IIT Hyderabad and Spanish researchers conduct study to understand influence of self-leadership qualities on intention to mentor among university teachers

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Hyderabad: Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad and Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, conducted a study to understand the influence of self-leadership on the intention to mentor among Indian and Spanish university teachers considering the mediating role of self-efficacy and the moderating role of individualism-collectivism dimensions. Their work has been published in Journal of Cross-Cultural and Strategic Management, Emerald Insight.

The research team consisted of Dr. M.P. Ganesh, Associate Professor, Department of Liberal Arts, IIT Hyderabad, Prof. Angeles Lopez-Cabarcos and Prof. Paula Vazquez-Rodriguez from Department of Business Administration, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The study was funded by Research Excellence USC-India fellowship.

Survey-based research was conducted among 88 Indian and 105 Spanish university teachers. Self-leadership is a process involving control and influence of one’s own behaviour through certain behavioural and cognitive strategies (Manz, 1986). Employees who regulate their actions in a positive direction can be an asset to the organisation, wherein they not only perform effectively but also influence people around them as role models (Gong et al., 2009).

Speaking about the study, Dr. M.P. Ganesh, said, “There is a general notion that being a university teacher is relatively a stress free job, but in reality young teachers in higher educational institutions find it difficult to cope with the demands of their job due to the high levels of autonomy and constant pressure to perform in multiple spheres like teaching, research and industry-relevant projects. Thus, the need for peer mentoring among young teachers who are in the early stages of their career is high. In this context, this study tries to understand what are the factors which contribute to a teacher’s intention to mentor others in their workplace. We have compared teachers from India and Spain to understand this phenomenon in a global context.”

Self-leadership is an important quality which influences individual effectiveness, especially it is crucial for professionals who work independently and whose jobs are self-managed. Mentoring is defined as a process through which the older experienced individual (mentor) acts as a guide, counsellor and a friend to a younger or inexperienced individual (mentee), with potential benefits to the mentees (Koyuncu et al., 2014). Among various factors which affect the effectiveness of a mentoring program, the mentors’ willingness or intention to mentor plays a crucial role (Ragins and Scandura, 1994).

Results of the study showed Indian teachers had higher levels of intention to mentoring than Spanish teachers. On the other hand, teachers from India valued position-based power more than Spanish teachers. In both the groups, self-leadership qualities improved the teachers’ sense of control over their work and personal environment (self-efficacy) and this lead to increased intention to mentoring others in the workplace. Cultural values (like individualism-collectivism and power-distance) also played an important role in the way self-efficacy influenced intention to mentor. Teachers with high self-efficacy are inclined toward mentoring; their intention becomes stronger when they are driven by a feeling of empathy generated from the sense of equality (horizontal individualism) or by a sense of moral obligation to give back to their professional community (vertical collectivism).

The key insight from this study was the importance of nurturing self-management skills among employees in order to improve their workplace effectiveness. Increasing teachers’ intention to mentor will not only improve academic performance but also nurture professionalism and ethical values among students. This can be achieved by providing autonomy to teachers to decide upon their own performance measures to quantify their effectiveness.

For example, teachers can be allowed to choose among different parameters like academic research, publication, teaching, socially relevant projects and industry-oriented research as their performance criteria. This will increase the sense of autonomy and control over their jobs and thus create a culture of mentoring. Also, creating a flatter organisational structure can increase the level of interactions and collaborations among subordinates, which can bring in a sense of equality and empathy. This might also bridge the gap caused by diversity in age, tenure and background and thus improve mentoring among teachers.