Leadership theories--managing practices, challenges, suggestions

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Author: Cheryl Hawkins
Date: Fall 2009
From: Community College Enterprise(Vol. 15, Issue 2)
Publisher: Schoolcraft College
Document Type: Report
Length: 8,298 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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A shortage of community college executives due to the number of retirements occurring among current leaders is predicted. An examination of three leadership theories--servant-leadership, business leadership and transformational leadership--suggests techniques for potential community college leaders. Servant-leaders focus on the needs of their employees, and business leaders focus on outcomes and quality methodologies. Finally, transformational leaders structure all employees' work towards the mission, establish open communication systems within the institution, and then focus their work on strengthening and sustaining their institutions for the future. A comparison and contrast of the three leadership theories, the challenges that may arise, and the theorists' suggestions to address the identified challenges is provided.


A demand for community college leaders has increased due to the current age of many of the leaders (American Association of Community Colleges, 2005, [paragraph] 2; AACC, 2006, p. 7: Boggs, 2003, p. 15; & Weisman & Vaughan, 2007, p. 6). These leaders have the responsibility of establishing the framework from which all work of an institution occurs. AACC (2005) concurs, states "the development and availability of well-prepared leaders is vital to the continued success of community colleges and their students" ([paragraph] 1). Roueche, Baker III, and Rose (1989) add, "it will be the community colleges that will keep America working" (p. 5). Future community college leaders will require the skills to address the forces affecting their institutions--economical, legislative, and consumer. The leadership models that new leaders follow will play a critical role in the success of their institutions.

An examination of three different leadership theories--a business model, servant-leadership, and transformational leadership--suggests approaches for future community college leaders to consider. An analysis and synthesis of the managing practices, the challenges that may arise, and solutions the theorists offer complete a picture of leadership styles.

Three theories

Peter Drucker believes a business leadership model guides an institution to success when employees and leaders focus their work on outcomes which lead to the mission of the institution. Additionally, "Dr. Drucker cared not just about how business manages its resources, but also how public and private organizations operate morally and ethically within society. He respected the values of education, personal responsibility and businesses' accountability to society" (About Peter Drucker, 2009, [paragraph]2). Leaders following a business leadership model should consider building quality initiatives, efficiencies, and maximum use of employee strengths into day-to-day operations. Additionally, leaders should develop a regimen of personal work habits: for example, time utilization, communication practices, and work delegation. Drucker feels these habits will positively influence the leaders' effectiveness.

Servant-leadership developed by Robert Greenleaf emphasizes the belief that before one can be an effective leader, he or she must be willing to serve others (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13). Servant-leaders focus on team work and inspiring those around them. They first and foremost care about the needs of their employees or followers because if everyone is flourishing, so will the institution in which they work (What is servant leadership, 2008, [paragraph] 5).

Transformational leadership was introduced by Burns in 1978 and then refined by Roueche et al. in 1989. One of the foundational principles of transformational leaders is that they are change-agents (Roueche, Baker III, & Rose, 1989, p. 202). Transformational leaders are visionaries, role-models, and facilitators who prepare their employees to work in a dynamic environment. They have "... unswerving commitment as much as anything else that keeps people going, particularly through the darker times when some may question whether the vision can ever be achieved" (Transformational Leadership, 2002-2009, [paragraph] 7). Therefore, transformational leaders are at the forefront, guiding employees to work towards the mission and the sustainability of the institution.

Managing practices

In the managing practices for business, servant-leadership, and transformation leadership, three themes become evident: individual work practices, managing employees, and systems thinking. Individual work practices encompass those skills, attributes, and roles that make up the fabric of who the leader is. The work that occurs with and for the employees of the institution falls under the managing employees' area. Systems thinking relates to the overarching framework that is developed for the work of the institution.

Individual leader skills

As a leader of an institution, whether one chooses to follow a business, servant-leadership, or transformation leadership model, an individual will require a personal toolbox of skills to guide an institution forward. As a benchmark for the leadership skills identified in the business, servant-leadership and transformational leadership theories, "Competencies for Community College Leaders," presented by the American Association of Colleges (2005), are shown in Table 1. The AACC (2005) presents competencies in five categories: Organizational Strategy, Resource Management, Communication, Collaboration, Community College Advocacy, and Professionalism" (p. 3).

As the leadership skills for the respective theories are examined, one discovers that transformational and servant-leaders are visionary and goal directed. More specifically, they strive to sustain change which may permeate beyond their institutions. Burns (1978) noted, "... leaders dedicate themselves to explicit goals that require substantial social change ..." (p. 248). However, according to Spears, servant-leaders are dreamers. He believes servant-leaders should address problems that arise from a more global perspective rather than just from within their work environment. Spears (1995) stated, "... servant-leaders seek to nurture their abilities to 'dream great dreams'. The ability to look at a problem from a conceptualizing perspective ..." (p. 6). Therefore, servant-leaders are not just focused on the bottom line of their institutions. They concentrate on understanding what their employees and community stakeholders' needs are, and then work to improve the well-being of both groups.

