The history and sociology of faculty career transitions to deanships is an intriguing phenomenon, given that the skill sets of accomplished scholars vary immensely from the duties and responsibilities of academic deans. On top of that, today’s academic deans face particularly challenging leadership dilemmas. Navigating the transition from a scholarly focus to adopt a more team-oriented, managerial approach may prove difficult, especially when personal interests might need to be sacrificed for the unit’s collective gain—an idea not necessarily supported or rewarded in a researcher/scholar paradigm. This exploratory, qualitative study sought to examine if executive coaching is an effective strategy to swiftly and ably prepare deans for the unique requirements of the position, as well as to equip them with and/or improve transformational leadership skills. Results were favorable towards coaching and showed associations in transformational leadership to be strongest in the component of intellectual stimulation; provided with new information from their executive coaches, deans were more skillful in fostering innovation and creativity among their followers. Deans also described improvements in self-awareness, self-care, and in empathetic behavior—outcomes that showed the deans received value on a personal level and not just professionally. As perceived by the deans, coaches achieved these outcomes by building trust, the superior quality of their listening skills, and their ability to offer useful perspectives. The information provided in this study might challenge higher education institutions to consider executive coaching as a way to eliminate blind spots and address personal and organizational challenges that academic deans encounter.
Education Policy and Leadership
Ashley Tull, PhD
Gail Hartin, PhD
David Zelman, PhD
executive coaching, higher education, academic dean, transformational leadership, organizational effectiveness
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Bertrand, David, "A Qualitative Study on the Practice of Executive Coaching to Improve Leadership Capacity in Academic Deans at American Higher Education Institutions" (2018). Department of Education Policy and Leadership Theses and Dissertations. 2.