This series of posts describes what we’ve learned about the peculiarities of leadership in academia based on our work with the CPI 260® leadership assessment. See the introduction to this series for background on this assessment.
The last two posts in this series focused on faculty productivity. Today we’re looking at a related measure: Responsibility. Once again, the average score for faculty on this measure is significantly higher than the average executive norm group score.
The Responsibility measure is defined as being conscientious about taking one’s work seriously enough to get it done reliably. The interpretive report warns that higher scores on Responsibility may affect the way people view others. Individuals who score high on Responsibility may think harshly of others who do not perform at a similar level.
This result sheds light on a common stereotype related to faculty, as has been true with other CPI measures. The stereotypical scholar who thinks so highly of themselves that they look down on everyone around them. In its stereotyped form, this is pure ego in its most unwelcome form.
Expectations of Responsibility
The Responsibility measure casts a more realistic light on things, especially when combined with results related to Achievement via Independence and Achievement via Conformance. If I have a lot to get done, and I’ve figured out how to make use of myself to get as much of it done as I can, and I’ve also developed the skills to work within a system to move our collective endeavor forward, and I’m feeling both overwhelmed and in high demand, then of course I’m going to be frustrated when others (in reality or appearance) do less that what I need of them.
There’s lots to be said about how that frustration is expressed and navigated; there’s no justification for toxicity or abuse of power or role. But the frustration itself is valid and cannot be shamed away. It should be a point of pride that, at least on this particular assessment, faculty demonstrate higher levels of responsibility than their counterparts in the business world. It’s worth learning how that comes into being, and how to navigate both the demand and the expectations in a way that makes academia work.