Ben E. Hermalin

Ben E. Hermalin
Vice Provost for the Faculty, UC Berkeley, Thomas and Alison Schneider Distinguished Professor of Finance and Professor, Department of Economics

How do you define faculty leadership?
Leadership is the ability to motivate others to pursue a course of action without relying (much) on either extrinsic incentives or threats.

Can you share an example of when you've been able to influence positive change as an academic leader?
I have managed to rally colleagues and committee members to pursue courses of action to which they were, initially, either indifferent or mildly opposed. There were a number of policies around academic personnel matters that I was able to persuade various committees to work for. Also, on a number of occasions, I convinced my colleagues to look more broadly in faculty searches, often leading us to improve the diversity of the pool.

How could the University benefit from preparing more faculty for future leadership positions?
Having effective leaders at all levels is essential both to make progress and you avoid wasting time. The University benefits when it has people who listen and consult, but who are not afraid to actually make a decision. It benefits when it has people willing to invest in learning the rules and regulations, ensuring they are fairly applied, but also willing to work to change those that no longer make sense.

Tell us about your experience with leadership development programs, or if you have not participated in any, what you would hope to gain from doing so.
The best leadership development programs are those that allow participants to bring the leadership and management problems they are encountering in their day-to-day life to a good program facilitator/instructor and a group of fellow participants who are smart and engaged. 

How does strong leadership from Faculty affect [improve] the University of California?
Some of the benefits of shared governance and strong faculty leadership are it brings more minds to bear on the University's problems, it legitimatizes the decisions for the faculty because they helped shape them, and fosters a sense of belonging and commitment to the organization.

What would you say to Faculty hard pressed to find time to participate in leadership workshops or other programming?
These programs are best if you're already in or just starting leadership positions. They provide you an opportunity to get help solving the problems that are keeping you up at night (or, at the very least, offering you some therapy and understanding from people facing the same travails).