Becoming an Authority Figure – Annotated Bibliography

Selected books, research articles, and popular literature for those seeking deeper knowledge.

Establishing Yourself as an Authority Figure

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst

In this entertaining and thoughtful book, Sutton puts forth a vision and strategies for effective leadership by presenting stories, cases, and research to highlight what he views as the characteristics of a good boss, ranging from the interpersonal and emotional to the strategic. Sutton also discusses the importance of selecting and promoting those who are both talented and cooperative.

Sutton, R. (2010). Good boss, bad boss: How to be the best…and learn from the worst.

What Creates Energy in Organizations?

The authors present an inspiring model of leadership in which they explore the concept of “energizers”—those who build buy-in and momentum for work initiatives—and “de-engergizers”— those who seem to drain motivation from the group. The article presents concepts and strategies for increasing energy in the workplace, and a series of questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are an energizer or de-energizer.

Cross, R., Baker, W., & Parker, A. (2003). What creates energy in organizations? MIT Sloan Management Review. 44(4): 51-56. Retrieved from:–organizations 

What can you do with Imposter Syndrome?

Many who transition to the role of an administrator will question how they can possibly become a strong leader, and many who are already performing well in such a role will still second-guess their abilities. In this TEDx talk, the speaker describes the concept of Imposter Syndrome and provides advice that may be reassuring to you as you develop your leadership persona.

This Harvard Business Review Classic targets knowledge workers who often must become their own chief executive officers. The current article poses several important questions to ponder and provides advice to more effectively develop a career. An excellent read for today’s leaders, whose careers often span decades and who may re-invent themselves on many occasions. 

Drucker, P. F. (2008). Managing Oneself. Harvard Business Review Press.

Moral Authority and Authentic Leadership

Servant leadership for higher education: Principles and practices

The author presents the concept of servant leadership to refer to the idea that an effective administrator in higher education is one who approaches the position with a sense of responsibility to the institution and its mission. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of academic leadership using a thoughtful and practical tone that we think many will Lind useful for considering how to lead.

Wheeler, D.W. (2011). Servant leadership for higher education: Principles and practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Practicing Authentic Leadership

This book chapter presents the concept of “authentic leadership” using historical and current examples of leaders from the United States, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Warren Buffett, who exhibit(ed) authentic leadership qualities. Authentic leadership in this book is exemplified by principles such as being guided by conscience, the desire to serve, self-awareness, and placing the interests of the collective above one’s own. The authors discuss strategies for developing as an authentic leader.

Avolio, B.J. & Wernsing, T.S. (2008) In Positive Psychology: Exploring the Best in People, edited by S.J. Lopez. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Company. Retrieved from: 

Trust and Distrust in Organizations: Emerging Perspective, Enduring Questions

This review article provides a theoretical overview of the concept of trust and its outcomes, and the theoretical underpinnings of how trust and distrust emerge as the result of personality and motives, social psychological factors, and institutional systems (e.g., rules, procedures, and reward structures).

Kramer, R.M. (1999). Annual Review of Psychology, 50: 56-598. 

Establishing Authority in Higher Education

Advice for new administrators

Leadership in higher education is not easy, and you should start by knowing what to expect as you take on your new role. Lehfeldt shares her insights on what she wishes she had known before becoming an administrator. The advice succinctly captures some of the anecdotal insights that we often hear from new leaders.

Lehfeldt, E.A. (2016). Advice for new administratorsRetrieved from: 

Your to-do list as chair

A quick read with sage advice to help new department chairs understand their roles and responsibilities–and how they can use this understanding to effect change.

University administrators must navigate the transition from being a peer (and often friend) to being the authority Ligure. What happens when these two roles conflict? In this advice column, C.K. Gunsalus gives advice to an administrator faced with a dilemma involving information about a faculty member that was shared by a friend.

Retrieved from:

The college administrator’s survival guide

This book presents common dilemmas that many college administrators face and practical tips for navigating them while building a reputation as an authority Ligure in an environment where formal authority may carry little weight. The author offers tips, insights, and tools for dealing with the university environment. As noted on the back cover by one reviewer, “Colleges should buy this book by the truckload and provide copies to all the poor souls who are about to be thrown into the abyss of academic administration.”

Gunsalus, C. K. (2006). The college administrator’s survival guide. Harvard University Press

Gaining Influence

Becoming the Boss

This is a must-read article for those who are new to any position of authority; the author addresses many common misconceptions new leaders have about how to gain influence. Of particular relevance to university administrators is the notion that authority comes not through formal status and the competence one gained as an individual contributor, but through building strong relationships, establishing credibility, and challenging conventional assumptions within the unit.

Hill, L.A. (2007). Becoming the boss. Harvard Business ReviewRetrieved from: 

On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B

Using examples from many disciplines and contexts, from politics and medicine to business and universities, this classic article presents the basic premise that one cannot expect results when asking for one thing while rewarding another. This will serve as a gentle reminder for those in a position of authority to evaluate reward systems when seeking to influence others.

Kerr, S. (1995). On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B. The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005), 9(1), 7-14. 

Influence: Science and Practice

Cialdini’s book presents social psychological research findings on how to gain influence using memorable, relatable, and often humorous examples.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and practice (Vol. 4) Boston, MA: Pearson Education. 

Getting past no: Negotiating in difficult situations

A step-by-step, practical guide for overcoming resistance and dealing with conflict. The advice and techniques are useful for both personal and professional challenges.

Ury, W. (2007). Getting past no: Negotiating in difficult situations. Bantam. 

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