WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
We believe that leadership is a process that is ultimately concerned with fostering change. In contrast to the notion of “management,” which suggests preservation or maintenance, “leadership” implies a process where there is movement – from wherever we are now to some future place or condition that is different. Leadership also implies intentionality, in the sense that the implied change is not random – “change for change’s sake” – but is rather directed toward some future end or condition which is desired or valued. Accordingly, leadership is a purposive process which is inherently value-based. Consistent with the notion that leadership is concerned with change, we view the “leader” basically as a change agent, i.e., “one who fosters change.” Leaders, then, are not necessarily those who merely hold formal “leadership” positions; on the contrary, all people are potential leaders. Furthermore, since the concepts of “leadership” and “leader” imply that there are other people involved, leadership is, by definition, a collective or group process. In short, our conception of leadership comprises the following basic assumptions: Leadership is concerned with fostering change. Leadership is inherently value-based. All people are potential leaders. Leadership is a group process. These assumptions, in turn, suggest a number of critical questions that must be addressed in any treatise on leadership effectiveness: What values should guide the leadership process? Toward what end(s) is the leadership effort directed? How do individuals initiate change efforts? How are leadership groups formed? How should leadership groups function? What alternatives to the traditional “leader-follower” model are most likely to be effective? What are the most effective means of preparing young people for this kind of leadership? Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin. Leadership Reconsidered: Engaging Higher Education in Social Change. Battle Creek, MI: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2000. pp. 8-16. http://www.wkkf.org/pubs/cct/ leadership/pub3368.pdf Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts http://www.pkal.org/template2.cfm?c_id=1354 © Copyright 2004 - Project Kaleidoscope Page 1
Alexander W. Astin Allan M. Cartter Professor of Higher Education & Director of the Higher Education Research Institute University of California, Los Angeles Helen S. Astin Professor of Higher Education & Associate Director of the Higher Education Research Institute University of California, Los Angeles
W H AT WO R K S - A N E S S AY
WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
Since this book is specifically about leadership development within higher education in the United States, our basic definitions and assumptions can be further refined to reflect this particular focus: The basic purposes of leadership development within the American higher education system are: (a) to enable and encourage faculty, students, administrators, and other staff to change and transform institutions so that they can more effectively enhance student learning and development, generate new knowledge, and serve the community, and (b) to empower students to become agents of positive social change in the larger society. While some members of the higher education community maintain that higher education should ideally be “value free,” we believe that any form of education, including leadership education, is inherently value-laden. Value considerations thus underlie virtually every educational decision, including criteria for admissions, course requirements, pedagogical techniques, assessment procedures, resource allocation and governance procedures, and hiring and personnel policies. The real issue is which values should govern these decisions. Even though there are many opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to serve in formal leadership positions, our conception of leadership argues that every member of the academic community is a potential leader (i.e.,...