CEO Huub Dekkers on how to become a great university
And how Hawassa University Ethiopia is achieving this
Good leadership can make or break education. During my visit to Hawassa university in Ethiopia to provide 17 university leaders with a leadership program, the importance of good leadership once again became crystal clear.
The key to success
We discussed how hierarchy clashes with innovation. Hierarchy makes employees scared to make mistakes, it makes people point fingers and neglect their own responsibilities. Also it makes projects dependent on the capacity of a few people instead of a team. It results in an unsafe work environment where employees will choose to benefit their own interest over that of the company and their co-workers. In the end, this creates an environment that easily stagnates in results. To move from being a good university to becoming a great university, one must acknowledge that the key is in inspirational leadership. Embrace the diversity in your workforce, look for the critical opinions, and stimulate an environment that fosters innovation and creativity. We as leaders of education must not forget that lifelong learning applies to everyone, even ourselves.
Theory into practice
It was admiring to experience a group that, even though highly academically trained, are still open to learn more. That is a mind-set that many leaders forget along the way. When the Netherlands decided to lose their hierarchical structures, the country made great leaps in the quality of their education system and is now considered one of the best in the world. Ethiopia is going through a similar process, one in which meta leaps are being taken as we speak. This is because of these leaders. It is an honour to be part of such an inspiring historic effort. Immediately after the training program we could see great results coming to fruition. For example, a problem in Ethiopia is over-academization and high unemployment rates. To tackle these issues, the leaders immediately suggested to start engaging and researching the labour market to match their supply to the demand of society. To me, making the decision to involve these opinions, is good leadership.
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