Regarding global awareness, Drucker agrees with the other theorists and feels without a global perspective the focus of work within institutions will remain only on what is occurring within them. In support of Drucker's point, trans formational leaders are also visionary. They look beyond their institutions, which assists them when managing in times of turbulence and uncertainty,. Roueche et al. (1989) felt that one could label this ability as risk-taking. They noted, "they live in a world of shifting sands and take risks by stepping into the unknown" (p. 202).

In contrast to the macro-level skills, Drucker stressed the micro-skill of time management in his business model. Drucker believes a leader's time is a valuable commodity in the world of work. A leader who effectively manages his or her time can accomplish more within the work day, which is not an easy task. Leaders should study how their time is used and then develop strategies to improve time use (Drucker, 1967, p. 25 & 102).

In contrast to Drucker's emphasis on time management, a servant-leader requires effective listening, comprehension, verbal, and non-verbal skills (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 16, 17, & 23). Even though transformational and servant-leaders feel the ability to manage time is important, they place greater emphasis on building a sense of trust with those who follow them. Transformational leaders who practice "consistency and constancy" will be more likely to establish trust among the employees working for them (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 27). Greenleaf supports the point and feels that without the trust of employees, a leader's ability to problem-solve and implement actions within the institution will be compromised.

Additional skills noted for servant-leaders are empathy and a sense of awareness for what is occurring around them. In contrast, transformational leaders manage with morals, tenacity, selflessness, and, according to Burns (1978), good political skills (p. 169). Moreover, transformational leaders have the ability to influence others, are motivational, and are committed to their vision (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 12). The working relationship established between transformational leaders and their employees is considered one of the most important skills. The strength of the working relationship is a good predictor of how well leaders are actually able to transform or work with changes within their institutions. Leaders may possess maw skills, but unless they are put into action through the decisions they make, the end results may not be what was desired.

All theorists agree, whether someone follows a business leadership, servant-leadership, or transformational leadership model, effective decision making is a requirement. Drucker goes into greater detail on leaders' decision making actions. He believes employees expect their leaders to know what has to be done to sustain their institutions. Conversely, business leaders welcome disagreement and suggestions for alternative solutions from their employees to proposed decisions, which then apprises the leader of other potential solutions for the problems at hand. Additionally, Drucker suggests, business leaders contemplate whether action or inaction is the best approach when addressing a presented issue. As decisions are being developed, leaders need also consider whether certain organizational activities are still viable and worth continuing (Drucker, 1967, p. 102 & 106). Finally, the business leadership model is the only one that stresses that the leaders of the institution are the only ones who should make any major decision that affects the entire organization. Drucker (1967) goes on to explain, "Only executives make decisions ... by virtue of position or knowledge ... that have significant impact on the entire organization, its performance, and results define the executive" (p. 113).

Transformational leaders, when they present their decisions or position on the issue being addressed, do so in such a manner that their employees understand, and agree to follow the leaders' directives, ideas, or vision (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 27). That confirms the importance of trust which transformational leaders must earn from their employees. Employees should feel confident in their leadership and the decisions that are made through understanding of their leader's intentions, employees will know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and the future implications of their work. Additionally, transformational leaders are aware of what their employees require so that employees put their full effort into the work of the restitution. In other words, transformational leaders know how to move employees from individual or silo-based work, to cooperative work thus moving the work of the institution to a systems level (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 26).

In contrast, servant-leaders believe that each employee examines a leader's decision through his or her own individual experiences and memories. Then, he or she interprets the decision accordingly (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 18). Consequently, servant-leaders need to be clear on conveying the intent of his or her decision in order to assure it means the same for each person hearing it. Drucker (1967) reminds leaders that "today is always the result of actions and decisions taken yesterday" (p. 104). To address the point, servant-leaders attempt to divide their time between what is occurring right now and planning for the future (Spears, 1995, p. 6). In contrast, Burns (1978) recommends that transformational leaders should not involve themselves in the day-today activities of the organization, but use their time to plan and work on the future of the organization (p. 404).

The business leadership model also stresses the importance of examining how effective decisions are by building quality measures and controls into the processes that are developed. Drucker suggests that quality measures and controls should be dynamic in nature and carried out by employees understanding the importance of the tasks (Drucker, 1967, p. 138). The business leadership model stresses that leaders cannot always continue to do what has been rewarding and successful for them in the past. Decisions are dynamic in nature with the focus on looking forward (Drucker, 1967, p. 12 & 58). Drucker, however, is the only theorist who mentions that the ability to be an effective decision maker is something that leaders can learn. He (1967) explains, "... effectiveness, in other words is a habit that is a complex of practices. And practices can always be learned." Leaders should consider themselves life-long learners.

