Integrity and social intelligence

‘I think that a lot of leadership is about self awareness. It’s the willingness to step back and look at yourself and gain some insight about yourself’ [30]; to ask yourself what it is that not only' ‘excites’ you but also ‘what is it that makes me become defensive and gets in the way of my effectiveness?’ Senior staff are ‘so busy managing the day to day that the biggest challenge ... is the fact that they don’t make the time to step back and think about the kinds of things they' could be doing’.

A study entitled ‘The Irony of Integrity’, reviewed by Schachter [31], investigated strengths in middle level and senior managers/leaders and indicated that character strengths are related to self-awareness, and- ‘there should be a focus on increasing or enhancing these strengths’. They showed that self-awareness and integrity are very important for effective leadership. Leaders must have ‘the ability to get along, read other people, and smooth over differences’ (part of Wasicsko and Balch’s creating ‘good relationships’, above [19]). More specifically, ‘middle-level managers should focus on social intelligence as well as integrity, particularly if they have aspirations for succeeding in top-level positions where integrity is of the utmost importance’.

The NHS Leadership Academy ‘Leadership Framework’ [32], the AU A (AUA CoPS 2009/10) [33], and others [16, 20] confirm the importance of demonstrating these dispositions and talents. The AUA list some of the core talents/ aptitudes, enhanced by experience, on which candidates for senior HE roles are most likely to be identified- including particularly, fairness and integrity, distinctiveness, self-management, inter-personal skills and personal style. If one checks the personal quality ambitions and expectations for new graduates detailed by universities, employers and career services, such as the National Careers Service and Career Builder, they tie-in closely with the qualities expected by senior HE staff of their HE leaders. Thus, perhaps, there should be a drive towards ensuring we appoint leaders who emulate the type of graduates universities are endeavouring to produce. Webley [34], a VC and psychologist, confirms that strategy and action plans alone are not enough, ‘success ultimately depends on your ability to get the voluntary commitment rather than the forced obedience of your colleagues’. As Farwell [35] reminds VCs, the most important aspect of a VC’s role is ‘building strong, open and trusting relationships- it is a people thing’.

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