Chapter 2: A Review of Literature

Enrollment management and leadership style are complicated topics. Together, they comprise a wide range of considerations for this review of literature.  The following discussion is therefore organized under headings corresponding to some subtopics associated with the goals for this research project.

A History Of Leadership Study

Man has long been cognizant about the benefits of strong leadership. As early as human beings have started forming groups, they have been compelled to follow other certain human beings to maximize benefits of cooperation. Early examinations of leadership can be found within the works of Plato, Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and others. Plato, for example, famously declared, “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” I early Greek philosophy, therefore, it can be stated that there is a component of identifying “wise men” or “empowered men” thereby separating humans into connotations of leaders and followers. Machiavelli (1992), in his classic treatise on leader, The Prince,  “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him” (p. 45).  This can be considered a foreshadow to what leadership theory would designate as being participative or delegate elements of good leadership. Sun Tzu (2017), reflecting elements that would now be considered reflective or emotional intelligence in the Newman (2008) spirit, suggested, “Know thy self, know they enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”  Additionally, this can be considered linked to situational leadership where the leader must understand their followers and adapt accordingly. The study of leadership in a specific academic capacity came much later than these early observations.

The actual academic study of leadership, however, spans only slightly over 100 years (McCleskey, 2014). One of the earliest studies on the subject can be attributed to Galton’s (1869) work called Hereditary Genius (McCleskey, 2014). As the title suggests, the work focuses on inherited traits as the primary mechanism for leadership development (McCleskey, 2014). Within this paradigm, it was largely viewed by the earlier leadership researcher that leaders were born. Now commonly referred to as, the great man theory, the early roots of leadership believed that is was talent and great men who were born to lead other men (McCleskey, 2014). This perspective endured well into the 20th Century and is still believed to varying degrees (McCleskey, 2014). It facilitated the movement to “discover” or “identity” leaders within organizations so their talents could be utilized. As leadership theory progressed, however, the great man theory has supplemented and even replaced (McCleskey, 2014). While leadership can be a characteristic of an extraordinary individual, it is not exclusively confined to such designations. This harkens back to the psychological debate as to the greater influencer on human behavior, nature or nurture. With leadership, as a realm of human behavior, both nature and nurture would appear to be at work in the construction of good and bad leaders.

By the 1940’s and into the 1950’s, leadership studies began on U.S. campuses. The Ohio State Leadership Studies followed by the Michigan Studies of Leadership sought o examine the variables of leadership and their respective structures (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2014). The Michigan work began to focus not so much on the traits of a good leader in which they are born, but how good leaders behaved (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2014). Building on this, the Michigan studies established that effective leaders have relationship oriented behavior, task oriented behavior and participative elements to their actions (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2014). More recent leadership models have focused on people and task focused leaders. How leaders can manage for change and the role of emotional intelligence is also a component of modern leadership theory (Newman, 2008). Diversity in leadership, is also a new factor that has emerged in the study of leadership in the 21st Century. With the 21st Century organizational environment being global and diversity now generally acknowledged as an organizational strength, how leaders impact such paradigms has been the focal point of many modern studies on the subject (Ancona et al., 2007). What has been considered efficacious for 20th Century organizations is not necessarily so for 21st Century organizations (Ancona et al., 2007). As a result, as McCrimmon (2010) highlighted, there is a near universal agreement among leadership theorists that autocratic and hierarchal modes of leadership are problematic. As will be explored in the review of literature, transformational and charismatic leadership are new genres that have entered the field and still undergoing to study for universal definitions (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013).

Explaining Leadership and Enrollment Management

 Among the many definitions/explanations of leadership, some are more inclusive and broad than others.  Those which try to be specific about leadership actually tend to reduce it.  For example one scholar describes leadership as an ability to convince and persuade other people to take action “on the basis of greater knowledge or competence, reasoned argument and fairness” (Rarick, 1987, qtd in Segun-Adeniran, 2015, p. 2). This definition for leadership attempts to be specific, but as a result it excludes important concepts.  Importantly, that definition says nothing about organizational goals and instead presents leadership as some sort of coaching by a person who wants to encourage others to work hard and be competent and reasonable. 

