the highway" type of individual, however this writer can attest to the fact that his way was always the right way. There were undoubtedly others ways that would succeed, but being part of Dr. Carmona's team made one feel that they were part of something greater than they were. This writer would have willingly followed him into a burning building, knowing that it must be necessary. Dr. Carmona went on to become the Surgeon General of the United States. Consensus. Today's organizational leaders are accountable to both internal and external stakeholders who are typically involved, or at