DR. JAMES C. UNDERWOOD
PRESIDENT, KASKASKIA COLLEGE
For effective educational institutional leadership, I subscribe to a collaborative style that evokes a sense of partnership, of community, and of people working together for a common cause, objective, or mission. This style can best be described as one that focuses on teamwork in an environment of participatory/consultative decision-making. As such, leaders under this model become coaches, facilitators, and participants in the process. The consultation approach I am referring to does not require the dismantling of legitimate hierarchies with the administration nor does it require adding new structures. Further, it does not require displacement of final authority; that is, administrators retain their function of approving actions for which they are responsible. This model may also be described as a “shared governance” approach to educational administration. The model is designed to apply to the institutional planning and policy formulation processes. The major administrative formulations on this model tend to be:
1. Development of Strategic Plans, Institutional Plans, Department Plans,
Technology Plans, Equipment and Furniture Plans, and Master Capital
2. Creation and preparation of Annual and Long-Term Projected Budgets.
3. Development and Review of Policies and Procedures.
4. Personnel Selection Recommendations.
5. Tenure Review and Recommendations.
6. Construction Project Design and Planning.
7. Recommendations for Curriculum Approval.
8. Educational Program Development.
9. Fund Raising Campaigns and Activities.
10. College Foundation Functions/Events/Activities.
The model requires administrators to empower others in the process of formulating planning and policy preparations. Also, it should be noted the participatory model is designed for the preparations of recommendations that are then submitted to approval authorities, i.e. Cabinet, Council, President, Board.
This style is supported by the “Consensus Model of Decision-Making”, a model that encourages the views of many from different perspectives to be heard. Through this model, I believe better decisions are made under a fully-participatory model of Consensus. As an example, people affected by a decision being made are involved in defining the problem, in weighing alternative courses of action, in determining the implications of proposed solutions, and in structuring the decision. The Consultative approach will result in wise and effective decisions, as faculty members, support staff, and the administrators are working together in serving the institution in caring and providing quality educational programs and services for its students. Leadership is required under this approach to guide the process as a proactive leader for encouraging representatives of constituencies and experts to take part in the deliberations. A leader of this process must have a high degree of energy, patience, integrity, and an ability to listen. Leaders must possess, in addition to traditional scholarly credentials, the traits, skills, and experiences required to help diverse interest groups work together successfully.
Conversely, the day to day operations of managing an educational department/institution is conducted by those individual leaders with the assigned responsibilities. Examples are: executing policies and procedures, discipline issues, budget monitoring and control to include purchasing approvals, contracting, scheduling, etc. The practice of a participatory leadership style involves sharing authority, not abdicating it.
In short, I believe an effective educational leader is one who creates an environment that motivates people and one who is a strong advocate of team-building subscribing to high standards of conduct with a foundation of Core Values. It is essential for those leading processes and those involved in the process be committed to the mission and philosophy of the College. Further, each team member must be committed to accountability, diversity, and excellence through the delivery of quality programs and services for students.
The leadership style described here promotes the development of the team approach to decision-making with a sensitivity to the needs of students, faculty, and staff. As a result, the College environment is one in the spirit of family and one in which people are respected for their contributions to the organization and have a say in the direction, development, and growth of the institution. The theme “The College is a place where Everyone is Someone” is the supreme premise to an effective educational leadership style.