For the purpose of this literature review, it is more helpful to use a definition of leadership like the one presented by Ogbah (2013): the manner by which a leader executes tasks and motivates subordinates to accomplish organizational goals. This definition is consistent with the definition of ‘leadership’ by W.H.C. Prentice in his celebrated 1961 Harvard Business Review article: Leadership is achieving organizational goals by motivating human assistants.  This understanding is broad enough to encompass leadership.

Enrollment Management needs to have a similarly inclusive definition because it involves many dynamic processes, and it would be reduced by a more specific definition.  The enrollment management leader must be a person who can keep a careful balance of priorities – increasing revenue while maintaining high standards.  Enrollment management has been explained in several ways, one of which is as follows: “a set of activities designed to enable educational institutions to exert more influence over their student enrollments and total net tuition revenue” (Hossler, 2004, p. 65). This way of  thinking about the field is put forth in the context of what scholars view as a process whereby it is evolving and changing. In the past, it was a matter of gatekeeping but more recently it became a task better described as recruitment (Henderson, 2008), and now scholars have settled on definitions like this one, which are deliberately broad and inclusive in order to accommodate the multifaceted nature of the work involved.

Thus, leadership theory and enrollment management both must be studied with broadminded understanding, so that scholars will be able to appreciate all that is encompassed by both in combination with one another.   Robinson (2010) points out that some leaders are not managers and some managers are not leaders – clearly establishing that leadership is not simply a synonym for management.  Explanations of enrollment management are also like this; scholars help to elucidate the nature of enrollment management by contrasting it against common misconceptions about it.  Buster-Williams (2016) affirms that enrollment management is not a strategy for increase enrollment, nor is it just a structure within an organization or a marketing scheme. She further asserts that it is incorrect to believe enrollment management is an administrative matter separate from the mission of the school. Any of these labels listed by Buster-Williams would reduce it to something less complex and multidimensional than it really is.  A review of essays and research by authors cited here suggests that the enrollment manager must take a holistic strategic approach which considers many variables and organizational structures simultaneously. 

For example, one might consider the interplay between enrollment management and the financial aid office. McGhee (2015) writes about situations where the financial aid office has discretion to make decisions about funding which would benefit students – and in some cases must deny their requests.  From the perspective of the enollment management, “Such situations can result in senior-level administration perceiving the financial aid office as not being student centered and [. . .] not supporting the institution’s enrollment management goals” (McGhee, 2015, p. 56). The financial aid process plays a key role in determining enrollment outcomes, and it is one of many organizational structures considered by enrollment managers. 

Leadership and Management

Some deficiencies in leadership performance can be attributed to the propensity for people in positions of management to mistake management and leadership (Straker, 2010). Though often used interchangeably, this is incorrect as they have similarities but also noted differences. Managers are individuals in formal vested position of authority and they have subordinates (Straker, 2010). Subordinates follow managers because they are compelled to do so as their employment rests on following the manager’s directives. Management tends to have a more authoritative and transactional style of relationship with subordinates (Straker, 2010). Leaders, in contrast, need not be in a formal vested position of authority (Straker, 2010). Leaders are individuals of influence who have followers. Followers look to leaders for inspiration and direction and do so regardless of formal titles (Straker, 2010). As a result, leaders are generally more naturally transformational in terms of their interactions with followers (Straker, 2010). Under best case scenarios, managers in an organization are also leaders, however, this is not always the case (Straker, 2010). Leadership, rather than management, has been established by Ancona et al. (2007) as being the difference between success or failure of an organization. This is particularly true within the paradigm of change management (Straker, 2010). Black (2015), expressed that leadership in higher education necessitates a combination of leadership and managerial skills in order to reach peak efficacy.

Insights from those Currently Managing Enrollment

Several qualitative studies have been done to give voice to those people who are carefully helping to centralize enrollment management at their respective academic institutions. Barnes and Harris (2010) used a qualitative case study to glean insight from three public universities in the United States to examine the mechanisms which determine outcomes.  They sought to answer the question of how enrollment managers make decisions guided by the school’s strategy for becoming more prestigious and recruiting the highest quality students.  Their findings suggest that similar concepts are discussed by people from all three schools, and these include: the school’s interaction with with the state government, the school’s interest in a private enrollment model, and growing reliance on tuition contextualized enrollment decisions. It is possible that these three emerging themes can be a source of insight when exploring the relationship of leadership style to enrollment management outcomes. 

