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Academic leaders need split vision

Leadership is a popular subject that is alive and flourishing in both theory and practice. Wherein lies the force of attraction?

This can be explained in many ways, which has also been done in research and popular literature. Many people are convinced that it resides in proximity to power and influence. Leadership therefore becomes important to people who have or want to have power, and for people who feel they are powerless.

Many different types of enterprises consider leadership to be the key to success and the future. In academia, how academic leadership can be structured to live up to academic independence, creativity and critical thinking, has been a hot topic for several years.

Research into academic leadership has also become a growing area, not least in relation to an ongoing discussion on the role of universities and the importance of this in a democratic society. How can independent and unrestricted research be promoted at a time when universities are being steered in the direction of exacting aims and visions of social benefits and contributions to sustainable development?

What sets academia apart from many other sector is thoughts of meritocracy and collegiality. That the quality of research and education should be safeguarded by those that are most knowledgeable and conversant with their subject areas. Collegiality must therefore be built into academic leadership that is in tune with the university’s aims.

Academic leaders need training in both monitoring scientific development in their own area and to lift their head up to see the whole picture. They must also act as leaders of people and workplaces, and contribute to the development of universities as organisations. Academic leadership is therefore a question that concerns many people and that needs to be discussed in both collegiate, management and other contexts. What/who do you think of when you hear the words academic leadership?