Every Thursday morning, a group of senior university management people meet in the "Mainstream Meeting", to facilitate discussions about Leeds Met and its initiatives. Today the topic was "The Professoriate", and three Leeds Met professors were invited to give their views: Sue Clegg, Franco Bianchini, and myself. We discussed the topic of what exactly defines a professor, what the specific professorial tasks and roles are, and how this links to Leeds Met's vision and character.
My own opinion here is that a professor is many different things at a time: a researcher, a manager, an expert/specialist, a generalist, a communicator, a coach. The professor needs to link research with teaching and needs to motivate students and staff. The professor also needs to link across faculty boundaries, and across university boundaries into the public, by representing the university and his/her academic expertise. The professor needs to build links between the own research and other research areas, needs to understand links and connections, and needs to build a network of peers.
Quite a lot to do - and the day only has 24 hours... The big problem is: any activity takes away time of other activities... so if too many activities are undertaken, none of them will result in exceptional success but will merely be mediocre. That is why sometimes a professor also needs to say NO to requests for tasks, work, projects, activities, bureaucracy - in order to keep up the level of professional work and results.