leadership traits, business management experience, long-term viability


Higher educational institutions (HIEDs) are complex organizations at a pivotal moment in history (Bourgeois, 2016; Guskin & Marcy, 2002; McGee, 2015). This qualitative study sought to understand the leadership traits of nontraditional college presidents, particularly those with business management backgrounds, to determine whether HIEDs could benefit from hiring them to help face challenges today. Results of the study were based on data collected from eight current college presidents collected April–August 2022. Three major findings and several subthemes emerged. Two major findings were expected: college presidents with business management experience are business driven and turnaround driven. A third major finding was unexpected: they are also mission driven. By offering this composite description of these individuals, HIEDs will understand the attributes and potential benefits of hiring college presidents with business management experience to meet their challenges.