In a different qualitative study, Schulz and Lucido (2011) collected self-reported data from enrollment management professionals with 55 different organizations.  The study is limited by the fact that it consists only of subjective data; consistent with the authors’ intention to give voice to those administrators currently shaping the evolution of enrollment management, the study uses only subjective, self-reported data which leaves it susceptible to participant bias.  Telephone interviews were conducted, and the researchers used a semistructured interview focused on the structure of enrollment management and what it reveals about the priorities of the institution’s leadership.  In their presentation of findings, the authors note that participants often talked about enrollment management being increasingly important due to schools’ need for revenue.  More resources are diverted to Admissions in order to boost enrollment.  Yet, the authors also describe prevailing themes from the data which indicate resistance to centralization of enrollment management for various reasons. 

Enrollment management can be a sensitive or controversial aspect of higher education, so its leadership needs to consist of people who have the ability to be tactful.  In general, it is controversial for higher learning institutions to make marketing and recruiting a higher priority because there may be a trade-off where quality is lost.  Moreover, if administrators choose to give decision making power to an enrollment manager that power must be taken from the person who held it previously. One theme that emerged in the study by Schulz and Lucido (2011) was the way an empowered faculty might resist centralization of enrollment management.  When decisions are made by committees consisting of faculty members, they do not necessarily want to give up that authority and hand that decision-making over to one enrollment professional.  More generally, anyone with decision-making authority might be reluctant to let it go and this may be a reason why Schulz and Lucido noticed the centralizing of enrollment management was facilitated by other organizational changes, such as one person’s retirement which made it possible to give her/his decision-making power to an enrollment manager. 

Each qualitative inquiry into enrollment management has taken a different perspective.  In another qualitative study, researchers interested in professional development for admissions personnel who involved with enrollment management wanted to learn how people working in graduate level admissions think about enrollment management as a part of their work (Campbell & Smith, 2014). Examining the ideas voiced by these admissions professionals, the authors’ approach was guided by theory about professional socialization – a concept used to help stakeholders understand the way professionals acquire and internalize the information, competencies, values, norms, and attitudes of their professions.  Similar to the work of Schulz and Lucido (2011) a few years prior, Campbell and Smith used semistructured telephone interviews.  In both studies, the authors acknowledge that their findings only reflect the truth as perceived and expressed by participants from their subjective and possibly biased vantage points.  It should be added that the way researchers’ asked their questions also heavily influences the responses.  While Schulz and Lucido (2011) sought insight about the centralization and increasing importance of enrollment management, Campbell and Smith were more interested in learning how individuals perceive their own professional roles in the context of that process.  Campbell and Smith discovered that the emergent themes in responses indicated a balance of three concerns: priming (how they became interested in admissions) gate keeping vs. recruiting (ensuring quality of students while also reaching enrollment goals), and promise keeping (upholding responsibilities to enroll diverse students, or to live up to other expectations). A juxtaposition of these two studies leads to better understanding of the awkward, trial-and-error process by which enrollment management is being moved to the forefront of American higher education.

Trait Theory and Style Theory

The importance of leadership to any organization is of sufficient enough consequence for virtually volumes of material to have been drafted on the subject. According to Malos (2011), “A person does not become a leader by virtue of the possession of some combination of traits” (p. 220). No traits can be stated to be universally associated with effective leadership and situational factors are also influential (Malos, 2011). Furthermore, single leadership styles are not always conducive to all situations (Ancona, et al., 2007; Newman, 2008). For example, in times of crisis where time is of the essence for decision making, using a participative leadership methodology would be too slow for peak efficacy. Instead, a more authoritative approach during these situations would be key for making quick decision. This type of situation, however, would largely be contingent on the talents of the leader in that particular situation. If the leader would make a quick but bad decision, the consequences would be felt within the entire organization. Organizations and researchers, therefore, have placed a great deal of emphasis on traits of a strong leader.

Trait leadership explorations often begin with the question of whether or not leaders are born or made. According to Newman (2008), however, the answer is both. The single most predictable element of whether or not a person will be a good leader is emotional intelligence (EQ) (Newman, 2008). Unlike Intelligence Quotients (IQ) or traditional measures of intelligence, EQ can be developed and improved upon throughout one’s life (Newman, 2008). As a result, a person can be innately bestowed high EQ or they can develop EQ through experience (Newman, 2008). The salient traits of EQ include: self management (self control/self confidence, self reliance) , self awareness (self knowing/straightforwardness), social awareness (Empathy), adaptability (optimism/self actualization) and social skills (relationship skills). Trait leadership, in addition, also focuses on personality and still keeps a great deal of favor in that it is orderly for study (Epstein, 2002). Zaccoro (2007) expressed that “combinations of traits and attributes, integrated in conceptually meaningful ways, are more likely to predict leadership than additive or independent contributions of several single traits” (p. 6). Even within personality, there are no singular personality types that are universally associated with strong leadership. Leaders can come from a variety of personality types (Newman, 2008).

Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is best characterized as having a flexible leadership style that can change depending on the situation. Developed by Blanchard and Hersey in the 1980’s, this methodology also emphasizes the need to understand the followers in which the leader is attempting to influence (Blanchard & Hersey, 1985). The inability to understand different audiences is often the mechanism for explaining why a leader in one organization could have been successful and when placed into another organization, they failed. Situational leadership necessitates that the leader and follower have to diagnose competence and commitment both individually and then together (Thompson & Glaso, 2015). This differs from servant leadership, however, where the leader identifies the needs of the followers and provides it to them to foster collaboration. In a situational context, a leader that naturally gravitates toward authoritarian leadership would have trouble engaging followers in a group that is more used to collaboration. Similarly, a collaborative leader may have trouble engaging a group that is more inclined to favor transactional leadership relationships. Rather than a vacuum, leadership engages or does not engage within given organizational cultures (Fiedler & Macaulay, 1998).

As a result, it is important to “not only focus on the leaders  personal attributes and abilities but also on how well the immediate work environment enables the leader to function effectively” (Fiedler & Macaulay, 1998, p. 335). Additionally, when certain types of situations arise, effective leaders have to know which style is most efficacious. For example, during a time of crisis where much discontent exists around staff culture, using an authoritative methodology would probably not be as advantageous as using a collaborative style to engage the followers. Similarly, in a time of crisis where time is of the essence for decision making, an authoritative approach would be superior than the more time consuming collaborative or participative methodology. The biggest issues with situational leadership is that it relies heavily on the skills of the individual leader (Thompson & Glaso, 2015). The leaders have to recognize changing attitudes and situations, identify which leadership model would be best suited and then put that method into action. Even some good leaders would have trouble navigating this complex landscape. According to Graeff (2007), situational leadership requires telling, selling, participation and delegation. Since other leadership base types can also have situational components, situational leadership is complimentary to other trait based style designations. In this capacity, a transformational leader could also be a situational leader.

Transactional Leadership

Many leadership studies focus on comparing transactional and transformational leadership due to the fact that they are nearly opposites of one another. According to Straker (2008), transactional relationships are more akin to how managers work with subordinates rather than how leaders inspire followers. The authority, in a transactional relationship, is based on the leader saying to do a certain thing a certain way and you will get a subsequent reward. The reward is most likely continued employment and a paycheck in a traditional organizational paradigm. While common, the success or failure of transactional leadership largely falls on the talents of the leader and the decisions in which they make. In addition, the type of loyalty and vision inspired by transformational leadership is not part of the equation. If the “reward” portion of the transaction was removed, the relationship between the leader and follower is dissolved within the transactional model. In many situations, transactional leadership is used by managers within an organization with the leaders being above the managers and operating in a more transformational capacity. Transactional models are often relegated to day to day operation.

As Breevart et al. (2014) illustrated, leader’s daily behavior influence followers’ daily work engagement and leaders’ daily behavior also shapes the daily work environment. When this stays only transactional, research has shown that less favorable work environments manifest (Breevart et al., 2014). In contrast, transformational environments where more support and autonomy are present manifest more favorable work environments (Breevart et al., 2014). There are benefits to transactional leadership. In this capacity, Dumdum et al. (2013) illustrated that there are significant arguments that laud the consistency of transactional leadership when compared to transformational leadership that has greater variance in performance outcomes. While this may or may not be true, it does not indicate superiority of one over the other as transformational leadership, even if it is established to have greater performance variance, has been successful in performance outcome measurements ranging from church growth to performance of platoons (Dumdum et al., 2013).

