Our work with faculty, using the CPI 260® assessment, shows us some of the unique shapes of academic leadership. We use the CPI assessment in much of our leadership-focused coaching with faculty, staff, and higher administration. The 260-question online assessment provides insight about how someone is likely to be viewed by neutral and objective others. It also compares an individual’s characteristics with successful leaders in business.
We have been impressed with this tool’s capacity to give useful feedback and worthwhile food for thought to faculty about their leadership strengths and weaknesses, even through a comparison to business leaders. However, our academia-based clients and the business world referenced by this assessment differ in several significant and interesting ways. This series of posts highlights the differences and peculiarities we have found to be most important in working with academics.
In this introductory post, we give a brief overview of how the CPI 260® works as a background to the academia-specific differences we describe in subsequent posts.
How It Works
The CPI 260® assessment reports on 26 separate measures including qualities such as empathy, dominance, capacity for status, amicability, sensitivity, flexibility, tolerance, and insightfulness.
Each of these scores ranges from 0 to 100 within a standardized normal distribution normed at 50. In the general population, 68% of scores (1 standard deviation) fall in the 40-60 range. 16% of scores are higher than 60, while the remaining 16% are lower than 40.
While the distribution in the general population is symmetric around the mean (50), successful business leader scores average higher than 50 on nearly all of these measures. (We’ll highlight a notable exception to this pattern in an upcoming post.)
Patterns in Academia
The first notable pattern: faculty are generally much more similar to business leaders than to the general population. This holds true whether or not they have held a formal academic leadership role. This makes sense to us. While faculty careers are not touted as leadership, many of the activities draw on and develop leadership skills. Consider the requirements of classrooms, labs, funding mechanisms, mentoring, committee-work, and disciplinary contributions.
There is a myth in academia that leadership=administration=the dark side. In truth, leadership is neither optional nor problematic for faculty. Leadership is the warp and weft of a career that is designed to move thought, knowledge, policy, practice, product, governance, commerce, peers, and students in directions that matter.