PROMOTING LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION (Paper at the DEHEMS Conference. Vienna, September 2011) Carmen Delia Dávila Quintana (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) Jose-Gines Mora Ruiz
of 22
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
PROMOTING LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION (Paper at the DEHEMS Conference. Vienna, September 2011) Carmen Delia Dávila Quintana (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) Jose-Gines Mora Ruiz (Institute of Education, University of London) Luis E. Vila Lladosa (MC2 - University of Valencia) INTRODUCTION From a very general perspective, leadership can be defined as the process in which an individual directs, encourages and guides others to perform group tasks oriented to achieve objectives that are shared by all the members of the group (Armstrong, 1990; Cole, 1996). This type of definition highlights the fact that leadership is a functional process that can be applied to any type of human activity involving more than one person to achieve a goal. At corporate level, successful leadership would occur when the characteristics of the leader, the tasks to be performed, the objectives to be achieved and the human team fit together within the context where the organization operates (Hardy, 1985). Understanding the process of leadership requires an inquire into the complex interaction between the individual who leads the human team and the organizational, economic, and social environments where the process goes on. However, for effective leadership to occur there must be always one person, the leader, whose role is precisely to make the very process of effective leadership happen. Therefore, leadership development requires that some individuals acquire and deploy specific knowledge, abilities and attitudes that favour the process of leading other members of the team towards the corporate objectives. So far, research on leadership development has been based on two assumptions: first, that more effective leadership can be achieved through the development of individual leaders; and, second, that leadership can be brought into organizations to improve their operational effectiveness (Spendlove, 2007). A major line of research in leadership development has focused on identifying the leaders and the competencies 1 possessed by individuals that exert leadership functions in working environments. Within this line, competencies are defined as the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that favour effective leadership behavior at work. Competency models offer the means to identify the abilities, attitudes and experiences of actual leaders in their current work environments. The competencies of those who lead can be used in turn to infer what equipment of competencies is required to become an effective leader. Additionally, competency development models aim at clarifying what are the best ways to enhance the acquisition by individuals of those competencies required for effective leadership (Hollenbeck et al., 2006). Broadly speaking, education and experience are the main sources for individual competency development; however, it should be noticed that not all competencies are equally suitable to be learned at educational institutions nor equally suitable to be acquired through work experience. The analysis of competency development for leadership treats competency profiles as outcomes generated by diverse types of actions explicitly oriented to the development of leadership capacity by individuals (McDaniel, 2002; Turnbull and Edwards, 2005). The varied nature of human abilities suggest that some of competencies for leadership can be more effectively developed in an educational environment while other leadership capacities should be developed by means of learning-by-doing and on-thejob training. Research about the particular competencies related to leadership behaviour, on the one hand, and about the best ways to foster its acquisition by individuals, on the other hand, would provide valuable evidence to guide the decision making processes at individual and corporate levels towards improved individual and corporate performance. The purpose of this paper is to gain insight on the relevance of teaching and learning modes used in higher education regarding later leadership behavior of graduates at the workplace. Professional competencies related to leadership are considered here as a transmission mechanisms for higher education contribution to work performance regarding leadership development. Consequently, the profile of leadership competencies of graduates shall be evaluated twice: first, at the time of graduation from higher education institutions (retrospective evaluation); second, five years later once the graduate is working (contemporary evaluation). 2 Structural equation models (SEM) are used to estimate the effects of higher education modes and initial work experiences after graduation on the development of professional competencies related to leadership behavior at work on a sample of recent graduates from Spanish universities. The results show that individual leadership capacity depends on the development of specific professional competencies. Those competencies related to leadership are partially provided by means of higher education and developed further through later work experience. The analysis also identifies what teaching and learning modes used in higher education have stronger effects on the development of leadership competencies. The main implication is that the promotion of adequate learning environments in higher education may foster the level of graduates regarding leadership skills at the time of graduation, which in turn would improve their chances of further development of leadership competencies in earlier career stages, thus increasing the propensity of graduates to work as leaders for the organizations that employ them. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section two establishes the conceptual framework and provides the research hypotheses. Section three describes the data and the models used in the empirical analysis. Section four discusses the results including the goodness-of-fit measures corresponding to the accepted model. Finally, section five concludes. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK AND RESEARCH HYPOTHESES It is generally accepted that human competency development emerges, born talent apart, from the interaction of two main sources: formal education and life experience. Regarding professional capacities required to accomplish specific functions within an organization, as is the case of leadership, understanding the interaction between both sources of competency involves an inquire into the complex relationship between higher education and initial graduate work experience. 