Individual leader attributes

Attributes within the transformational, business, and servant leadership models reveal few commonalities across the three models. Servant-leaders must have a "sense for the unknowable to be able to foresee the unforeseeable" (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 21). Foresight allows a servant-leader to address and alleviate followers' fears, so that the work of the institution continues. Servant-leaders have a power for healing that strengthens the bond between leaders and employees, allowing for difficult issues to be addressed (Spears, 1995, p. 5). In contrast, the business leadership model advocates that senior leaders remain aloof from their managers so as not to distract themselves from the work that has to be done. Drucker (1995) comments, "A president has no friends in the administration" (p. 63). However, Drucker recommends that senior leaders need to entrust to their managers the day-today operations of the institution, without interfering with the decisions and actions made by their managers (Drucker, 1995, p. 62). In contrast, servant-leaders are more responsive to what they believe are the needs of their employees and the institution. Greenleaf (1977) went so far as to state, "servant-leaders are functionally superior because they are closer to the ground--they hear things, see things, know things, and their intuitive insight is exceptional" (p. 42). Servant-leaders are indirectly assuming much of the risk that occurs within the institution, protecting their employees as much as possible when decisions are made and implemented.

On the other hand, transformation leaders require an enhanced awareness to envision their institutions' future and how they can guide their employees into that future. Roueche et al. (1989) claim that, because of their awareness, transformational leaders convey clear messages to their employees. Employees then can begin to understand the rationale for decisions and that the goal is for everyone to work together to advance the institution (p. 27). For a transformation leader to be effective in providing such understanding, Roueche et al. (1989) believe "they have ... an unusual degree of self confidence" (p. 27). In contrast, business leaders require a sense of inquiry, which drives them to seek knowledge. However, Drucker believes that even though a leader may be aware of the requisite attributes, it is only after a leader has put the attributes into action and achieved positive results that they can say they follow the business leadership model.

Leadership roles

Only the transformational leadership model proclaims that one of the primary roles of a leader is to be a "change agent" (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 202). A transformational leader looks to the future and then strategizes how to move the institution in that direction. Sometimes when looking forward, though, the future is not clear; but with the trust of employees, a transformational leader guides the institution into the uncertain future. In contrast, the business leadership model stresses that leaders are willing to let go of practices that are not working, product lines that are not successful, and capitalize on strengths (Drucker, 1967, p. 11; Drucker, 1995, p. 34). Business-style leaders assume a monitoring role, in which where early warning signs of potential liabilities or issues are identified and acted upon before they can negatively affect the sustainability of the institution. Drucker (1967) stresses, within the organization a leader should "... concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results" (p. 24).

In contrast to transformational or business leaders, servant-leaders assume the role of peace-maker. They examine what has occurred in the past and what is occurring today within the institution. Next, servant-leaders with their employees envision what the institution should strive for; then, the leaders assist employees in getting there. As Spears (1995) acknowledged, the institutional focus should not be on just how profitable the institution is, but on how well employees and the servant-leader are working together (p. 8). As mentioned earlier, the servant-leader's primary role is to address the needs of those he or she works with (Spears, 1995, p. 7).

Business and transformational leaders do take on the role of one who empowers. Empowering employees with the responsibility to complete the day-to-day work within an institution is the key element that allows transformational and business leaders to focus on global issues and opportunities for their institution. Additionally, Roueche et al. believe that by empowering employees, the institution will be able to adapt quicker as external forces evolve and challenge the institution's sustainability. Drucker, on the other hand, believes that empowerment increases employees' commitment to the vision, thus increasing their productivity. Finally, Burns (1978) suggests that by empowering employees, transformational leaders are minimizing the hierarchal structure of the organization, whereby each employee feels he has a critical role in the success of the institution (p. 2). For empowerment to occur though, the supervision system established needs to support it.

Being a supervisor entails a combination of activities that go beyond the process of telling employees what their job is, and then letting them know how well they have accomplished that job. Supervision is a process of getting to know one's employees, creating an environment where open communication occurs between leaders and employees, and ensuring that employees are aware of what their work expectations are.

One of the first steps of the supervision process is for leaders to know who their employees are. They must learn what strengths employees bring to the institution and understand what the employees' work needs are. From the servant-leadership perspective, employees' needs should be the most important concern of the leader. Greenleaf suggests "servant-leaders are deeply committed to the personal, professional, and spiritual growth of each and every individual within the institution" (Spears, 1995, p. 7). Thus, by leaders focusing on employees, Greenleaf (1977) suggests that the employees are more committed to their leader. As a consequence, their productivity within the workplace increases (p. 10). In contrast, the business leadership model focuses on understanding employees' strengths and then capitalizing on the strengths to do the work of the institution. Drucker cautions leaders not to focus on weaknesses because that may only result in a decrease in productively. Through focus on employee strengths, leaders will see positive outcomes (Drucker, 1967, p. 71). However, when weaknesses are identified, leaders learn where additional training can be provided or an employee can be moved to a work area that compliments his or her strengths.

Transformational leaders, on the other hand, converse with employees to discover how best they can assist the institution. Such a collaborative process may result in employees making changes in how they work to align with what needs to occur as the institution works towards its vision. Burns (1978) explains "the transforming leader recognizes and explains an existing need or demand of a potential follower.... The transforming leader looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower" (p. 4). Roueche et al. (1989) agree with Burns and feel that through open dialogue between leaders and employees, employees feel they have a stake in the success of the institution and are thus more committed to the work that needs to occur (p. 170).

