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Educator’s Role 3 of 7: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor…

Compiled by: Dr G. Wolvaardt and Dr C.J. Henley-Smith

The opening lyrics of the Yardbirds song is a metaphor for the many roles that lecturers need to fulfil. Not only are they required to design the curriculum and teach it, but they also need to be role models and task managers within their fields too. Just as a lecturer’s role changes, so to must the lecturer continuously change and adapt to changing circumstances. Else they face the very real danger of stagnating in their personal and professional development.

One of the seven roles of an educator is that of being an administrator, manager and leader. This requires the educator to have the competency to manage the complex managerial and leadership functions increasingly required in the academic environment.  Leadership and management skills are essential not only in formal academic managerial positions but also in the day to day role of the educator.

Unfortunately, an “amateur” management culture still predominates in academia with subject matter experts often being promoted to leadership and managerial positions without a concerted effort to ensure that they develop the required managerial competencies inherent to such positions.

This phenomenon of amateur managers is not exclusive to academia and is generally prevalent in technical areas where contextual subject matter knowledge is seen as a prerequisite for assuming a leadership role.  However, not supplementing such contextual knowledge with managerial training usually produces managers associated with sub-optimal organizational performance.  In a definitive 25 year study, of more than 40 000 managers by Rook and Torbert, that categorized managers by “action logic” or how they viewed the world, they found that the majority of technical experts promoted to managerial positions operated from what was categorised as an “expert” action logic.  In managerial positions this action logic was generally associated with poor organizational performance due to various poor leadership practices such as, a rigid conviction of the infallibility of their own opinions, an inclination to view collaboration as a waste of time and a tendency to treat the opinion of colleagues, who in their opinion, were lesser qualified with contempt. Fortunately, this study showed that action logics are acquired and can be transformed through management and leadership training programmes. 

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References:

  • Open Education Resources Africa. The seven roles. Viewed on 25 March 2019. https://www.oerafrica.org/
  • Rook, D. & Torbert, W.D. 2004. Seven Transformations of Leadership. The Harvard Business Review, April, 1-13.








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