Introduction: The search for solutions to the issue of leadership leads to hundreds of leadership studies, most of which are contradictory and inconclusive. The scientific literature on leadership in higher education is focused mainly on educational, academic, managerial or thought leadership. This literature provides the opinion that the intellectual leadership in higher education is directed towards building social and intellectual capital through a scholar’s involvement in decision-making and performance of leadership roles in ways that support the scholar’s collaborative decision-making and empowerment. Scholars see intellectual leadership as the scope of challenging processes, which incorporate ideas, values, understandings, solutions, beliefs, visions, knowledge, approaches, purpose and actions. These aspects must be accepted through collectively-shared understanding and generated contextually for organizational development in higher education. With growth in administrative demands, it becomes difficult for intellectual leaders to achieve an appropriate balance of leadership, teaching and research in higher education.
Purpose: To explore and describe the conceptual contents of intellectual leadership and academic leadership by providing their similarities and differences.
Methods: In the research, a descriptive literature review (Yang & Tate, 2012) was applied. The sample was mainly based on academic publications; the articles included are all refereed journal articles.
Conclusions: The literature review covered wide range of aspects, which reveal that intellectual leadership consists of roles that have several orientations, but the intellectual leadership is not related to the formal administrational or managerial positions. The roles of a scholar in relation to the concept of “intellectual leadership” maybe seen through the following activity spheres: mentor represents educational sphere, guardian – moral sphere, enabler – managerial and administrative spheres, and ambassador – political and communication sphere (Zydziunaite, 2016). The importance of personal characteristics and academic achievements in the formation of intellectual leaders’ reputation is also highlighted in the article. Despite the limitations of definitions on intellectual leadership it is argued that this concept is related to the organic personality of an intellectual leader (scholar) who acts as organizer of ideas, carries responsibility for academic development and direction in higher education.