Effective leadership in higher education: a circle of influence
Research findings suggest that leaders and leadership play a critical role in a university's success (Bryman, 2009; Scott, Coates & Anderson, 2008). Despite this assertion there is little empirical evidence to suggest what effective leadership in a higher education context entails. This study is an attempt to address this gap by examining leadership from a perspective of the interrelationships and influences that impact on effective leadership in higher education. The key factors that were explored include emotional intelligence, job satisfaction and leadership practice. These key factors and the relationship between them were examined in eleven case studies, which despite being a convenience sample, were perceived to be representative of academic leaders across the higher education sector. A mixed-mode case study research design was used with job satisfaction, emotional intelligence and individual interview data being collected from each of the eleven case study participants pre and post engagement in a leadership capacity development initiative. Findings show that there is a 'circle of influence' that impacts on effective leadership in higher education and a reciprocity between this 'circle of influence' and effective leadership that has the potential to transform the current focus of leadership capacity development initiatives in higher education. Four propositions are presented as a succinct articulation of the interrelationships and influences of the 'circle of influence' and the bearing this 'circle of influence' has on effective leadership in higher education. A synthesized suite of examples of emotionally intelligent practices for effective leadership in higher education have been provided. Finally five recommendations for the conceptualisation and development of leadership capacity in a higher education context are proposed .