October 29, 2009

The Dean’s Disease

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:31 pm by ctennert

The Dean’s Disease is a way of labeling certain educational leaders who become wrapped up in their own self-importance, which in turn changes their view about themselves and other employees at the institution.  This syndrome could happen to any professional in some sort of power position, when they start to become pompous and act entitled. 

One reason why this occurs is because Dean’s have control over resources, and in turn, faculty.  They demonstrate their power, and because of the trickle-down effect, are sometimes detached from day-to-day happenings.  They can create a groupthink atmosphere, which is particularly dangerous.  Another reason for this behavior is, the Dean’s start to actually believe that they are the most special attribution to an institution.  They start to buy into their own b.s., creating an inflated sense of self-worth.  The last reason this disease occurs, is the Dean now developes a taste for power, putting this before anything else.  This could include placing emphasis on their power over rules, morals or procedures.

True leaders act quite differently than people suffering from the Dean’s Disease.  They portray a model of modesty and honesty.  They invite people into their circle who may disagree with them, never creating a groupthink moral.  They are constantly learning, and do not see other bright individuals as threats.  I read a great blog by Art Petty this week that really touches on the value of being modest as a leader.  I believe that the best leaders are the ones who are not riding their high horse, and are down to earth and relatable to their employees. 

Preventative measures can be taken to avoid the Dean’s Disease such as establishing values and encouraging independent thought.  And to stay on course, one must make a conscience decision to be self-directed and motivated to be a part of everyday interactions with colleagues.  Also, it is important to maintain a culture that will attract other talented faculty to support others’ weaknesses, including the Dean’s.


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