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  • Rethinking Leadership Practices in a Complex, Multicultural, and Global Environment: New Concepts and Models for Higher Education
  • Susan R. Komives
Adrianna Kezar (Ed.). Rethinking Leadership Practices in a Complex, Multicultural, and Global Environment: New Concepts and Models for Higher Education. Sterling, VA: Stylus. 270 pp. Paper: $27.50. ISBN: 978-1-57922-282-6.

In Rethinking Leadership Practices in a Complex, Multicultural and Global Environment, Adrianne Kezar and her colleagues advance lessons from emergent non-hierarchical, collaborative leadership approaches focused on process and values to inform critical leadership needs in the academy.

Moving away from hierarchical, author-based, context-free, highly structured, and value-neutral leadership frameworks, contemporary scholars have embraced context-specific, globalized, and process-oriented perspectives of leadership that emphasize empowerment, cross-cultural understanding, collaboration, cognitive complexity, and social responsibility for others (p. x). [End Page 186]

Kezar asserts that colleges and universities need "new leaders who embrace new concepts and abilities of leadership" (p. ix) and that training programs need new visionary models and strategies to develop this leadership. Indeed Rethinking Leadership Practices is an excellent compilation of the concepts, models, and good practices to develop the contemporary leadership capacity so needed in a new generation of college leaders. The primary concepts advanced in the book are "organizational learning, sensitivity to context and culture, ethics/spirituality, emotions, complexity and chaos, globalization, empowerment and social change, and teams/collaboration" (p. xiii).

The audience for this book is any administrator accountable to develop talent and capacity for faculty and staff in the leadership pipeline. With the admonition that old models of training will not develop leadership capacities so needed in today's times, Kezar and her authors present successful models that have developed women and professionals of color over the years.

The advice that the reader could "read the chapters in any order" (p. xiii) after the first chapter both establishes the volume as a collection of interesting models of practice but also signals some confusion in the organizational structure. Arranging Chapters 2 through 9 by sections would have helped better cluster models of good practice (e.g., HERS, ADVANCE) and present visionary content to include in leadership training (e.g., spirituality) and compelling pedagogies (e.g., case-in-point methods).

Each chapter is well written, rich in context and detail, well researched with useful resources, and anchored by direct practical applications. The chapters are uniformly of high quality. Many students tell me they usually skip the "Preface," but in this book, that would be a big mistake! This preface is a substantive contribution to the evolution of leadership development programs and framework for the argument for the book.

In a superb Chapter 1, "Revolutionizing Leadership Development: Lessons from Theory and Research," Adrianna Kezar and Rozana Carducci overview the shifting perspectives on leadership (and leadership in higher education in particular) from leader-centric, authority-based models to models that have emerged in the last 20 years. These newer models value a relational dynamic leading to collaborative and ethical practices and approach leadership as both individual capacity and organizational processes. They make a strong case for how today's needed emphasis on context and culture, among other concepts noted previously, call those engaged in leadership development to rethink "program timeframes, balancing action and reflection, promoting interdependence, situating leadership in context, and focusing on values" (p. xiii). They skillfully apply theory and research to practice.

Several chapters present wonderful detail on the history, content, and practices of well-developed leadership programs, particularly those for women and people of color who are empowered in training institutes and programs to "challenge the status quo" (p. xiv) and expand their personal capacity to move into positional leadership roles. In Chapter 2, Lynn M. Gangone presents a complex assessment of "The HERS Institutes: Revolutionary Leadership Development for Women." HERS's successful emphasis on social change, equity, inclusion, and empowerment in the career advancement of women is a foundational guide to other talent development programs.

Bridget R. McCurtis, Jerlando F. L. Jackson, and Elizabeth M. O'Callaghan thoroughly discuss "Developing Leadership of Color in Higher Education: Can Contemporary Programs Address Historical Employment Trends?" (Chapter 3) to include data trends and best practices in leadership...


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pp. 186-188
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