Doesn’t the 500-word count really limit clarity? So much prior knowledge has to be assumed when composing our parsimonious texts. For example, I don’t know the difference in Canada between a college and a university. This difference (in scale, prestige, organisation, etc.) informs your writing, but I’m left in the dark to some degree. When I did my Master’s in London Uni, a college was a unit of a university. (I was at King’s College.) In Japan, a college can be either specialist technical school or a two-year institution. In neither case are there credit transfer systems that allow student movement between non-affiliated institutions. I’m not criticising your writing at all; just pointing out that the same terms we use often have very different propositional and structural meanings.
Here I’d like to investigate your assertion that “If leadership depends on context, then overcoming challenges may reside in the realm of emotional intelligence,” (Yee, 2016). Parrish (2015) studied the role of emotional intelligence (EI) in higher education leadership and created a leadership competency framework (LCF) which synthesised studies in leadership behaviour, leadership effective practices and exemplary leadership practices (which drew upon the works of Bryman, Picinnin and Kouzes & Posner, citations in Parrish). Parrish identified five aspects which comprised her LCF. An educational leader needs:
- A clear vision, strategy and direction
- An ability in fostering collaborative work environment
- Integrity, credibility, to be trustworthy, empathetic and a role model
- To communicate developments and accurate feedback
- To proactively, with sensitivity and respect, promote in-group interests in/externally
Allied to these abilities, Parrish distinguished various aspects of EI that comprise a skillset necessary for effective educational leadership, including; the ability to recognise EI in self and others and to use this knowledge as an evidence base that informs decision-making, being able to express emotions appropriately and to judge the importance of emotions in others, self-control, social skills, adaptability and flexibility.
Taken together, an individual who can embody these characteristics will be better placed to take decisions. For example, a strong vision that promotes a unit’s interests is likely to have support from that unit. Also, in inter-unit dialogue, the ability to recognise the potentially destructive emotions held by other units can be useful in pre-empting disputes and can inform strategizing. Many more examples could be found easily. A strong claim, therefore, can be made about EI in educational leadership contexts.
Before Parrish’s (2015) claim can be accepted, however, a critical evaluation of the assumptions in the model needs to be conducted. I won’t assess the validity of the research design. (It is questionable on the grounds of being a theory-generating 11-person study.) But a look at the underlying assumptions of the model is necessary. Three base assumptions underpin Parrish’s model:
- That structural weaknesses can be addressed through dialogue
- That there are similar cultures between different units
- That the educational leader has access to all stakeholders
Assumption 1 identifies the scope of EI in leadership. In structural violence theory, it is recognised that the very structures in a society can result in inequities that go beyond the scope of any individual. For example, when teachers are forced to comply with national policies on textbook use, their own voice is diminished and their import in the classroom weakened, a position that reduces the self-worth of many teachers (Edling, 2015). For such differences to be reconciled within a multi-unit institution, similar beliefs, attitudes and values need to be present (Assumption 2). However, this case shows the implausibility of all educational leaders having access to all stakeholders (Assumption 3). These three assumptions, all to briefly outlined here, speak to a more complex set of contingencies than can be addressed by EI theory. Space forbids a fuller explication of the ideas, but we can recognise that EI is important in educational leadership. However, recognising its scope limitations is also necessary.
How would EI be applicable in your college’s situation?
Edling, S. (2015). Between curriculum complexity and stereotypes: exploring stereotypes of teachers and education in media as a question of structural violence. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47(3), 399–415. http://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2014.956796
Parrish, D. R. (2015). The relevance of emotional intelligence for leadership in a higher education context. Studies in Higher Education, 40(5), 821–837. http://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2013.842225
Yee, J. (2016). Re: Week 9 Discussion [Online discussion post]. Retrieved from https://my.ohecampus.com/lens/home?locale=en_us#