Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice


Successful and effective Department Chairs can positively impact faculty, staff, and students through enacting specific and practical strategies in the essential areas of personnel, communication, budget, instruction, culture, and change and to help them further develop their leadership abilities. This work is based on a review of the literature and conversations among mentors and mentees participating in one institution’s group mentoring program. This review and qualitative process reaffirms that most Chairs are inexperienced and ill-prepared for the myriad roles and responsibilities Chairs are expected to fulfill and need professional mentoring and guidance in enhancing their leadership skills. Chairs need to understand

the essential character traits they must demonstrate and the actions they should take to be effective and successful. These include modeling integrity, building trust, ensuring transparency, listening to understand, delegating tasks, emphasizing student learning, being an advocate, pursuing personal learning opportunities, being fair and equitable, exhibiting courage, facilitating change, and ensuring everyone feels they belong. In addition to managing financial, space, and human resources, Chairs need to realize the pivotal importance of consistently strengthening relationships. Chairs should emphasize nurturing a positive departmental culture to increase job satisfaction for faculty and staff. Chairs need to maintain personal teaching, research, and service contributions while never losing focus on their primary role of serving others.