Drucker is the only theorist who discusses the removal of an employee if the employee is performing poorly and negatively affecting the work environment. He believes if a difficult employee's work and behaviors are not addressed, they could disrupt other employees' work, potentially undoing what has already been accomplished (Drucker, 1967, p. 89). In contrast, Greenleaf suggests that servant-leaders should put their employees' needs first and make every attempt to address those needs. Servant-leaders believe that employees are individuals first and have more to offer an institution than just the work they are assigned to do (Spears, 1995, p. 7). It does not mean that a servant-leader will accept poor performance, but by focusing on the whole person, a stronger community of employees occurs with individual employees potentially striving to perform better for the community in which they work (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 18, 21, & 41). The transformational leadership theorists agree. Through a collaborative, supervisory process, a transformational leader engages employees to join in pursuing the vision of the institution. Leaders need to instill in employees the desire to learn, grow, and change as the institution evolves (Burns, 1978, p. 455). Through a collaborative supervisory process, teamwork emerges.

The use of teams within an organization is a common role for leaders across the three leadership models: transformational, business and servant-leadership. It is through teamwork that leaders and employees work cooperatively towards achieving the vision of the institution. However, it is the responsibility of the leaders to establish a work environment, where teams can develop.

Following the transformational leadership role model, the senior leader creates a leadership team responsible for guiding the institution forward toward a common purpose (Roueche et al. 1989, p. 11). It is only then that employee and leader work teams should be created to guide the institution forward, knowing they have freedom to make the necessary decisions to carry out their work. Expanding on the point, business leaders believe leaders and employees should be working together collectively; however, teams should be developed around the strengths of each individual member.

Servant-leaders create teams from a different perspective. First the servant-leader will listen to his or her employees. Next, they create teams and solidify the work of the teams through a process of negotiating what is best for team members and the institution (Spears, 1995, p. 7). As noted earlier, servant-leaders' first priority is to serve others. Following that premise, they may ask employees what leadership can do to help employees become effective team members (Spears, 1995, p. 3). Burns (1978) summed up the importance of teamwork as "leaders and followers are engaged in a common enterprise; they are dependent on each other, their fortunes rise and fall together, they share the results of planned changed together" (p. 428).

A final role of the transformational leader is to be a role-model for others who aspire to be transformational leaders. Roueche et al. (1989) believe that role-modeling occurs through a mentoring process that "converts followers into leaders" (p. 9). In contrast, Drucker feels that too much of a leader's time is taken up by others, which impedes his or her ability to do the job that is required of a leader. Table 2 summarizes leadership roles according to each of the three models.

Systems thinking

In the business, servant-leadership, and transformational leadership models, managing practices that fall under systems thinking are vision, change, analysis, and communication. Vision is what leaders aspire to for the institution; change is what maintains the institution's viability; analysis is the introspective review of what occurs within the institution; and communication delineates how messages are conveyed.


The transformational and business leadership models both discuss the importance of vision. For institutions to survive in changing times, leaders need to instill in their employees the importance of continually revisiting the mission and revising it as necessary. Drucker (1995) suggests that leaders and employees need to step back and review the realities of both their external and internal worlds collectively. Then, in an organized manner they begin to strategize what needs to be changed so that sustainability is maintained (p. 80). Drucker (1995) went so far as to suggest that an organization that wishes to remain viable may have to stop what it is doing and start over in a new direction (p. 79). Clearly, "the transformational leader of today must possess the synergy to create something new out of something old; out of an old vision, these leaders must develop and communicate a new vision and get others not only to see the vision, but also to commit to it themselves" (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 32). In contrast, the servant-leadership model does not speak about vision, which could be a result of serving followers first rather than the needs of the institution.


The transformational leadership model emphasizes that leaders are change agents; and of the three leadership models, change is only discussed in this one. The impetus for change is the futuristic thinking of the transformational leader. The transformational leader's time is not focused on day-today operational activities, but rather on continuing to explore new markets in order to sustain the institution.

Burns and Roueche et al. agree that the transformation leader has the obligation not only to create change caused by external pressures, but to make internal institutional changes. As transformational leaders revise the mission and vision of the institution, it is their responsibility to change their employees' "values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors" (Burns, 1978, p. 202; Roueche et al., 1989, p. 11). Since change is never easy, once a change is implemented, transformational leaders may find that they will need to draw upon not only their physical energy to make the endeavor work, but also their emotional and cognitive energy (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 11). One of the steps leading to change is the examination of how internal and external global forces affect an organization.


Regardless if one chooses to follow a transformational, servant-leadership, or business leadership model, a process of reviewing, revising, eliminating, or creating should be part of what employees and leaders of the institution continually do. Such continuous review provides necessary information so that leaders and employees are able to improve day-to-day operations, maintain the institution's viability, and improve the well-being of those working within the institution.

Transformational leaders are attentive to events such as community or global crises occurring within and outside their institutions that could influence their operations. Roueche et al. (1989) believe that once a review is completed and findings understood, leaders may then have to make changes internally for sustainability (p. 9). However, since transformational leaders delegate most of the day-to-day operations to their employees, it is important for them to convey the rationale for change and then allow created work teams to plan, strategize, and implement the necessary changes. Such a process increases employees' "ownership in the shared vision of the future" (Roueche et al., p. 124).

