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Change Management

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Franz Schwarenthorer
25.07.2013
07:36

Change is a great challenge, especially for universities. The reasons therefore are inadequate communication, a specific leadershipstyle and a lack of recognition. It is important to set up a Basis for discussion. A university`s core services are provided in academic units with high autonomy, that are usually not connected by a “work-sharing” process. They see themselves in a competition for rare resources. Scientists usually set high standards their own work, which often cannot be met colleagues. This is reflected in pejorative discussions about others or also in a non-appreciative way of dealing with others. Creating a reasonable basis for discussion is a basic requirement to work together on change.

Find the right person for the job

Hiring for positions like rectorship or management is a crucial success factor for leadership work. Here different strategies can be observed. Either these functions are taken over by “successful” scientists (in terms of publications and external funding); the faculty members are hoping that the success in science will be reflected in the representation of the faculty and the internal coordination. Or a person with a weak personality will be chosen; then mistakes are unavoidable and changes are not possible. Sometimes the position is further weakened when the primary task is to coordinate and not to make decisions.

Find a good balance

For universities the scientific expertise is more important than leadership – trainings for leadership were rarely completed. But why is leadership is no longer supported? The answer is very often that you are dealing with an “expert organization”. Another reason is the mismatch between being a leader today and a colleague tomorrow – you don`t want to “hurt” anyone (reallocation of resources from one institute to another, abandon of a research area, enforce quality standards in teaching). An example of a dean shows how challenging these functions could be – they have three different roles: director of an institute with its own interests, head of the faculty with representation-, coordination- and enforcement-tasks, and member of the university administration with responsibility for the common good of the university. To separate these three functions leadership-qualities are required.

Recognize leadership

Leadership positions must be recruited very carefully and executives should understand leadership as the central task. They should be well prepared for this function and support each other. Furthermore, a culture of commitment and mutual respect must be created. As soon as there are (mutual) devaluations in meeting they should not be tolerated but must be addressed immediately and an appreciative handling is demanded. This would give the leadership more recognition.

Once in meetings (mutual) held devaluations, that should not be tolerated, but must immediately addressed and an appreciative handling are demanded. This would also give the leadership more recognition.

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