As Breevart, et al. (2014) established, however, the more favorable work environment perspective is firmly entrenched within the transformational paradigm. Judge and Piccolo (2004) sought to analyze the validity of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership. According to the researchers, there were some criteria for which contingent reward has a stronger relationship to performance than transformational leadership (Judge & Piccolo, 2004). In the same study, findings suggested that transformational and contingent reward leadership generally predicted criteria controlling for other leadership dimensions (Judge & Piccolo, 2004). Transformational leadership, however, was not a predictor of job performance (Judge & Picoolo, 2004). It can also be stated that even amongst other types of leadership paradigms, there still will be some degree of transactional component, particularly within the spectrum of day to day operational modalities. Even the most grandiose of visions still necessitates some degree of day to day operational drudgery.

Transformational Leadership

 While some statistics related to the efficacy and performance value of transformational leadership were established in the previous exploration of transactional leadership, the actual elements related to transformational leadership have yet to be illustrated. Transformational and charismatic leadership are often terms that are used interchangeably. They represent what Avolio and Yammarino (2013) established as being a new leadership genre. As such, there are many different definitions and understandings of the terms (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013). With such variation, this makes definitive study of its efficacy difficult. Though the previously cited research made some determinations of strengths and weaknesses regarding transformational leadership, the lack of uniformity in its designations are such that these different studies could have been looking at a different leadership values and labeling them the same thing. Study of transformational leadership efficacy, therefore, requires analysis of research studies within the spectrum of how they define transformational or charismatic leadership.

 Avolio and Yammarino (2013) establish the transformational leader as being “individually considerate, intellectually stimulating, inspirationally motivational, visionary and of high ethical standards” (p. xxvii). In regards to their relationship with their followers, the authors continued, “Transformational and charismatic leadership involve a unique bonding among leaders and followers – emotional attachment, respect and trust from the basis of these approaches”  (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013, p. xxvii). Transformational and charismatic leaders, therefore, extend beyond the common place “transactions” that are most readily seen in management style relationships with subordinates. Transformationally leadership represents something more and it forges a bond. The bond is such that if the constructs of the “reward” were removed, the follower would still likely continue to follow the leader or at least continue to respect and be influenced by them. This phenomenon is not something that happens in transactions. It also may not happen in servant leadership models where it could be argued that if the needs of the worker were not longer being met by the leader, they would seek out a new leader who filled their desires, which may or may not be congruent with organization vision or goals.

Spahr (2015) established some characteristics of transformational leadership as being well organized, inspiring followers to be creative, team oriented, respected, acting as a coach, instills team responsibility and is respected through rapport and personal influence. The rapport element is consistent with the Avolio and Yammarino (2013) contexts of charisma. While there are many complimentary elements in the Spahr (2015) definition and the Avolio and Yammarino (2013) definition, they are not identical thereby illustrating some of the problems with identifying and studying the transformational leader paradigm. More variation within the transformational leadership paradigm can be seen through expressions and opinions as to whom is actually a transformational leader. Looking to historical examples is telling for this endeavor.

 With the spectrum of transformational leadership established somewhat, designating who would fit the parameters of a transformational leader is necessary but perhaps controversial. Some names that frequently emerge within transformational leadership study include but are not limited to Alexander the Great, Fidel Castro, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Geronimo, Steve Jobs, Adolf Hitler, Ray Kroc and Nelson Mandela. All of these leaders were visionary, highly charismatic and successful in inspiring people to follow their vision. In the work of Avolio and Yammarino (2013), they put an ethical standard element within the transformational leader paradigm. If this were accepted, this would obviously bring into question transformational leadership examples like Castro and Hitler. Other leadership theorists, look at leadership as being ethically neutral in that a good leader or successful leader can inspire or influence people in any direction, good or bad. This could further be reinforced by the perceptual variation and lack of universal agreement on what constitutes good and bad behavior and justification of action. In total, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to transformational leadership.

According to Spahr (2015), transformational leadership works the best when change is needed. It is generally not the best fit for new organizations where no structure exists (Spahr, 2015). Some of the pros related to transformational leadership are that such leaders are excellent at communicating new ideas, they are good at balancing short term vision with long term goals, they build strong coalitions with mutual trust and they have high emotional intelligence with others (Spahr, 2015). In contrast, some of the problems with transformational leadership are as follows: ineffective initial stage preparation, they require an existing structure to fix and they are bad fits for bureaucratic structures (Spahr, 2015). While a great deal of attention in modern literature and popular culture lauds transformational leaders, research demonstrates that it is not always appropriate or advantageous for every situation that requires leadership. In this capacity, a transformational leader is not always the answer to an organization’s needs.

