Defining online leaders

Eddy and VanDerLinden (2006) studied the self reported description of leaders in higher education, more specifically 2 year colleges. In their articles “Emerging Definition of Leadership in Higher Education” published in the Community College Review (vol. 34, issue 1), they discuss the various types of leadership in post secondary. Changes in leadership have been changing considering the decline in resources, changing student demographics and teaching practices, and the influence of technology and the information age.

They state “the literature suggests that alternative leadership styles are replacing the traditionally held definitions of leadership and provide new and different (probably superior) ways to understand leadership … recognized as an activity that can ‘bubble up’ in various places within the institutions and no longer is only focused on formal leadership roles” (p. 6) .. or the “great man” role.

Variations of leadership styles are: transformational, cultural, and shared leadership, distributed, multidimensional and learning organization leadership.

Results from their survey questioning leaders on their percieved roles they determined:

  • the rank of the leader determined thier definition of leadership, such as the president, yet are limited in the amount of power and control and amount of direct change
  • presidents are less apt to describe thier leadership style using teams or empowering others
  • administrators perceive themselves as leaders most likely due to thier smaller circle of influence, and can enact change
  • distance education administrators see themselves less as leaders, in a lower rank and experience barriers, thus marginalized
  • student affairs and learning resource staff saw themselves as fulfilling the mission of the institution, with direct ties between thier leadership and the work of the college
  • colleges
  • these findings show a call for a shift to participatory leadership, but can the bureaucratic orientation of colleges allow for alternative modes of leadership

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