In contrast, those who follow a business leadership model use a review process to analyze what is and is not working. Then, they begin to strategically plan out what should occur next within the organization. As part of the review, business leaders analyze how the institutions' funds should be allocated, thus protecting the institutions' resources. Drucker (1967) went so far as to state, "systematic sloughing off of the old is the one only way to face the new" (p. 108). Consequently, a leader may need to make tough decisions based on the findings obtained from analysis. For an institution to maintain its sustainability, the business leadership model purports that leaders need to instill in employees the notion that everything within the institution is dynamic and subject to change (Drucker, 1995, p. 79).

On the other hand, servant-leaders equate the review process to an annual physical examination that someone may go through. During the annual check-up, servant-leaders and their employees examine their practices and collectively plan out strategies to strengthen their organization. As a result, servant-leaders not only meet the needs of those they serve, but also address their own needs as members of a community (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 45).


Since communication within any organization is a critical element, and all three leadership models emphasize that communication practices need to be a two-way process. Without a communication system in place, the need for change may not be understood, leaders may not be aware of what employees' needs are, and the focus of institutional work may not align with what the leader intended.

Roueche et al. (1989) believe that through the process of communication, employees and leaders will understand each others' perspectives, which they label "shared meanings and interpretations" (p. 27). Understanding between leaders and employees can unify how the work within the institution occurs. Leaders following a business leadership approach align their communications on noted strengths, capitalizing on individual worker strengths. The task of communicating becomes a job element for those who have been identified as having strengths in the area of knowledge on which decisions are based (Drucker, 1967, p. 8). Business leaders need to assure that those responsible for communicating within the institution do so in such a manner that those receiving the messages understand them. However, Drucker (1995) does go on to explain that if a problem occurs, business leaders should not look for someone to place the blame on, but consider the problem to be one of a "systems failure" (p. 37).

Leaders of post-secondary institutions, whether following transformational, business or servant-leadership theories, will require specific skills. They need to motivate their workforce to work within teams, to review their work, and to understand the vision and mission of their organization. Through the communication system, much of the understanding between leaders and employees develops what the work of the institution is and where the institution's future work is headed. Regardless which of the three leadership theories one chooses to follow, leaders will be confronted with challenges within their institutions.

Leadership challenges and suggestions for addressing them

Challenges are issues which affect the forward movement of an institution. The challenges within the three leadership theories can be grouped under the themes of response to change, employee buy-in, failure to produce, and leadership preparedness. Additionally, the theorists provide suggestions to assist leaders in overcoming the presented challenges. The first area, leadership preparedness, encompasses the ability to stay focused on what needs to be done, how a leader uses his or her time, and the ability to understand and work with data.

Leadership preparedness

For the sustainability of an organization, leaders need not only to assure that the day-to-day operations of the institution continue, but also to remain sensitive to the markets they serve and to implement changes as necessary. Inevitably, leaders experience challenges particularly if they are not disciplined in their workplaces (Spears, 1995, p. 6). Leaders often feel sandwiched between trustees, employees, and the consumers they serve. These groups make demands of the leader, frequently demands which are not aligned with each other. Roueche et al. (1989) agree that when leaders become engrossed in day-today operations, they are distracted from the work that they should be pursuing (p. 13). Expanding on the point, Drucker (1967) feels leaders may only focus on work processes, rather than the outcomes that the institution is trying to achieve (p. 52). How leaders manage their time becomes a key element in their ability to be effective in what they need, are required, and want to do.

Drucker (1967) felt many leaders spend too much time in unproductive meetings and engaging in daily decision-making practices which should be delegated to others (p. 33 & 44). Drucker (1967) believes that it is only when the leader has not employed the right individuals to do necessary work that their own time is consumed on such activities (p. 108). Additionally, leaders lose valuable time when they fail to prepare the institution and their employees for activities that occur on a regularly scheduled basis. Leaders may also find their time is squandered when they wait until the last minute to prepare for a planned, upcoming event. Finally, if the business leader has created an overstaffing issue, he or she will see employees' productivity decrease, which results in his or her time being consumed on productivity concerns.

Leaders who are unfamiliar with how to effectively use data may see their management of their institutions compromised. Roueche et al. (1989) feel leaders who have only worked in a simulated environment without any practical experience will not have gained the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage an organization (p. 4). Experience includes knowing how interpretation of data influences a leaders' decision making processes (p. 4).

Furthermore, leaders who are more focused on their own needs will not be able to move their institution forward because their energy is consumed on addressing personal needs (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 4). Greenleaf (1977) believes that leaders who do not have a clear direction for their institution will not see positive growth (p. 45). Drucker (1967) concurs with Greenleaf and feels that leaders are sometimes confused as to where they should lead their institution. Consequently, when these leaders finally make a decision, many times they are not able to follow it through (p. 110).

Suggestions for addressing the challenge of leadership preparedness begins with a leader having a passion for his institutions' current work; then secondly, for all the possibilities of furore work that may present itself (Burns, 1978, p. 455; Roueche et al., 1989, p. 13). To meet leadership challenges, servant-leaders have the trust of their employees, are sensitive to employees' needs, and take the time to reflect on how best they can assist their employees to grow with the institution (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 19 & 21; Spears, 1995, p. 5). Therefore, effective listening skills become a key quality for servant-leaders who are successful in their organizational endeavors.

