Presidents - Leadership styles, group dynamics
I always believe in a leadership team, as opposed to a single leader who is dominant and maybe charismatic, but overly dominant. I do think there are times when you need that—if you are in battle in a war, you might need that command and control person, but in educational institutions, for the most part, I think you need a leadership team. And there is a good Chinese saying for it, “Qu Chang Bu Duan” (取长补短) which is, basically the different strengths of individuals that you would bring together to make up for the weaknesses of other members in the team. And in an educational institution, that I think is very important. I think that in an educational institution, if you had an individual who was overly concerned about credit and glory to himself or herself all the time, you would lose the team.
What I do see as part of the team would be the following: I have articulated, after consultation with stakeholder groups, the key directions, and those key directions require different skill sets. If we are looking for someone to help develop the industry piece, having someone with that industry background would be really sensible, but who also understands the educational institution. That mix of it doesn’t reside in everybody, because many of us came through from an undergraduate to a PhD, to an academic career and have never spent one day in in industry. Others have. Maybe we should draw those strengths into the team. If we are interested in a university that is developing, cultivating innovation and entrepreneurship talent, you need someone who knows that space, ideally through having been in that space himself or herself, or if not at least having done research in that space and understands what innovation and entrepreneurship means.
If we are looking for someone for the integration piece, then surely you need a particular kind of personality and leadership style, that the person is able to forge consensus, bring people together, have the patience to sit down and listen to different points of view. And if you’re thinking of an internationalization piece, then you need someone with the international experience and background, you need someone who has that kind of presence when you are meeting with other counterparts and so forth. So, there will be different strengths that are needed depending on what you want to do. I have articulated what we want to try and achieve, and I am looking for individuals whose backgrounds, personalities and temperament would help make this up.
But more important than anything else, this group needs to be able to work together. This group needs to be able to recognize that this is where I have strengths and that is where I’m going to be really rowing hard and let me leave that to my partner, my colleague in the team and not try and do that as well. And I think we need for a team that supports one another, that’s willing to say, let me chime in when you are having a difficult moment, let me not try and be the one who is dominant, has a voice in everything and so forth. We have got to know when to lead and went to take a step back. Ideally we will be able to find individuals of that ilk who will be able to work well together. That for me is my responsibility, to compose the team and to build the group dynamic.