Don't carp at managerial martyrs 2

February 18, 2005

Does it not occur to the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation that academics may be right when they say that "in the hierarchy of things, for those who can do it the really high-quality research career is the top of the tree"?

Academic leadership - if it is to succeed - has to be collegial and not managerial. An academic leader should be primus/prima inter pares , not "the boss".

Once the Leadership Foundation has learnt to understand this, it may discover that it is indeed possible to recruit inspiring collegial leaders from among people for whom research was the top of the tree but is no longer so, because for many academics research is a young person's game.

The most satisfying role after that is to help the next generation to climb to the top of the tree. That is true academic leadership.

Lewis Elton
University College London

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