Planning and visionary leadership quandary: A real issue of our universities?


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Planning and visionary leadership quandary: A real issue of our universities?
Dr. Muhammad Sarwar, TI
OSU Distinguished Alumnus
Distinguished National Professor
Institute of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

Published in: Education, Business
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Planning and visionary leadership quandary: A real issue of our universities?

  1. 1. Planning and visionary leadership quandary: A real issue of our universities? Dr. Muhammad Sarwar, TI OSU Distinguished Alumnus Distinguished National Professor Institute of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology University of Agriculture, Faisalabad The significance of planning in any sphere of life needs no emphasis. The institutes with a clear vision and well defined work plan touch excellence and leave little chance of failure. Thus, a doable planning program is of utmost importance for institutes to survive in this competitive world. The purpose of good planning is to chalk out goals and set out a defined roadmap to materialize them. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analyses of an institute can help assess its current situation and provide a base for developing
  2. 2. a roadmap for its future workability. Meaningful strategic planning is a key to the success of any public sector university. The routine workability loop of any public sector university needs to be short- circuited and energized to solve problems and create new visions. Otherwise “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result”. An actionable model can spark creativity, ignite understanding and engage on strategic challenges. Data- driven speeches are not only self-deceptive but also shroud ground realities. The illusive speeches can allure high-ups but hardly create any impact. One does not know when education system of our country will be free from this lip service performance. Because lip service is purposeless and only innovative insights can transform today for our better tomorrow. This could be achieved through right decision power coupled with purpose and putting ideas to work immediately. Persons with a vision can foresee challenges and can provide leadership to plan and develop strategies to handle them. Institutes lose their worth and become victim of inertia in the absence of such dynamic leaderships. When leadership is alive and alert to the role of planning it makes nation’s destiny otherwise the time, a cruel entity, determines chances of its survival. Most of our public sector educational and research institutions are operating at the mercy of time and thus lag behind in education and research in the comity of nations. Many Vice Chancellors (VCs) advocate the essentiality of international exposure to solve indigenous issues but forget that if not all, majority’s solutions lie internally. A workable roadmap can unlock them provided there is will. Unless VCs, Deans, Directors, Chairmen, Registrars and treasurers learn essentials of strategic planning, the real success cannot be attained. Real success is based on truthful and right claims and is free from false ranking/numbering, concocted stories. Thus, the strategic planning in a university is an index of leadership capacity and integrity. The real job of a visionary leadership is to identify key deliverables that are essential to put an organization into gear and on progress mode, ensuring its successful survival. A strategic planning means listing short-term deliverables and activities and aligning short-term objectives with long- term goals with a focus on challenges likely to be faced in days to come. Technical challenges are intricate and hard and are solved using skills applied to well-defined issues. Adaptive challenges are not only untidy and open-ended but are poorly defined and could be resolved through visionary approach. The progressive and forward looking leadership paves the way to achieve goals under any situation and keeps universities operating smoothly and steadily. Such leadership sparks a vibrant thinking, transforming university from its current status toward future without any obstruction. This is expected from a proactive visionary leadership and institutes under such leadership are destined to thrive, prosper and flourish. This warrants that a good leader responsible for strategic planning possesses a solid foundation in planning process and such foundation helps universities achieve targets and attains desired goals in a given time frame. A visionary leadership can differentiate between strategic planning from tactical planning. He/she should be capable enough to develop a strategic intent and to isolate core competencies of his/her organization.
  3. 3. Leadership of an institution develops and designs strategic planning and crafts compelling methodologies and makes critical decisions, helping achieve enhanced productivity and creating an impact on civil society. Leaders solve right problems. Thus, importance of vibrant leadership is of utmost significance in educational institutes, especially universities, where coming generations will be educated to shape nation’s future. Serious thinking can create intense engagement and encourage diverse and unique viewpoints which help define purpose, engage multiple perspectives to frame issues and deliver a complex message in a clear way. This leads to a powerful shared vision, strategic plan coupled with a pragmatic execution program and help develop a bonding experience among all involved. A wise and visionary leader carefully deals his/her colleagues who lead to develop a relationship between him/her and colleagues similar to a family member. Considerate and affectionate treatment with anybody will not only make him/her willing worker but will also develop loyalty and trusting relationship. A leader’s noble and accommodating attitude costs nothing but wins hearts of colleagues who start discharging their duties in the absence of any fear/intimidation. Innumerable intimations are being practiced in few universities to unnecessarily hegemonize faculty; for example a few of them include inquiries under PEDA, fear of removal from service, explanations, stopping annual increments, adverse entry in ACRs, using Department Chairmen, Institute Directors and Faculty Deans against faculty, maligning faculty by misusing different universities committees specially constituted by VCs, warnings, censures, cancellation of houses, transfers and many others. The VCs are role model for faculty and students. Is it not really unfortunate on their part who are using unworthy tactics to suffocate truthfulness, righteousness and self-respect concepts among university faculty? Perhaps, they are forgetting universities sanctity wherein truthfulness, righteousness and self-respect are not only being taught but also propagated and advocated. Alas! VCs are becoming trouble and restlessness creators instead of torch bearers against such vices. Is it not an intense pondering point for all of us? Where are we heading? Is it worthwhile for future generations? Can future generations be educated to meet modern world’s emerging challenges? How long it will take us to get rid of such pathetic state of affairs? I am unable to understand why VCs (a few) are bent upon creating worrisome, troublesome and fearful atmosphere in universities, helping teaching and nonteaching faculty to develop indifferent attitude. This kind of environment is not only responsible to create inertia in academic institutes but also make faculty nonproductive. Unless the administration wakes up and takes stern action against such VCs immediately, national educational institutes cannot be saved from further deterioration. However, if they are too strong to touch, then responsible administration may ask them politely and humbly to learn lesson from an adage “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” meaning that one can attract greater devotion and effort with kindness than with meanness. Unless VCs redress all colleagues’ grievances in a fair and equitable way and communicate openly and honestly with them, universities cannot become locally productive and globally competitive. Thus, a wise and visionary leader is never vindictive and revengeful and always rewards and cares his/her colleagues who are an invaluable asset
  4. 4. of an institute. The caring and rewarding leadership can get the willful cooperation of his/her colleagues which is important in flourishing and prospering institutions. The purpose of writing this treatise is not to humiliate or criticize any specific person or organization but is to share my personal experience to ignite an academic debate.