Servant Leadership

 Servant leadership is viewed as an alternative to traditional top down leadership structures. It believes that leaders should be serving their workers thereby establishing a shared power paradigm. Through this, organizations become stronger and more unified with the team as the basic unit. With the team having been described as the basic unit of operation for successful 21st Century organizations, the servant leadership model is theoretically sound (Ancona, et al. 2007).  It is classified by Reynolds (2016) as a non hierarchical participative approach to defining organizational objectives. Research has illustrated some positive attributes to this particular approach. For example, Liden et al. (2014) found that in restaurants, serving culture was positively correlated with job performance, creativity and customer service behavior and negatively associated with turnover intentions. Additionally, Parris and Peachey (2013) found that servant leadership is linked to ethics, virtues and morality. As a result, this means that it theoretically could overcome some of the problems related to transformational leadership, which has been used to transform organizations into something the opposite of serving society and altruistic aims. Parris and Peachey (2013) also concluded that service leadership improves the well being of followers and it can be applied and measured in a quantifiable capacity.

While some have challenged the ability to measure servant leadership, others have challenged the degree to which it promotes creativity and innovation (Parris & Peachey, 2013; Yoshida et al., 2014). While Liden et al.’s (2014) found positive innovation correlations, so did the work of Yoshida et al. (2014). According to Yoshida et al. (2014), servant leadership fosters employee creativity and team innovation. Servant leadership, though popular in many circles of leadership theory and application, is not universally viewed as being realistic or even favorable in practice. According to McCrimmon (2010), servant leadership is a good idea in theory, but it rests on some false pretenses. Harkening to John F. Kennedy’s notion of asking not what one’s country can do for you, and instead asking what one can do for the country, servant leadership establishes the opposite relationship (McCrimmon, 2010). In a servant model, the followers will flourish in a culture that is only meeting their needs. There is not guarantee that these needs are congruent to the needs of the organization or the clients of the organization (McCrimmon, 2010). Servant leadership only goes so far in an organizational level. Structure is what keeps the organization moving forward and from descending into anarchy. Though servant leaders can attempt to serve, it is still their responsibility to fire employees who do not perform (McCrimmon, 2010). The relationship does not work the other way.

Servant leadership is a response to replacing the traditional autocratic and hierarchal modes of leadership (McCrimmon, 2010). It is well known in the 21st Century that these modalities are not consistent with high performance (Ancona et al., 2007). While there is such a need, servant leadership is not the only way to achieve this end and in fact, it can be considered to be the extreme opposite of the others. Extremes, in general, are not the best ways to approach most matters. A leader that only serves his followers puts the organization or the vision as secondary manifestations. This can lead a group in many confusing directions that stray from the goals. Leaders are meant to inspire, organization and drive in a common direction. Serving is oppositional to leadership and carries with it the potential to undermine the entire purpose of having good leadership in place. There are positive elements of servant leadership, but there are major theoretical flaws in its adaption and potential for disaster if embraced entirely in its purest forms. The connects made by servant leaders through their empathy and commitment to followers does shared some qualities with the positive attributes of transformational leaders.

Technical Skill and Capability

An aspect of leadership which should be considered with attention to the unique nature of enrollment management is the leader’s technical skill and capabilities.  Even the best possible leadership style will not lead to success if the enrollment manager does not have the skills necessary for complicated planning and strategy formulation, as well as communicating with other stakeholders effectively (Buster-Williams, 2016). This explanation leads one naturally in the direction of considering leadership theory focusing on the practical concern about achieving specific tasks.  Robinson (2010) explains leadership style as the manner in which someone goes about trying to influence other people, and he distinguishes “task orientation” from “relationship orientation” as the main ingredients for a leadership style. This way of thinking about leadership style is helpful for this literature review focusing on leadership in enrollment management, because it ensures that both tasks and style will be given attention for a thorough understanding of the concepts discussed in this research. 

One of the most widely used task-oriented leadership theories is Situational Leadership (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977/2005). This approach suggests that no single style of leadership is better than the others because leadership must be adjusted according to the tasks at hand.  For the purpose of the present study, however, it is interesting to note that Hersey and Blanchard’s findings do support the idea of identifying specific leadership styles which may be more effective for specific sets of tasks, such as those involved with enrollment management. These include: excellence in planning, which involves marketing and retention planning, international enrollment planning, strategic planning, diversity planning, and financial affairs (Buster-Williams, 2016). Applying Hersey and Blanchard’s task-oriented approach, one must only consider these tasks and the level of ‘maturity’ of those followers whom the enrollment management leader needs to motivate.

