Leadership development in times of leadership shortages: A collective case study of perceptions and expectations of Texas community college presidents and board members



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The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of Texas community college presidents and board members regarding leadership development and succession planning. Particularly, how each has utilized leadership development and succession planning in anticipation of the impending mass retirement of numerous baby boomers throughout community colleges across the state of Texas. Additionally, this study sought to explore the influences of leadership development throughout the careers of each participant. Research estimates 85% of community colleges presidents expect to retire by the years of 2016-2107, thus leaving a massive impact on community colleges by the loss of systemic knowledge. In addition to the anticipated retirement of community college presidents is the retirement of those who are described as baby boomers and who hold executive administrative roles throughout community colleges.
The settings for this study were five community colleges located in Texas. Participants were four college presidents and four board members from the study institutions. Data collection tools used were a demographic survey, face-to-face semi-structured interviews, field notes, and documents. Data analysis occurred through the constant comparative method and open and axial coding to generate themes to answer the research questions for the study. Through the use of appropriate qualitative strategies, trustworthiness of the study was established and ensured.
Findings of the study were that there are different requirements for leadership development between presidents and board members, that there is no single form of leadership development that meets the needs of all institutions; and most of the leadership development for the participants had occurred through their life experiences and earlier job roles. In addition, institutions need a leadership development plan to ensure a pipeline of future leader; those interested in pursuing future leadership roles need to prepare; and institutions need to identify the characteristics needed in their future executive leaders. The results of this study provide best practices to community college presidents and board members in gaining a better understanding of the effectiveness of leadership development through a comprehensive succession plan. Additionally, the results of this study suggest several implications and recommendations for higher education practice. Implications include the lack of upper level training through structured leadership development opportunities, the repercussions of not having comprehensive succession plan that contributes to the future success of the institution, and the inability of institutions to truly benefit from an in-house leadership development plan.
Recommendations for higher education practice include identification of leadership development needs within an institution, the development of a structured succession plan, the practice of identifying future leaders through strategic hiring practices, and cultivating current talent into future leaders to meet the needs of the institution and to ensure student success.



Leadership development, Succession planning