3 At time of graduation, the profile of competencies displayed by graduates may be considered as a multidimensional outcome of higher education production, where different types of educational resources were applied to students in order to help them to develop, among other things, their equipment of professional capacities. The competency profile held by graduates at the time of graduation is likely to influence their subsequent job-search strategies as well as the real opportunities they face in the labor markets as higher education graduates. The interaction between graduates jobsearch approach and the job-openings they face in the labor market determines graduates earlier career choices, that is, the path of initial jobs after graduation and, therefore, their later path for further competency development by means of learning by doing during the transition from education to work. Later on, once integrated in the labor market, graduates equipped with higher levels of leadership competences would tend to choose and/or to be assigned by firms and organizations to jobs and positions where the graduate must perform leadership functions as a part of the job itself. Graduates with high levels of leadership competencies are willing to be assigned to positions where they have better chances to exert effective leadership within the organizations that employs them. Organizations are willing to assign the leading position of work teams to individuals that show higher levels of leadership competencies. To lead a human team or a to lead a project are the explicit tasks and contents of certain positions; in general, graduates that act as leaders in their current work environments are those who direct, encourage and inspire the other members of the organization to achieve expected or planned objectives. Within this conceptual framework, the following five research hypotheses are jointly analysed using Structural Equation Models. H 1 : Graduates development of competencies for leadership during higher education depends other things being equal- on the combination of teaching/learning modes actually used in higher education institutions. H 2 : Graduates level of competencies for leadership some years after graduation is directly and positively related to the level developed during higher education 4 H 3 : Competencies for leadership developed during higher education are still positively related to leadership behaviour at the workplace even after some years of labor market experience H 4 : Graduates own level of competencies some years after graduation is positively related to contemporary leadership behaviour at the workplace H 5 : Teaching/learning modes for leadership influence later leadership behaviour mediated through the development of competencies for leadership. The structure of the hypotheses examined in this paper is shown in Figure 1 Figure 1: Research hypotheses structure According to the structure of relationships shown in Figure 1, we hypothesize that those graduates who have been more exposed to teaching-learning modes specifically addressed to the generation of leaders (ATL) will acquire during study higher levels of competencies for leadership (UCL). Graduates with higher levels of competencies for leadership at the time of graduation will be in a better starting position to develop those competencies further through early work experiences (OCL) which will contribute to enhance their propensity to act as leaders at the workplace (LW). It should be noted that all the elements involved (ATL, UCL, OCL and LW) are unobservable factors that would be expressed as latent constructs derived from observable indicators. 5 EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS The Data Set The data used in the empirical analysis come from REFLEX (The flexible professional in the knowledge society), a graduate survey including some 40,000 individuals of fourteen countries who graduated from higher education institutions in 1999/2000 and who answered the survey questionnaire in 2005 ( To analyze the relationship between the prevalence of diverse teaching and learning modes used in higher education and later leadership behaviour at the workplace we use the information corresponding to some 5000 individuals who graduated from Spanish universities. REFLEX sections addressed graduates higher education, transition to education to work, earlier career stages, and current professional situation, including a section focused on competencies. Defining Latent Factors and Covariance Structure The behavior of graduates as leaders at the workplace is incorporated in the structural model as an unobserved or latent factor labelled Leadership in the workplace (LW) that has to be explained by means of latent constructs and observable indicators. Churchill (1979) recommended that each latent factor should be measured by at least two observable indicators highly correlated to the latent concept. Consequently, the factor LW is measured in our model through two indicators contained in the Reflex questionnaire that explicitly consider two key aspects of the functions performed by graduates that lead at work. The first indicator considers whether the graduate has a responsibility to establish objectives in the organization (answer to the question Are you responsible for setting goals for the organization? ). The second one considers whether the graduate is responsible for deciding the ways work is organized (answer to the question Are you responsible for deciding work strategies for the organization? ). For empirical purposes we assume that those graduates whose jobs include decision about objectives and strategies are those actually leading the 6 organization. Therefore, graduates declaring that their current jobs included the responsibilities for deciding objectives and work strategies are identified as actual leaders. The following step is to analyse the competencies profile of leading graduates to identify the abilities that characterize them as leaders from the rest of graduates who have not leadership responsibilities at work. In the section on competencies, respondents to Reflex-Spain were asked three questions regarding a list of 19 human capacities. The questions were the following: A. How do you rate your own competence level? B. What is the required level of competence in your current work? C. What was the contribution of the programme completed (in higher education) to your competence development? Answers to question A may be viewed as a self-assessed measure of the human capital accumulated, in terms of competencies, by graduates at the time of the interview, that is, five years after graduation from a higher education