Learning has increased over the years, and gaining notoriety as an alternative way of learning. It has been recognized as a flexible and convenient educational experience for students. Advancements in technology encourage the growth of online programs in higher education institutions. This requires a need for strong distance education leadership in implementing DE programs, new technology and employing new skilled personnel. Good distance education leadership requires a variety of “personal qualities, abilities, technical skills, interpersonal skills, and organizational skills,” vital to the success of distance education programs where change is constant.
Good leaders have the ability to forecast, develop and adapt their skills when necessary. More importantly, they encourage and motivate their staff to operate with strategic goals in the forefront. As such, my role as Director of Online Training and Development at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) is to oversee developing and implementing distance learning programs to its 1399 full-time employees and 2,962 adjunct faculty and part-time staff.
Since staff are geographically located between three main campuses, and three satellite campuses, managing from a distance becomes necessary.
My position will require transformational, charismatic and transactional leadership skills that will enable me to lead my diverse staff of instructional designers, program coordinators and subject experts tasked with implementing quality online training to CCBC staff, utilizing the college’s learning management system Blackboard. This leadership style will enable me to motivate my staff to align their work with the institutions’ overall mission and goals. It will also motivate and encourage them to provide specific job related training and use instructional technology and curriculum design in their current positions.
Qualities and traits that I possess and believe are important to lead my team are excellent communication skills, self-awareness, trust, commitment, creativity, and inspirational. I envision my style of managing as charismatic, transformative, and transactional in a team-oriented environment. I will be accountable in my leadership role, as it is crucial to gain the trust of my staff.
My team is responsible for establishing professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to implement best practices to facilitate learning, so keeping them motivated to stay on task is imperative to the overall operation of the institution. Working in the distance education field, requires leaders to be adaptable. As Director of Online Training and Development, recognizing that there are many approaches to leadership, there are many variables and situations that may arise within the organization that require me to use various theoretical approaches. Leadership theories that would be helpful in my position would be transformative, charismatic and transactional concepts.
The transformative model of leadership proposed by James McGregor Burns, contrasted transformative and transactional leadership. Transformative leadership appeals to the values of followers to act on behalf of ethical issues. Some leaders can be charismatic and good at motivating others to excel beyond what they intended or expected. They also empower others with commendation, and are perceptive in recognizing their staffs’ individual needs for personal development to excel in their jobs. Transformative leaders are very supportive in assisting their staff to develop to their full potential.
As a leader, my role would be to assist my staff in developing their skills by providing continuous professional development and motivate them to see the value in providing quality service to our students, staff and faculty. I will show my commitment to the team by being transparent and keeping my word, so that my staff trust my leadership. Listening to their ideas and allowing them to express concerns on processes will allow them to feel satisfied in being heard. The outcomes I expect from my team in return would be for them to show commitment and loyalty focusing on accomplishing departmental goals. My role in leading my team with transformative concepts will lead to running an effective department, allowing staff to be active participants (team building), having a voice in decisions, and encouraging dialogue in the change management processes that involve them.
A major skill that is necessary in gaining the trust of others is keeping the lines of communication open, as well as having ethical behavior that they can aspire to emulate. Charismatic leadership will allow me to appeal to my staffs’ values, focusing on their talents and consistently articulate departmental goals in helping them succeed. Communicating expectations will demonstrate my interest in each person’s goals. By recognizing each individual has certain needs and skill levels, I would utilize them in ways their talents would be useful. Providing direction is key to the success of the team because this will motivate them to take on challenges and demonstrate they are committed to strategic goals.
Applying charismatic concepts will engage and encourage positive outcomes from staff. Qualities expressed are a strong sense of conviction, assertiveness, and self-confidence when communicating with others. This qualities can be helpful when communicating departmental goals and plans. They articulate their passion and conviction through body language and words that move others to be motivated. Being charismatic allows staff to build up trust because they see how convicted their leader is, and how they demonstrate concern for others. This makes change more acceptable.
Transactional leadership focuses on supervising group performance through rewards or punishments, paying attention to staff talents and skills, and giving attention to specific tasks to be completed by stressing specific task performance. In order to promote structure and assist staff to find value in the processes established in the department, I believe transactional leadership model will allow me to manage my department through collaborative efforts. Bass (1985) describes transactional behavior as leadership satisfying the need of their followers via reward or recognition in exchange for performing an agreed task or goal. I will accomplish this by reinforcing and communicating the importance of self-efficacy when they achieve their goals.
Allowing staff to see the value in their professional development where they will benefit in their jobs is important aspect of leading. I will direct others to adhere to established culture (procedures), but allow them to share their ideas. This will foster a trusting and a supporting environment. Knowledge sharing is an aspect of transactional leadership as what I know will transfer to those I lead. Through coaching, information on processes can be shared throughout the department, which contributes to an atmosphere of encouragement and knowledge based rewards to the employees.
Performance evaluations are a good way to communicate individual performance and let staff know their performance is aligned to departmental goals. Keeping employees informed of their responsibilities and expectations contributes to staffs’ performance. I would trust my staff to take an active role in their day-to-day workflow, unless an issue arise. However, I will monitor staffs’ progress by staying focused on short-term goals, enforcing policies and procedures, and trust staff with their commitment to given task. The benefit of leading my team by transactional leadership is it will bring structure to the department, assist staff in learning the job without extensive training, and lead to results.
In conclusion, having a knowledge and applying various leadership concepts outlined above will assist me as Director of Online Training and Development to put theory to practice. It will allow me to identify strategies in getting my employees to accept change, and build strong teams. Despite staff being geographically separated, applying transformative, charismatic, and transactional leadership concepts will build a foundation for employees to trust my leadership and feel motivated, empowered, and a part of change management. Although there are some opposed to change, I believe my analysis of the following concepts will lead to staff becoming active as stakeholders in the organization, which will lead to desirable outcomes. The above mentioned leadership concepts, in addition with using technology, will assist me in creating an efficient team when change arise. My abilities as a leader, leading at a distance will require me to possess the following competencies.