Transformational leaders possess experience and knowledge obtained from past work to obtain employee commitment to work required by the organization. These leaders are not afraid to say that they do not have all the answers or skills necessary to achieve what is planned. Transformational leaders are always willing to learn new skills (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 4). Business leaders, on the other hand, feel it is their responsibility to evaluate the work that is occurring within the institution, and then add or eliminate work tasks as necessary. Drucker also suggests taking the opportunity to evaluate personnel and funding across the institution, making the necessary allocations of resources to assure work occurs and the institution moves forward (Drucker, 1967, p. 56 & 76; Drucker, 1995, p. 39).

Leaders need to consider Drucker's point on the importance of leaders' time. From a complete analysis of how his or her time is used; a leader will be able to eliminate unproductive time, avoid non-essential meetings, and delegate some of his or her current work to employees who may in fact be more appropriate to complete the work (Drucker, 1967, p. 25, 36, 37, 45, & 47). By freeing up time, leaders will be able to spend more time spearheading the initiatives that they believe will move their institution forward. From the transformational leaders' perspective, those initiatives should ultimately be the leaders' main focus. Roueche et al. believe it is up to a leader's employees to carry out the day-to-day operations of the institution.

To engage employees within the workplace, all three leadership theories share the premise that leaders create work teams. Yet, employees need to trust their leaders and be motivated to work, before teamwork can begin (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 8). Once trust is earned, leaders can delegate to work teams the problems identified from quality analysis activities. To assure teams are aware of their roles and responsibilities, transformational leaders inform teams what is expected, while remaining cognizant of the fact that each of the teams will grow and develop as they learn within their teams (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 7). Drucker suggests that sometimes leaders will need to supplement teams with additional outside hires to bring missing knowledge to the team. Greenleaf looks at teamwork from a different perspective. He believes that when employees are placed in teams, individual team members gain the opportunity to grow. However, he also recognizes an opportunity to disperse power across the team by helping employees feel that they have a vital role within their team and within the institution (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13 & 170). On the other hand, Roueche et al. (1989) caution transformational leaders to remember they are ultimately responsible for the institution, and employees need to "... understand where leadership and followership reside in any situation (Roueche, et al., 1989, p. 170).

Response to change

Leaders understand that the word change triggers different emotions and responses from employees, organizational stakeholders, and community members. The responses can be positive, especially when the leader's intentions are understood and those affected by the change believe in what the leader is trying to accomplish. However, when employees are not receptive to change within their organization, leaders will be confronted with a challenge.

A change of great magnitude or many changes occurring simultaneously can create chaos within an organization, to the extent that day-to-day operations are disrupted. Burns and Spears agree and believe that, in most instances, leaders did not intend to create a disruption within their organization. Instead, they feel the leaders were probably more focused on what they were trying to accomplish, rather than how the change would be perceived by employees. In contrast, Greenleaf suggests that when the change is of great magnitude it may result in employees pushing back because of the unknowns that arise. Employees may believe that it is easier to continue to function in their static and familiar work environments (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 10). However, Roueche et al. (1989) believe that leaders are always involved in change initiatives because that is the nature of their business. And employees may notice that there are different initiatives at different stages of implementation occurring simultaneously (p. 32). Drucker (1995) sees that as a problem because he feels that an organization should focus on only one change initiative at a time (p. 85).

Leaders may also note discord within the institution if they expect the implementation of change activities to occur immediately (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 169). Spears and Drucker concur and question whether the organizational structure and the employees are ready for the change to occur. Burns (1978) goes a step further and voices concern that discord can also occur if the leader is vague, unavailable, and not championing the change that is occurring within the institution (p. 277). From a servant-leadership perspective, challenged leaders may not be familiar with what their role is within the organization or what they need to do to assist their employees (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 329). Drucker (1967) believes if an organization does not participate in change efforts to assure it is meeting the various needs of consumers and surrounding communities, the organization probably will not survive (p. 57).

When attempting to address the potential issues that result from proposed change initiatives, leaders need to be proactive by preparing employees for what is to occur. Preparation increases a leader's sense of awareness and provides an opportunity to address employees' concerns. Burns (1978) suggests that careful preparation before implementing a change averts potential discord within the organization (p. 415). Greenleaf concurs with Burns and feels an open communicative environment moves a change effort forward in a more productive fashion. Moreover, during a preparatory period, employees are able to mentally prepare for the upcoming change while considering how the change affects their job and alters their work environment (Roueche, et al., 1989, p. 11).

Leaders need to understand that change within an institution will take time. Only after employees have requisite information to prepare for an up-coming change effort can the activities to implement the change occur. Roueche et al. (1989) explain, that work between the leader and employees is like an orchestra "... with the leader composing and orchestrating and enabling a quality sound that is achieved by and through the institutional musicians" (p. 112).

