• Understand that leadership is divorced from rank. Lecturer level staff and support staff can demonstrate exceptional leadership. It comes with being able to manage, but it's also personal quality, much bound up with inspiring trust, demonstrating empathy, and managing change in an emotionally intelligent fashion. Visions and missions are only tools after all; one cannot manage soldiers into battle. (Catherine Harper).
• Do university leaders need to be academics to understand their colleagues? Quite a few UK universities have got VCs who are not academics. It's the same debate as to whether hospital consultants should run hospitals. In the end surely there is no right or wrong and it depends on the ability of the person. But academics want to feel they are understood and supported and maybe that is why they sometimes want an academic lead (Katie Normington).
• Leadership roles often 'find' the individual (Jenny Mathers). But higher education needs to be more proactive about making sure those who are in leadership positions choose proactively to do that (Catherine Harper).
• How do you move up in higher education? Start by sitting in on groups outside your own academic department – it is a chance to meet a greater range of people which may be of help later (Katie Normington).
• Academic leadership can be a stigmatised career choice. A twist of "those who can't do, teach" – for academics it is "those who can't teach (or do research), lead". Finding good examples where leaders successfully make more room for academics to do their work, could help contribute towards cultural changes in universities. (Curt Rice).
• Delegating problems upwards is endemic and leaders fall for it every time. They want to be the hero who fights every fire, but it takes time and patience to help people fight their own fires. Coaching your team to success is less heroic but often more effective (Jo Owen).
• Good leaders have the humility to learn. Leaders often see it as a sign of weakness to admit that they need training in dealing with people (Jo Owen).
• Gender imbalance in leadership is a huge issue. At Future Leaders most participants are female, but most of the people who get to leadership positions are male. There is a clear bias among governing bodies whose role it is to appoint. Also, men tend to pitch for promotion when they are halfway ready, whether female participants want to be sure that they are really ready to step up. But no-one is ever ready to take the top spot for the first time (Jo Owen).
• A well-chosen mentor pays dividends. It doesn't have to be a long mentoring relationship, sometimes one of two honest chats can make a difference or help make a decision. But make sure you pay it back when you are asked to help someone else (Catherine Harper).
• Learning from predecessors is important. But sometimes you have to 'unlearn' too (Katie Normington). To succeed, it's important to find your own style – hard when there aren't many role models around – and then believe in your work and your self (Katie Normington).
• Great leaders are humble and innovative. They look out for good ideas and innovation but are also willing to subject their own pet projects to scrutiny and amend (or scrap) them if they don't gain any support (Jenny Mathers). They are also humble enough to say "sorry, I got that wrong, and "thanks for pointing that out" without feeling loss of face (Catherine Harper).
• Harnessing innovation throughout the institution is a challenge (Paul Gentle). If innovation is just seen as coming from the top (by the leader), others can be resistant. Good leaders listen too and take innovation from wherever they find it in the organisation (Katie Normington).
• Leadership qualities are: Humility, competence, ability to simultaneously 'own' issues/stories and still give credit to those who did the hard work. Political skill, both internally and externally, is good (Curt Rice). Never losing sight of the bigger picture, the ability to think and act strategically, compassion and a sense of humour (Jenny Mathers).
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