Leading Upward

Academic Leader

When most people think of leadership, their mental image is of a process that is directed downward through an organization. In other words, the leader leads and the followers follow. There’s a chain of command, a hierarchy, a pecking order, and a food chain, with the person in charge at the top of the structure (or some substructure) and his or her influence radiating to the various bureaucratic levels underneath. Even though the leader may adopt alternative strategies to a military or corporate command-based style of leadership--for example, pursuing servant leadership, transformational leadership, leadership by example, goal-oriented leadership, and/or some other nonautocratic approach--the lines of authority still only move in one direction: from a higher to a lower echelon.

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