Leaders proposing change understand that sometimes the jobs within their institution will need to be re-evaluated. A position review process may involve redefining current jobs as well as eliminating others. Drucker (1967) emphasizes that leaders are responsible for evaluating positions to assure that the tasks performed are consistent with the change effort. However, when tasks are identified that cease to have value to the institution, he suggests they be eliminated (p. 80, 104, & 160). For a leader it is a difficult task because many times positions have evolved to encompass employees' personalities within them. Therefore, Drucker cautions leaders to be selective during the review process and address only those elements that affect the change effort, instead of revamping all position descriptions. The leader must work with employees so that they understand why the position descriptions need to change if the work of the institution is going to progress (Drucker, 1967, p. 109). Employees who believe that they are part of the solution for the sustainability of their institutions, are more likely, to accept how their work within the institution may need to be realigned for the change effort to be successful (Burns, 1978, p. 249; Roueche et al., 1989, p. 13).

Obtaining employee buy-in

Leaders may identify change initiatives that they believe are essential to the viability of their institution, but without the support and work required of their employees, the change may not occur or be as effective as they had hoped. The challenge of obtaining employee buy-in to strategic initiatives is critical in business, servant-leader, and transformational leadership theories.

From the transformational leader perspective, Burns (1978) suggests employees may feel they are being manipulated and only provided with limited information while leaders are only responsive to the needs of external stakeholders (p. 142, 426, & 458). Roueche et al. (1989) concur with Burn's point and add that sometimes transformational leaders rely only on data to convince employees of the necessity for change (p. 112). On the other hand, Greenleaf (1977) voices concerns whether servant-leaders and employees are listening to each other and whether there is too much or too little communicating going on with little time to reflect on what is being discussed (p. 17 & 18).

Change also may evoke various emotional responses among employees. Greenleaf (1977) mentions feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed (p. 27), while Roueche et al. (1989) suggest employees may feel a loss of power, identity, and trust in those who are championing the change initiative (p. 27 & 128). Drucker concurs that employees may lose trust in their leaders and adds that the loss may undermine their loyalty to the leader and his or her vision. Additionally, employees question why a change is being implemented now, what skills will be required of employees, and how the change aligns with the vision of the organization (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 27; Drucker, 1995, p. 43 & 109).

Roueche et al. (1989) feel employee trust in the leadership will increase employee buy-in for the proposed ventures. They go on to suggest that the buy-in can occur by developing open communication systems within an institution (p, 9). By leaders revisiting with their employees the mission for the institution and providing explanations why changes are being recommended, employees gain a fuller understanding of what is to occur. However, Roueche et al. (1989, p. 6) also recommend that within whatever open communication system is created, employees should feel that they can freely voice their opinion. Drucker (1967) adds to the point by stating that "disagreement is needed to stimulate the imagination" (p. 152).

Greenleaf (1977) recommends that leaders should practice being patient when communicating with employees and not expect an immediate response from them. He also feels leaders should think before speaking--by questioning themselves whether what they have to say will add to the discussion or distract employees from reflecting on what has already been said (p. 17). Leaders need to clearly recognize that employees will interpret communications from their own perspective, based on their experiences and the knowledge they alone have. Leaders may gain from their employees additional perspectives that they had not considered, perspectives that could then strengthen the operations or initiatives being proposed. Another by-product of an open communication system is employees becoming ambassadors with the leader as they collectively work towards sustaining their institution (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 6).

Another habit leaders should incorporate into their communications with employees is the use of positive feedback, especially when employees are working toward a goal they have been charged with. Roueche et al. (1989) feel that employees who feel their work is appreciated by their leaders will strive to do good work (p. 8 & 26). Drucker (1995) suggests that additional work could be delegated to employees, thus allowing them to use the knowledge they have, which in the past may not have been recognized (p. 89). Through a process of recognition for performing good work, leaders are able not only to enhance the responsibilities of their employees, but also free up a leader's time to explore additional avenues for institutional growth.

A final challenge occurs when leaders begin a change effort within their institution, establish a goal for the change effort, but then the predicted goal is not realized. Lack of results may strongly affect those who have worked towards achieving the goal, as well as other interested stakeholders.

Greenleaf (1977) suggests that sometimes leaders are so absorbed in the internal and external issues challenging their institutions they do not think through their proposals as thoroughly as they should (p. 11). The same may occur if the servant-leader becomes more focused on what he or she may gain if the change is implemented, versus spending time working with employees on the change effort. Although leaders may envision how a change will strengthen the organization, due to the many responsibilities leaders have, they may become distracted and not focus clearly on the change effort they are proposing.

Drucker states that the higher up a leader moves within an organizational structure "... his attention will be drawn to problems and challenges on the inside rather than to events on the outside" (Drucker, 1967, p. 15). Consequently, the outcome(s) established by change efforts may be affected. Roueche et al. believe that being a leader is not an easy job because employees and external stakeholders demand some of the leader's time. Additionally, given the nature of some organizations, there may be requirements such as regulatory tasks or external agreements which limit the amount of influence a leader may have on certain change efforts (Roueche et al., 1989, p. 5). Drucker (1967) sums this up by stating "pressures always favor yesterday" thus, what needs to occur to prepare institutions for the future, may be hindered (p.109).

