What Does Leadership Look Like?

Contributed by Alisa DiSalvo, Business Program Chair, Globe University – Appleton

Business, LeadershipDoes the difference in Leadership expectations hinder the student/faculty/staff relationship?

As educators, the expertise we bring to the table should exemplify qualities to engage the student and instill knowledge about the subject matter.  However, what happens when there is a difference in the way students perceive a good leader and what they are receiving from faculty and staff?

Unlike the typical leadership blog, discussing theory and generational differences, why not look under our own roof to see if there is a difference in what qualities current students feel make a good leader verses our own faculty and staff.  The study on our campus produced 21 staff/faculty responses and 39 student responses.

The general student population trended towards feeling leadership starts at being open minded, carrying a sense of responsibility, and a passion not only on a subject level, but with life in general.  The faculty and staff general belief is leadership should possess effective communication, listening, and integrity skills as the most important qualities.  Is there really a difference in the two population sets?

As a student walking into the building, you enter with bright expectations to enhance your skills and fulfill your dreams through your educational experience. You begin your first term and realize you are now taking college level classes with great expectations.  What makes it a great experience verses counting the minutes till the end of the course? Based on leadership responses, students want to feel engaged, feel they are being heard, understand the structure, and receive solid feedback.  In all 39 responses, at no point did any student respond wanting an easy path, but expected leadership to hold up to their end of the deal and pass the passion forward.leadership, communication

All the faculty and staff responses wrapped heavily around communication, listening, and integrity skills as the main qualities a leader should possess.  Walking into the classroom or meeting with a student one on one is the time to impact a student’s world.  One false move against what a student feels is important can create a negative feeling which in some cases cannot be repaired.  As leaders, we can communicate and listen, but is that enough?  Students can feel your leadership authority is compromised if you are not open minded to ideas or not demonstrating passion.  How can faculty and staff still hold up the passion quality and translate integrity into each discussion, especially discussions the student doesn’t want to hear?

The quality needed is empathy.  Both students and faculty/staff mentioned the quality specifically, but only twice.  Empathy allows for common ground to establish all sets of the qualities listed.  The basic philosophy of communicating effectively, knowing you are being heard, remaining passionate about the topic, and holding your integrity is the underpinning of Globe’s basic philosophy of “We Care”.

Leadership qualities will continually grow and change focus based on the situation.  Like those before us, each student and educator will have their own set of leadership qualities in which they benchmark success.  The common philosophy to remember to tie everyone to the same page is We Care.  Know that we are all different and have different focuses.  However no one will ever feel negative if they know you empathize and care.