institution. The answers to all 19 capacities generate a graduate's competency profile. Answers to question B inform us about graduates view on the human capital requirements of their current jobs in terms of competence. The answers to the 19 items generate a job profile. Answers to question C contain graduates retrospective evaluation of the value added by their higher education to their human capital equipment in terms of competencies, and can be used to represent the competency profiles of graduates at the time of graduation, that is, before they began to develop their competencies by means of learning by doing and on-the-job training. Consequently, we use the answers to question A to evaluate the competencies profile held by graduates five years after they left higher education. By looking at the profile of those leading for their organization, which have been identified in the previous step, the equipment of competencies required for leadership may be inferred. In turn, the answers to question C corresponding to the competencies for leadership, identified in 7 the previous step, are used here to evaluate the profile of leadership competencies at the time of graduation, before leading graduates developed them further through work experience. Graduates profile of competencies at time of graduation is considered as an outcome of higher education production, a process where diverse combinations of educational resources are applied within diverse study programmes to students from varied backgrounds and who behave in different ways. In the survey all questions on competencies offer a Likert-style response format with a seven-point scale from very low to very high. From the list of 19 items, we focus on those competencies more likely to be required in order to perform the activities involved in leadership at the workplace. The analysis of Reflex-Spain data suggests that the relevant competencies for leadership are following: Negotiate effectively, Alertness to new opportunities, Assert your authority, Mobilize the capacities of others, Question your own and other's ideas, Come up with new ideas and solutions, Coordinate activities, and Make your meaning clear to others. Mean values for the leadership competencies at the time of the interview as well as the time of graduation are collected in Figure 2. The average level of competencies acquired in higher education are lower than those of the corresponding levels five years later, suggesting that initial work experience after graduation is a relevant source for the development of leadership competencies once graduates have started their professional careers. The contribution of higher education to the development of the diverse competencies is not equal for all of them; however, the proportion of competency level emerging directly from higher education is substantial in all cases, confirming that higher education is the main source of the leadership competencies held by graduates five years after graduation. Make your meaning clear to others with values of 5.5 and 3.9 respectively on a scale of 1 to 7 is the competency that graduates have developed further; Negotiate effectively is the competency with lower average levels of 4.6 and 2.8 respectively. 8 Figure 2.- Mean values of own level of competencies (contemporary) and of university learned competences (retrospective) Negotiate effectively 6 Make your meaning clear to others 5 4 Alertness to new opportunities 3 2 Coordinate activities 1 Assert your authority Come up with new ideas and solutions Mobilize the capacities of others Question your own and other's ideas Own level of competency University-learned competency level For empirical purposes, the eight indicators of leadership competency are used to define a factor capturing the level of leadership competencies possessed by graduates five years after graduation (answers to question A) labelled Own Competencies for Leadership (OCL), which reflects the result of combining what was learned during university education with what was developed later during initial work experiences regarding leadership competencies. Similarly, graduates profile in terms of the contribution of higher education to the development of leadership competencies enters the model as a latent factor named University Competencies for Leadership (UCL) which is measured through the answers in question C for the corresponding indicators. Since both UCL and OCL constructs are defined over the same group of indicators, the structure of correlation among the measures of competency needs to be considered in the model. The development of a particular competency at a given time depends not only on the contemporary level of development of the other competencies but also on the past level of development of all the competencies analysed. Consequently, in the model each indicator of competency is allowed to be 9 correlated with the other indicators in the contemporary construct as well as with the corresponding indicator in the other competency construct. The inclusion of correlated error terms between the observed variables used to measure similar constructs is consistent with existing SEM literature (Byrne, 1994; Bollen, 1989). The fourth construct in the model is labelled Approaching to teaching for leadership (ATL) . It represents the most proactive creation of competence for leadership during higher education. In REFLEX respondents were asked to rate the emphasis made on eleven different modes of teaching and learning during their studies. The variables were measured in a five-point Likert scale capturing the intensity with which these methods were used for teaching and learning during the time graduates were higher education students. The three indicators selected to measure the latent construct named Approaching to teaching for leadership (ATL) factor: Group assignments, Written assignments, and Oral presentations written by students Empirical Model Building All the variables selected for the analysis and their correspondence with the four hypothesized latent factors are listed in Table 1, which also provides results of convergent validity of the research instruments. Table 1 Results of the convergent validity and correspondence between indicators and factors Factor - Cronbach Construct reliability Indicators Approaching to teaching for leadership (ATL) 0,80 0,72 A7GROASG Group assignments 10 A7WRIASG A7ORALPR University Competencies for Leadership (UCL) 0,90 0,82 H1NEGOTC H1ALERTC H1COORDC H1MOBOTC H1CMEANC H1AUTHOC H1SOLUTC H1QUESTC Own Competencies for Leadership (OCL) 0,86 0,86 H1NEGOTO H1ALERTO H1COORDO H1MOBOTO Written assignments Oral presentations by students Ability to negotiate effectively Alertness to
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks