This paper draws on the extant literature on higher education and leadership to outline approaches to building institutional leadership in Africa’s rapidly changing higher education landscape. The paper submits that African institutions of higher education must proactively take charge of nurturing leadership so as to translate leadership competence into strategic assets.
The pressure for change within the higher education sector has intensified with scarce resources and increased competitiveness and international choice for students and staff, making leadership capacity very critical. Adapting to the threats, opportunities and possibilities requires a leadership that is not only be visionary, but also has the unique ability to engage in strategic scanning, i.e. the capacity to recognize the behaviour of interconnected systems to make effective decisions under varying strategic and risk scenarios, and the transformation of knowledge.Hence, a leadership that is politically astute, economically savvy, business aware and uses its emotional intelligence to drive success.
The paper concludes that while institutional, economic, political and funding constraints exist, higher education in Africa is uniquely positioned as a result of technological advances, private-public partnerships, open course-ware, and knowledge management to advance institutional leadership for transformative change.