Following an extensive career in the private sector, Allan Filipowicz decided to enter academia. Going so far as to attain a Ph.D. at Harvard, he developed over the last 15 years a course on the psychology of leadership, which now is being offered as an online certificate program offered at eCornell. Filipowicz​’s course looks into ways leaders, or those hoping to become leaders, can better understand and influence people in positive ways — and it includes lessons for higher education leaders, often facing unique challenges on the job and with managing employee relationships.

“In that space you have a tougher job because your metrics are not as clear. If you’re out building and selling stuff, your metrics are pretty straightforward. Did you bring in revenue and are you turning a profit?” said Filipowicz. “But in education, your metrics are tougher.”

The class is geared towards mid-to-upper level managers and executives seeking to improve lines of communication and understanding with their employees. Filipowicz describes the course as one he wish he had before he embarked on his own career. And in discussing the challenges facing decision-makers in postsecondary education, he stressed working with a variety of employees, including those who are mostly seeking to publish work, as the multiple perspectives can help leaders better understand and influence people.

“Those skills become more important as the situation becomes murkier,” he said. “And in education you are in a murkier situation.”

Filipowicz also says understanding other people is particularly paramount for school leaders, who constantly manage diverse groups of constituents with strong, varied opinions. A chief engineer, he said as an example, is primarily working with a team of like-minded and similarly skilled employees, but a school leader must contend with the needs and opinions of other administrators, parents, faculty and others.

“If you cannot understand people who are different from you, you will have a real challenge on your hands,” he said. “In an educational setting, you have to understand heterogeneous audiences.”

Filipowicz cautions school leaders also need to consider the potential impact of “expectancy effects,” explaining that if an individual in a position of power believes something about someone’s potential, it will probably come through in that person’s performance. Filipowicz says he is amazed the importance of mitigating negative expectancy is not being taught to educators and school leaders. He says evidence supports the fact that if leaders encourage drive in individuals, performance levels can go up, while the opposite view can have a detrimental effect on the individual’s work.

Filipowicz also stresses the importance of building strong project teams, asserting teams are often incorrectly constructed by leaders who don’t understand the strengths of each person.

From: educationdive.com  |  October 15, 2017  |  By: Pat Donachie

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