Today’s education leaders face new pressures from within their own institutions and in their respective sectors. High turnover rates, constant funding cuts, decreased enrollments, increased discounting, and increasing government regulation have necessitated immediate and sustainable change, changes that are possible only when leaders gain the support of stakeholders by embodying their organization’s values and demonstrate that their decisions are made for a greater cause and not for a personal agenda.

Transformational change is not achieved by data found on charts and graphs, but by understanding the subjectivity of human emotions. Motivation. Confidence. Passion. Respect. Empathy.

There’s a fine line between being a strong leader and pushing faculty and employees so hard that performance suffers. With so much pressure on leaders to extract the most from their teams, finding that line can be a real challenge. That’s why leaders of institutions provide both their old and young leaders with leadership development training and strategies.

Here are a few signs that you can use to determine if you are a fair but tough leader or just tough.

1. You walk into a room and everyone stops talking

Good leaders break down barriers between themselves and their employees while still keeping the workplace hierarchy intact.  If you walk into a room of chatty employees and the room suddenly falls silent, your leadership technique is likely too tough or there is something else seriously wrong.

2. Faculty and/or employees are silent when you give constructive feedback

As a leader, giving employees feedback is a must. The term “constructive criticism” has come into vogue recently. Basically it means telling your employees what to do without hurting their feelings. Constructive criticism also gives employees the opportunity to respond.

If you’re leading in a positive way, employees will ask questions and jump at the opportunity to improve. A sign that your leadership technique is too tough is when your employees say very little while you’re giving feedback or even worse, have the look of being “defeated” and feeling they cannot do anything right.

3. Who’s doing the most talking during meetings

Leadership coaches sit in on high-level institutional meetings and compare how much time top leaders spend talking and how much others contribute. They literally use stopwatches. Why, you may ask? Because if the top leaders spend more than 60% of the time talking during a meeting, it’s likely that people with quality ideas are not sharing. Assemblies are one-directional events used for sharing important announcements, but meetings should provide a fluid exchange of ideas—a give and take. If you’ve found that you’re talking the majority of the time, try being quiet for several minutes and opening the floor for someone else. When someone steps up to fill the void, applaud them for the effort and see where their ideas take you. The best meetings are often tangential.

Leadership Development

Recent studies have pointed to the transformative power of leadership, and more institutions are investing in leadership development and training for employees.  We had mentors, and we need to help those coming up behind us to become the leaders we need them to be.

Leadership development is integral to achieving sustainable change. Is your organization in need of building leadership capacity? Do your leaders create the outcomes you’re looking for?  If you would like to get a sense of where you stand as a leader, please click here to take a quick leadership survey.