South African Journal of Higher Education

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Leadership development in South African higher education: The heart of the matter

O Zuber-Skerritt


An extensive literature on leadership theories and models concerns large organizations in industry and has been developed mostly by outside researchers with expertise in conducting large surveys on and interviews with ‘subjects' in leadership positions. Recently, such theories have been adopted or adapted to higher education in South Africa. These theories and their derived guidelines for practice in higher education present some interesting ideas but have rarely been of practical, transformational value and benefit to academic leadership development (ALD). This article aims to take an alternative approach to ALD that can be developed actively from ‘inside out' by the participants themselves through reflection on their own character and values (the heart of the matter), rather than through application of theory ‘from the outside in'. Thus,
the research and development discussed in this article are for and with people as ‘participants' in the research, rather than on people as ‘subjects' in the research. In this way, the article contributes to a new paradigm and model of self-developed leadership in higher education in the light of Covey's (1992) ‘principle-centred leadership' and Maxwell's (1999, 2000) ‘indispensable qualities of a leader' and the action learning concept of ‘failing forward', that is, turning mistakes into stepping stones for success.

J South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 21 (7) 2008: pp. 984-1005
AJOL African Journals Online