Leadership: Managing Relationships
what is it really? It is about
leadership and management. That
much we know. Each of these
responsibilities has been defined in various ways.
John W. Gardner, for instance, said that “leadership is a performing
art.” Howard Haas observed that
leadership really “is an attitude and a state of mind.”
Sarah Weddington noted
that “leadership is the ability to impact the lives of others.”
Further, Robert Greenleaf stated that a leader is one who aspires to
a law school’s constituencies are so varied, how one manages and leads must,
by definition, be multifaceted. If
one attempts to describe the characteristics of leadership, many descriptions
emerge. A leader must be
visionary and have the ability to communicate the vision and aspirations for
the institution. The leader must
be confident and decisive, but also a good listener.
The leader must have integrity and be seen by others to be honest and
trustworthy, and one who creates a climate of trust.
The leader needs to be persistent, not impatient.
The leader also must have drive, energy, and enthusiasm for the job, as
well as being a long-term strategic thinker, who is also setting and reaching
new goals. The usual should not
define the leader’s agenda or calendar.
One must look beyond the routine of the day.
Leaders produce change through sound judgment and a consensus-style of
Woodrow Wilson said, “the ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the
people.” To build coalitions,
the leader must consult frequently and listen carefully.
Equally important is a positive attitude that helps facilitate
confidence in and reliability of the leader.
Overall, the leader must be able to articulate and communicate a plan
for change and harmony that will be persuasive and appreciated by a large
number of the constituent group.
There are, of course, major
differences between leading and managing.
In contrast to the characteristics of leadership described above,
management requires organizing, planning, motivating, economizing, and careful
attention to detail. A manager
must function at the micro level, while the leader generally should reserve
the majority of his or her time to the macro level of planning.
This can be accomplished by selecting well an administrative team and
by delegating some decision-making to one’s administrative colleagues.
Selective delegation can ensure an effective balance between leading
law school dean, to be effective and to be seen as effective, must strive to
be good at both leading and managing. With
both, the perception by the constituent group is as important as is the
reality of the situation. The
final judgment on the success of the dean also will depend on the
institutional context, including the expectations of the constituents as seen
through the institution’s traditions and culture.
the common thread that connects the two characteristics, the skill to manage
and to lead, of a successful dean is how the dean “manages relationships.”
With multiple constituencies, how the dean interacts and manages the
relationship among and between the often-conflicting goals of each constituent
group is the key to success.
Daniel Goleman has written so well, sheer intelligence or brilliance
does not define or predict success at leading or managing.
Rather “emotional intelligence” is the crucial element.
This includes the dean’s personality, style, temperament,
persistence, empathy, social deftness, good listening skills and understanding
of human emotions.
smart about other people’s strengths, weaknesses, needs, temperaments,
motivations, desires, and goals is the literacy of managing relationships in a
positive, productive way. Understanding
this discernment of interpersonal skills and the nature of human conduct
transcends all of a dean’s talents and functions and indeed the dean’s
competencies to lead, to manage, and to motivate others toward shared goals.
Decanal leadership, then, is defined by the process through which the
dean cultivates and manages relationships with all the relevant constituencies.
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law
School. The author has been
influenced by and has drawn from for this essay the research and scholarship
of John W. Gardner, Daniel Goleman, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns,
Robert K. Greenleaf, and Stephen R. Covey.
For a more thorough review of the thoughts sketched here, see Daniel
Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1995: Bantam Books); Howard Gardner,
Leading Minds (1995: Basic Books); John W. Gardner, Leadership Papers: The
Nature of Leadership, The Task of Leadership, The Heart of the Matter,
Leadership and Power (1986: The Independent Sector); Stephen R. Covey, The
Habits of Highly Effective People (1989: Franklin Covey); James MacGregor
Burns, Leadership (1978: Harper & Row); and Robert K. Greenleaf, The
Power of Servant Leadership (1998: Berrett‑Koehler Publishers).
Footnotes are available on request from the author.
The author would like to thank Robert Bruininks and Gene Borgida for
their thoughtful comments.