Similarly, Burns (1978) questions whether the leader has enough passion for the change effort to excite those who need to be involved in the change process. He suggests that leaders may be able to analyze and define what needs to transpire, but they may not engage the employees whose work will make the change happen (p. 247). Drucker believes some leaders just do not spend the necessary time with employees to effect change, to assure that their employees understand what is to occur and why it is occurring. If employees do not have all the information necessary to do the tasks requested of them, leaders may find that employees have completed their tasks incorrectly. The result is wasted effort, and the work will have to be redone (Drucker, 1967, p. 46).


Future community' college leaders will have the responsibility" for the overall operations of their institutions. Clearly, these leaders must be futuristic in their thinking to assure that their organizations are able to sustain themselves in a volatile, ever-changing global world. They may want to consider an examination of the business, servant-leadership and transformational leadership models. The key areas are managing practices, the challenges that may arise, and potential suggestions to address challenges.

Regardless of the leadership model future leaders may follow, they will need to effectively manage their institutions if they are going to be successful. In all three leadership models, leaders need to exhibit specific work practices, engage employees, and incorporate systems thinking within their institutions. For example, servant-leaders focus on serving others and putting employees' needs in the forefront. Transformational leaders work on creating trust with their employees. They can then delegate the day-today operations to their employees, freeing leaders to focus on exploring new opportunities for the institution. Drucker stresses the importance of capitalizing on employee strengths and building in quality review systems as the work of the institution moves forward. All three models stress the importance of teamwork and effective communication practices.

It is through teamwork and communication practices that the identified challenges presented within the three leadership models can be addressed. Leaders are monitoring the effectiveness of the day-to-day operations and exploring, then creating, initiatives that increase the sustainability of the organization. As the initiatives are implemented, it is the responsibility of the leader to assure employees understand what is occurring, why it is occurring, and what employees' responsibilities are regarding the actions being taken. Thus with an open communication system employees are better prepared for changes.

Finally, future community college leaders need time to focus their attention on the work that needs to occur within their organization. The business leadership model stresses that leaders should examine how their time is used and eliminate those activities that are non-essential. Then community college leaders are able to focus their energy on the initiatives that maintain their organizations' sustainability and viability.


American Association of Community Colleges. (2005). Competencies for community college leaders. [Brochure]. Washington, DC: Author.

American Association of Community Colleges. (2006). Growing your own leaders: Community colleges step up. Washington, DC: Community College Press.

Boggs, G. R. (2003). Leadership context for the twenty-first century. New Directions For Community Colleges, 123, 15-25.

About Peter Drucker. (2009). Retrieved April 13, 2009, from Claremount Graduate University, Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management Web site: http://www.cgu.edu/pages/292.asp

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row.

Drucker, P.F. (1967). The effective executive. New York: Harper and Row.

Drucker, P.F. (1995). Managing in a time of great change. New York: Penguin Books.

Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. (2008). What is servant leadership? Retrieved April 13, 2009, from http://www.greenleaf.org/whatissl/index.html

Greenteaf, R. (1977). The servant as leader. New Jersey: Paulist Press.

Roueche, J. E., Baker, G. A., & Rose, R. R. (1997). Shared vision: Transformational leadership in community, colleges. Washington, D. C.: Community, College Press.

Spears, L. C. Editor. (1995). Reflections on leadership. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Transformational leadership. (2002-2009). Retrieved April 13, 2009, from ingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/transformational_leadership.htm

Weisman, I. M., & Vaughan, G. B. (2007). The community college presidency: 2006 (Report No AACC-RB-07-1). Washington, DC: American Association of Community Colleges.

Ms. Hawkins is the Associate Dean of Liberal Arts at Schoolcraf-t College in Livonia, Michigan.

Table 1. Competencies for community college leaders vis-a-vis
leadership models

LEADERSHIP           Competencies
SKILLS               for Community
EMPHASIZED          College Leaders       BUSINESS

Active visionary           X
Goal-directed              X
Active dreamer
Intuitive                  X
Globally aware             X                 X
Time manager                                 X
Listener                   X
Communicator               X
Trustworthy                X
Ethical                    X
Tenacious                  X
Selfless                   X
Politically aware          X
Motivator                  X
Team-builder               X
Decision-maker             X                 X
Systems thinker            X                 X
Manages resources          X                 X
Advocate                   X


Active visionary           X                 X
Goal-directed              X                 X
Active dreamer             X
Intuitive                                    X
Globally aware
Risk-taker                                   X
Time manager
Listener                   X
Communicator               X
Trustworthy                X                 X
Empathetic                 X
Ethical                                      X
Tenacious                                    X
Selfless                                     X
Politically aware                            X
Motivator                                    X
Decision-maker             X                 X
Systems thinker                              X
Manages resources
Advocate                                     X

Table 2. Roles in leadership models


                        BUSINESS      SERVANT     TRANSFORMATIONAL

Change Agent                                             X
Effectiveness/              X
  Efficiency Monitor
Peace-maker                              X
Role-model/Mentor                                        X
Empowers                    X                            X
Supervisor                  X            X               X
Team Builder                X            X               X

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A213083694