Leadership and team development in higher education : the case of the Faculty of Arts, Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University
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The academic environment in higher education institutions has changed over the last years due to certain factors, which in turn, have influenced the way in which higher education institutions are governed. This has resulted in a shift in the way management and leadership are approached to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in higher education institutions. The role of teams in the academic environment is crucial to assist the institution in meeting institutional goals and adhering to national educational objectives, which in turn assumes that leadership is a key element in the development of successful teams. However, it is necessary to distinguish between leadership and management as these concepts are not synonyms and have different operational functions. The focus of this study is to ascertain what the leadership role of School Directors in the Faculty of Arts of the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University (NWU), is in team development. As the NWU is a higher education institution, it is important to place the focus of the study in this context and, therefore, a description is given of the higher education environment in South Africa. Tuckman and Jensen’s (1977) five-stage model of team development is used to ascertain whether the academic teams in the Faculty of Arts are functioning optimally and whether there is, in fact, team development. This model is furthermore important for this study as it ascertains whether the School Director assists and plays an active role in the development of the team. The study furthermore aims to establish whether a transformational or transactional leadership style, or both, is portrayed by School Directors and which of these styles, or a presence of both styles, enhances the leadership role of School Directors in team development. The empirical findings were obtained by means of a qualitative research method. Semi-structured questionnaires were distributed to academics in all five Schools in the Faculty of Arts, as well as to the School Directors and the high return rate of 91% increase the validity of the study. The questionnaires explored and described how the academics, as well as the School Directors, perceived their leadership roles in team development. The findings from the questionnaires indicated that there were instances when the perception of School Directors differed from the perceptions of academics pertaining to the effectiveness of the team and the leadership style portrayed by School Directors. The analysis of the results from the questionnaires indicated that both transactional and transformational leadership styles were portrayed by School Directors, and that effective team development warranted a combination of these two leadership styles. Recommendations were made accordingly and a strategy proposed to enhance the role of School Directors in the development of academic teams.