  1. Followers have neither the necessary skills to work toward organizational goals note the willingness to do so.   
  2. Followers are not yet capable, but they are trying to learn how to do what is required.
  3. Followers have become capable, but they are not yet willing to accept responsibility for doing what is required.
  4. Followers have experience, and they are ready to take responsibility for doing what is required. (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977)

It is easy to see that this approach to leadership which is known for being task-oriented is also oriented to the followers.  In fact, the careful attention to making sure followers can perform the necessary tasks makes this an educational approach to leadership and the leader becomes like a mentor.  This educational/instructive approach to leadership seems particularly appropriate for consideration in research about leadership within an academic institution.  The way capability and motivation are intertwined in Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership calls to mind the concept of self-efficacy from Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1997) where learners must be shown that they are able to do a task before they can become able to do it.

Optimism in Enrollment Management Leadership

Some scholars writing about enrollment management emphasize the importance of a positive attitude, and the prominence of this concept in research literature has implications for decisions about the type of leadership to be used. It is important for enrollment managers to “keep strong and carry on, always maintaining the most positive outlook possible” (Buster-Williams, 2016, p.71). Optimism in leadership is considered to be a desired trait insomuch as pessimism is generally not associated with anything positive in terms of organizational performance. In this capacity, authentic leadership, as expressed through a leader using their own traits and capabilities symmetrically with their personal value system, is a source of optimism (Stander, De Beer & Stander, 2015; Klophas et al., 2017).

Authentic leaders, therefore, perpetuate optimism and in turn help facilitate trust and work engagement among staff (Stander, De Beer & Stander, 2015). Since work engagement is positively associated with performance, workers recruiting that are engaged will have better enrollment numbers than those who are not engaged. Authentic leadership can be found in all of the expressed leadership types as it is not designated by a singular style. According to Buster-Williams (2016), optimism is a central feature in enrollment management efficacy, however, optimism in itself does not eclipse the need to properly plan and management enrollment activities. The author expressed, “Enrollment managers must excel at enrollment planning” (p. 71).

21st Century Leadership

Organizations in the 21st Century have different needs than they did in the 20th Century. As a result, the attributes of leadership and organizational efficiency are different in the age of globalization (Ancona, et al., 2008). 21st Century organizations are characterized by flattened tiers of management, 360 degree communication, flexibility, the team as the basic unit and a global perspective (Ancona, et al., 2008). The 20th Century, in contrast, features organizations with multi-leveled management, top down communication, rigid structures, the individual as the basic unit and a localized perspective (Ancona, et al., 2008). Leaders in the 20th Century model were largely authoritative. According to Black (2015), the command and control methodologies for modern organizations are ill equipped to meet the needs of enrollment and beyond. In addition, authoritative leadership had the least link to staff satisfaction with employment in higher education (Black, 2015). The leadership paradigm in higher education can be considered to have a domino effect. The way in which leadership looks at the top of the organization is reflected in the values and culture of all departments. As a result, enrollment leadership is a reflection of the overall leadership values and perspective of the entire institution. They are not exclusive.

Looking at the leadership dimensions in a systems capacity, Alonderine and Majauskaite (2016) found that empirical research suggests leadership style has a significant impact on job satisfaction. Of the different styles analyzed, it was servant leadership that had the most effect on job satisfaction and autocratic leadership had the lowest (Alonderine & Majauskaite, 2016). Alone, this does not mean that servant leadership is the best for enrollment, however, it does seem to be best for having an overall positive impact on an organization’s culture. Organizational culture is linked to performance on all levels of an organization (Ancona et al., 2007). As a result, it can be concluded that servant leadership would have positive implications on enrollment efficacy at least indirectly and potentially directly. The study does not reflect a direct impact however alone. Leadership development and satisfaction among staff, however, increased retention (Black, 2015). Retention, in turn, has had positive correlation with enrollment. According to Dennis (2016), retaining students from the first to second year of college not only helped enrollment, it also was equally as important as enrollment. Overall, in 21st Century organiations, leadership style affects employee performance, productivity and it reduces attrition (Nanjueswaraswamy & Swamy, 2014). Management structure, additionally, was linked by Hope (2017) to supporting recruitment and retention goals.

