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Effective Leadership Communication: A Guide for Department Chairs and Deans for Managing Difficult Situations and People

ISBN: 978-1-933371-19-1
272 pages
January 2007, Jossey-Bass
Effective Leadership Communication: A Guide for Department Chairs and Deans for Managing Difficult Situations and People (1933371196) cover image
Conflict can appear with varying degrees of intensity or hostility, but if ignored or managed ineffectively, it can slow or jeopardize an institution's success. Chairs and deans, who have leadership responsibilities to both administrators and faculty, often find a significant portion of their jobs devoted to conflict management. Their leadership success depends on their ability to effectively manage a variety of conflict-laden situations, and negotiate people’s varying needs and personalities.

This book, at its core, is about communication strategies that support effective leadership. First it shows how to establish a foundation for effective leadership communication; next, it discusses developing a fair and effective leadership communication style; and finally, it shows how to employ leadership communication to manage especially difficult people, from prima donnas to pot stirrers.

Each chapter contains a series of questions and prompts to guide readers through a hypothetical but realistic situation, and encourages them to cultivate and practice the first-person participant and third-person observer roles. By moving between these two perspectives, readers will gain more insight into their own style of managing conflict and understanding of leadership. This skill also permits academic leadership to have more strategic control over the communication in a particular situation, thus empowering them to feel and to be more in control in every situation.

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About the Authors.



1. Using the Institutional Mission to Empower Performance.

2. Setting Precedents Carefully.

3. Sharing Decision-Making Criteria to Inform Requests.

4. Establishing Your Leadership Credibility.

5. Building Relationships.


6. Managing Interpersonal Conflict.

7. Managing the Search Process.

8. Managing Performance Counseling.

9. Managing Faculty Morale, Changing Duties, and Shrinking Resources.

10. Managing Up and Out.


11. Managing Personal Agendas.

12. Containing the Pot Stirrer/Troublemaker.

13. Working With the Prima Donna/Drama Queen.

14. Managing the Confrontation Junkie.

15. Engaging the Passive and Indifferent Soul.

Annotated Bibliography.


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Mary Lou Higgerson is president of for academic affairs and dean of the college at Baldwin-Wallace College. She also serves on the board of trustees at Elmhurst College. Since the 1980s she has used her knowledge of organizational communication and more that 25 years of experience in higher education administration to help other college administrators. Dr. Higgerson is a regular presented at the American Council on Education Chairing the Academic department Workshop series and the Kansas State University Academic chairpersons Conference. She has consulted at numerous institutions and is known for publications and presentations that offer immediately useful insights to practicing administrators. The recipient of eight prestigious teaching awards, including the Distinguished teacher Award at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Bill Cashin Award for outstanding research contribution to the study and practice of higher education administration, Dr. Higgerson brings a hopeful clarity to complex issues that pose stressful conditions for chairs and deans.

Teddi A. Joyce is vice president for marketing, enrollment, and student services at The University of South Dakota. She previously served as associate academic dean and director of academic planning and research at Baldwin-Wallace College. With more than 16 years in various administrative capacities, her foci include using research to inform planning and decision-making processes, facilitating communication to help strengthen institutional planning, and understanding the role of public relations in the development of image. Prior to joining Baldwin-Wallace, Dr. Joyce worked in private industry. Her experiences with and insights into organizational issues in higher education provide a broad, practical understanding of today’s challenge.

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"This book is for those who serve or aspire to serve as chairs of deans in higher education . . . " (Journal of Continuing Higher Education, Fall 2007)
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