Most faculty become leaders of their department based on encouragement, persuasion and, sometimes, coercion. Usually, the position of head or chair of a department is not an intentional, strategic trajectory plan and many who take on these positions do not have any specific training to do such. What our department heads have in the College of Education are managerial abilities and leadership willingness. They realize that they must do the operational work, but have to take at least 20 percent of their time to lead their departments in the strategic directions as outlined in their departmental plans that adhere to the College's plan. This aspirational work in addition to teaching, budget responsibilities, student affairs and personnel well-being can become overwhelming.
In order to remedy some of these concerns, the leadership team has been reading and discussing various books that will enhance our leadership skills. Our hope is that these additional skills will help balance the myriad responsibilities of leading a department. This book, which we read for our summer retreat, focuses on building a collegial department. It provided copious definitions from other institutions that viewed civility and collegiality as part of the tenure and promotion of faculty. The book also discussed the legal precedent of not being tenured due to evidence of incivility as defined by tenure documents. Collegiality is operationally defined as cooperative interactions among colleagues, collective responsibility shared by each member of a group of colleagues and willingness to agree to disagree in order to enhance productive dissent. Besides defining collegiality, the authors also provided strategies to enhance civility and collegiality in the workplace.
Some of the strategies included:
- Set ground rules at the point of hire pertaining to collegiality,
- Make sure tenure and promotion documents define the term and how it is evaluated,
- Engage faculty in workplace social activities to engender collegiality,
- Do not mistake introversion as non-collegial,
- Create processes for conflict resolution.
The chapters provided examples, cases and testimonials about the effectiveness of the many strategies that are showcased throughout the book.