Enrollment Management

Leaders in enrollment that can manage frameworks have been correlated with enrollment success (Choudaha et al., 2014). Enrollment is something that does not happen in vacuum. According to Cooper (2015) there is a positive relationship between structure and motivation, structure and management practices and structure and task requirements. These conclusions were reached as a result of data collected from 121 higher education institutions. Management practices and motivation, however, had not direct relationship (Cooper, 2015). As the other literature has suggested, however, leadership does impact staff motivation. Leadership efficacy in higher education necessitates the aforementioned elements of leadership qualities and managerial skills. The work of Cooper (2015) therefore supports the systems capacity of the way in which leadership and management impacts enrollment and overall performance of higher education in general.

Diversity Characteristics in Leadership

Within the realms of organizational science, the issue of diversity is currently a popular buzzword. The benefits of diversity in a global world have been well documented and just as frequently misunderstood. For higher education leadership, the role in which diversity plays in the process has also been study and necessitates examination. Wolfe and Dilworth (2015) demonstrated that African American leadership is low in predominately White institutions even in the new 21st Century diversity perspective. The authors found that conceptualization and inclusion of minority experiences shapes recruitment, retention and assessment of minority representation at universities (Wolfe & Dilworth, 2015). As a result, it can be stated that traits and perspectives that are unique to minority leaders in higher education positively correlate with attracting more minorities and retaining minorities in higher education (Wolfe & Dilworth, 2015). Whether or not diversity in leadership leads to higher enrollment and retention among non minority students was not established by Wolfe and Dilworth (2015).

Similar studies to the Wolfe and Dilworth diversity leadership in higher education were conducted by Dunn et al. (2014) and Cook and Glass (2014) in regards to gender. Most scholarly research in general on leadership has been male centric (Dunn et al., 2014). Male behaviors and characteristics in leadership roles are generally the standard on which women leaders are accessed (Dunn et al., 2014). Cognition of this dynamic was found by Dunn et al. (2014) to be positively correlated to the degree to which women were successful in leadership positions at institutions of higher learning. Assertiveness, traditionally, is considered to be a male trait (Cook & Glass, 2014). The assertiveness and directive elements that were associated with 20th Century organizations, as previously expressed, are not in favor in 21st Century organizational efficacy (Ancona et al., 2007). As a result, it can be stated that more traditionally feminine qualities, like caring and collaboration, are more positively associated with 21st century landscapes. In an examination of 500 companies over a 20 year period, however, did not find any correlation between gender leadership and firm performance (Cook & Glass, 2014). As a result, gender is not an indicator of leadership success or lack thereof. 

Charismatic Traits in Leadership Performance

When individuals think of good leaders, there is a propensity for larger than life and charismatic images to come to mind. As a result, Bastedo, Samuels and Kleinman (2014) sought to examine the role in which charismatic leaders in college positively impact the way in which individuals perceive the school. As a measurement, the researchers used the number of applicants and alumni donations in schools with charismatic presidents and those without. Overall, the value of charismatic leaderships to any organization lack consistent evidence (Bastedo, Samuels & Kleinman, 2014). For higher education, using the afore expressed measurements, there is a different paradigm. Among the colleges surveyed, but more so among religious colleges, there is a positive relationship between presidents’ charismatic leadership and the number of applications for enrollment and the amount of financial donations colleges receive (Bastedo, Samuels & Kleinman, 2014). Charismatic leadership, therefore, can be expressed as a meaningful signal of organizational performance for colleges (Bastedo, Samuels & Kleinman, 2014). Prioritization of resources, which was established by Choudaha et al. (2014) as being key for attracting students in the complex landscape of 21st Century higher education, should seek leaders who are charismatic. The way in which charisma interacts with planning skills would necessitate future research. As expressed in the literature reviewed, Buster-Williams (2016) concluded that planning is necessary for enrollment management success and charisma is not necessarily an indicator of good planning skills. Both planning skills and charisma have been determined to have a positive impact on enrollment numbers (Bastedo, Samuels & Kleinman, 2014; Buster Williams, 2016). Whether or not one has a greater impact than the other would necessitate future research. At the present time, however, it can be established that a leader with both charisma and enrollment planning skills would have superior enrollment efficacy to a leader without planning skills or charisma.


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