Administrators and managers exercise leadership roles when they go beyond the rigidity of rules, especially in gray areas of decision-making. In administration and management, there are as many problems as there are people, and discretion in human governance is often required.
Leaders are expected to lead people and organisations to higher levels of performance, potentialities and possibilities. Leaders not only address business as usual, but must also initiate new structures, programmes and projects.
Good leaders do not remain in the environment, ecology and comfort of business as usual, but will be engaged in business as unusual, beyond mere administration and management. There can be so many varied initiatives in micro as well as in macro matters (mutterers).
Unusual leaders will engage leaders from other domains to achieve the mission of the institution. Higher education institutional stakeholders, such as chancellors. pro-chancellors, vice-chancellors and their deputies, pro-vice-chancellors, senate and senate committees, have the privilege and accountability to make collective decisions for maintenance and development, while respecting minority voices and stances.
While most employees in institutions would be on the business as usual trend, there must be those who challenge the status quo or initiate new structures, and bring fresh ideas to ensure purposeful transformations.
Higher education institutions are involved in transforming the lives of students and staff, academic and non-academic; the preparation of successors; the generation of mature and relevant knowledge; the transformation of society and the lot of the people; and contributions to the cumulative intelligence and repertoire of knowledge of civilised society.
Among the conscious habits of those engaged in unusual leadership, as differentiated from leadership as usual, are that they:
ARE definers of reality;
UNDERSTAND levels and scope of strategic missions of institution, nation, region and humanity;
GENERATORS of new paradigms and knowledge in areas of expertise;
HAVE a sense of urgency;
SEIZE opportunities in moments of crises;
CELEBRATE divergence while fostering common belongingness;
INITIATE excellence and nurture the continuity of excellence;
BUILD on existing heritage and not begin everything as if from zero;
HAVE the future in mind with depth of understanding of the past and mastery of the present;
RESPECT others and their various contributions, valuable and rare competencies and talents;
COPE with rhetoric and grasp the substance and essence of the enterprise of education and its panoramic landscapes and ecology; RESIST lower culture norms as model or benchmarks; but strive for the highest culture norms of best practices;
ARE in state of readiness to meet any manner of internal and external challenges of various degrees of intensity;
RESIST being mere proxies of invisible decision makers in a centralised education system;
UNDERSTAND, master and apply theories of change in leading the institution;
ADDRESS issues of the material world but are simultaneously conscious of the reality of the invisible world;
ADDRESS unidentified and outstanding issues, and champion decision-making based on principles and philosophy of human governance;
CONTRIBUTE in focused ways to develop, not just character, but intellectual culture of students, staff and community;
MASTERS of paradoxical leadership, comfortable with uncertainties, ambiguities and contradictions; and,
NURTURE a beautiful eternal restlessness for excellence.
A society on the path to develop itself and its human resources must have the best of educational institutions at all levels. Higher educational institutions and the education system itself must ensure that future generations are prepared for the challenges of uncertain futures.
The growth and development of the unusual leader is not about what training course agencies provide for them in their career path in succession planning.
More importantly is what the unusual leaders do to develop themselves and be models of leadership par excellence in intentions, vision, conceptualisations, articulations and deeds.
Usual leadership is about more of the same rituals, routines and it is mechanistic, insisting on conformity and even boring. Unusual leadership is inspiring, exciting, refreshing, open, flexible and even unpredictable.
Unusual leadership seizes or creates opportunities in non-trodden domains. Unusual leadership is imaginative, futuristic and genuinely unconventionally strategic.
Unusual leadership celebrates divergence, pluralistic thinking, creativity, and innovation.
Unusual leadership is on the quest for complex and simple ideas to be shared and evaluated collectively, for relevance of use in the institution.
Unusual leadership is mindfully autonomous, transparent and is about connecting all the dots of existence, and making unusual connections
Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid NST Columnist 18 SEPTEMBER 2015 @ 11:33 AM