Leadership is a topic that never seems to go away. We have spilled much ink over it and probably always will. Amazon.Com lists nearly 200,000 titles dealing in some way with leadership. A subject search in my universitys library of 550,000 books produces over 400 works on it, more than 1,800 when I perform a keyword search. Reviewing titles of books, it is clear that leadership comes in endless flavors: Servant Leadership, Primal Leadership, Monday Morning Leadership, Spiritual Leadership, Principle-Centered Leadership, Courageous Leadership, Authentic Leadership, Resonant Leadership, Heroic Leadership, Quiet Leadership, Womens Ways of Leadership, Collaborative Leadership, Moral Leadership, Unnatural Leadership, Contrarian Guide to Leadership; the list goes on.
Clearly, leadership is a topic that fascinates us, eludes us, inspires us, or even confuses us. And it is here to stay. Whether we like it or not, the hierarchical systems in which we work mean we will always need leadersthose persons who will play important roles in influencing the questions we ask and their resulting outcomes, who will make decisions on the allocation of material and human resources, and whose style will influence profoundly the nature as well as morale of an organizations present and future. We are reminded of its importance in the collective results of day-to-day actions as well as in responses to immense tragedies such as that which befell Virginia Tech this spring.
Academe presents its own unique challenges to leadership. We are, by nature, self-governing, less hierarchical, and more reliant on consensus-building than other professions. As in other fields, however, chairpersons and deans also serve in and negotiate many roles. They are advocates for their programs, faculty, and students; fiscal, operations, and personnel managers; strategic planners; mentors; and, now more often than not, fundraisers. This mixture of duties can be a tall order for musicians who were not taking leadership seminars between practicing Beethoven sonatas, writing sixteenth-century polyphony, orchestrating compositions, conducting a choir, or researching film music, to name just a few of the many areas in which we were trained.
How does one become an effective leader in academe, particularly in music? This year the Committee on Administration turns to the topic of leadership. While only broaching the subject, we hope to provide CMS members with thoughts, sources, insight, and training that may assist individuals either with some administrative duties (chairs, directors, assistant chairs, etc.) or those who are curious about careers in administration. In the next issue of the Newsletter, Don Casey, Dean of the School of Music at DePaul University, will write about leading from behind. The November Newsletter will feature a review of a book on leadership judged to be of value by a committee member. Finally, the committee will present a session at the national conference in Salt Lake on leadership. Titled Herding Cats or Thrown to the Wolves?: Leadership and the Department Chair, it is designed for faculty who will assume chair duties as part of a scheduled rotation within their departments and for faculty interested in exploring administration as a career.
Great leadership takes us to places we only can imagine; it has qualities that engender optimism and trust. Bad leadership enrages us: it can be disillusioning at the least and harmful at its worst. Considering leaderships important role in supporting, facilitating, or encouraging the work all of us do, the topic is clearly something we should study, question, explore, discuss, debate, and develop. The Committee on Administration aspires to support effective service and career development of administrators, promote and advocate administration as a career path for faculty, and serve as a resource for experienced administrators. Join us this year as we draw our attention to leadership.