Timiyo, A.J. (2016) Conceptualisation of the leading manager theory in higher education institutions: insights from servant leadership. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Managing Higher Education Institutions, during periods of change and transformation, can be daunting; and calls for good leadership principles within these institutions. Unfortunately, there are no particular leadership principles by which Higher Education Institutions can effectively be managed. Servant leadership might possibly bridge this gap. Hence, this study seeks to develop and thus, present a leadership theory for the effective administration of Higher Education Institutions. Informed by an interpretivist philosophical paradigm, the study adopted grounded theory research design to purposively collect data among twenty-five leaders in nine Higher Education Institutions in England and Scotland through a semi-structured, but well-adjusted interview schedule. The data was transcribed verbatim, coded to identify core categories, and further analysed using NVivo 10, first and second order modified Prasad (1993) concept card. Based on work motivation and Upper Echelon theories, the study provides empirical evidences that the leadership narrative in Higher Education Institutions is inconsistent, yet quite fascinating. Five leadership orientations— assertive, defensive, subjective, positional and systemic, as well as five leadership practices— diversity, professionalism, open door policy, creative thinking and servant leadership principles, were identified from the data. A total of eleven servant leadership principles were found, which are accountability, awareness, communication, empathy, exemplary leading, fore-sight/vision, integrity/honesty, mentoring/pastoral care, Personal and Professional Development (PPD), self-sacrificing, and trust/humility. While most of the principles are similar to those identified from previous studies, Personal and Professional Development is quite significant to this study. Participants also suggested three leadership taxonomies— blended, collegial and contextual leadership approaches, needed for the effective management of Higher Education Institutions. However, contrary to previous research findings, collegial leadership was the most preferred among the three approaches. Beyond extending and advancing research on servant leadership and Higher Education Institutions, this study presents the Leading Manager Theory to demonstrate the complexity of managing the institutions. It uniquely combines two different theories to gain contextual knowledge and understanding of servant leadership. The study has theoretical, practical and societal implications.

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