Leadership for the Long Haul
Find your leaders and get them ready for the future.
By (edited) Apryl Motley
More than likely, your leaders are right in front of you. In fact, chances are they are on your campus, waiting to be recognized. They need to know that you value them not only for today but for what they can accomplish 5 or even 10 years from now—for the long haul.
“In my experience,” says Andy Brantley, chief executive officer of CUPA-HR, “high-performing employees who have the potential to become future leaders usually emerge through performance with their everyday responsibilities and special projects. Managers must take the time to engage these individuals.” Too often, says Brantley, such employees are not offered opportunities to continue growing professionally. Instead, a staffer with potential may be hearing familiar excuses for the absence of professional development and training programs. For example, “We are much too busy for you to be out of the office.” Or: “You are learning so much on the job that you really don’t need any external training.” Or: “The budget is really tight this year.” However, Brantley cautions, “Exceptional employees may accept this for a period of time, but [they’ll] soon begin searching for other career opportunities. The result can often be that another high performer leaves the organization instead of being trained and mentored to move to other positions within the organization.”
Concerned leaders are taking comments like Brantley’s to heart. Institutions in Florida, Iowa, and Georgia, for example, are home to future-focused initiatives. The goal: to promote internal leadership development on their campuses by investing resources in formalized programs for staff and faculty. Faculty and employees at Daytona Beach Community College, Florida, have been able to take advantage of participation in its Leadership Development Institute for the past five years. Similarly, at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, attention to the business value behind leadership development led to the launch of UI LEAD (leadership education, assessment, and development), a comprehensive leadership competency program for faculty and staff. Earlier this year, Emory University, Atlanta, enrolled its second class of participants in Excellence Through Leadership.
Here’s a closer look at the three programs and at the visions, processes, and lessons that they bring to shaping campus leadership that lasts.
APRYL MOTLEY, Columbia, Maryland, covers higher education issues for Business Officer.
Averting a Talent Void
A four-track training curriculum is helping Daytona Beach Community College become a learning organization positioned for long-term stability.
We’ve been increasingly aware of the impending deficit of community college leaders, triggered primarily by retirements. Estimates have indicated that the exodus will have a cascading effect, as second- and third-tier managers and administrators reposition themselves to move into vacant first- and second-tier positions. Leaders at Daytona Beach Community College (DBCC), Florida, took notice of the trend seven years ago. We could see its clear implications in terms of sustaining excellence and ingraining it in the culture of our multicampus college, which serves more than 30,000 students and employs nearly 1,000 people.
To address the problem, our newly hired president, D. Kent Sharples, implemented a workshop series called the Presidential Leadership Seminars, with an accompanying component called the Beacon Leadership program. The seminars consisted of two- to three-day workshops for invited employees. Sessions were taught by recognized leaders, including presidents and senior administrators from other institutions. The series was effective in terms of short-term goals. However, the consensus was that the workshops did not provide new leaders the long-term development necessary for complex senior-level roles—or for intermediate roles that they might assume as the leadership wave moved forward.
The solution was to develop an in-house program coupled with a formal succession plan. Explaining his decision to establish this initiative, President Sharples stated, “Developing leaders at all levels of the institution and systematically planning for succession are as important as anything that we do. It’s all about teaching and learning.”
Interaction and Input
Since the leadership program was intended to focus on broad objectives and opportunities, not merely on senior-level positions, representatives of all college employee groups gave input on program development. This initial focus group was later formalized as the leadership development committee. A vice president with an industrial organizational psychology background and an associate vice president with human resources experience led the initiative. The president provided overall guidance. Bringing this high level of expertise and experience to the project also sent the message of full institutional support for the effort.
Curriculum and Criteria
In preparation for the first year of the program, the committee developed a curriculum along with admission and selection criteria. The curriculum consisted of four tracks with specific objectives and activities.
Track one addresses basic leadership skills and is required for all participants. Programming includes an assessment of leadership styles as well as topics such as leadership theory and strategy, team leadership, work–life balance, ethical leadership, and emotional intelligence.
Track two highlights formal education opportunities, such as pursuing advanced degrees. To facilitate the achievement of advanced degrees, the college provides financial support of 75–100 percent of the total cost of course work in preparation for the degree. This is significantly more than the normal, fixed reimbursement provided to employees not participating in the leadership development program. Employees are, however, required to complete course work on their own time.
Track three involves specialized training and mentoring opportunities that might then be institutionalized. “Specialized training” refers to opportunities for employees to learn a new skill—not necessarily one associated with their current job assignment—from another employee with expertise in the particular skill. The overall goal is to create an institutional culture of mentoring, whereby employees are eager to share their knowledge and skills with others.
Track four is required of all participants and includes a sponsoring component, which takes the form of a networking strategy. Individuals develop a portfolio documenting their strengths and skills. They then present their work to three to five institutional leaders for critique and feedback during a face-to-face meeting. During the interaction, participants are encouraged to ask the institutional leaders if they would be willing to serve as “sponsors” in the future by providing references or making recommendations.
The official name for the program became the Leadership Development Institute (LDI). Admission to the program was by application and was open to all employees. As part of the admission process, the codirectors of the leadership initiative interviewed each applicant, who was also required to develop a professional development plan that included goals and a time line. While no applicants were rejected, the interview and goal-setting activity were used to assist employees in determining whether it was in their best interest to enter the program at that time.
In the first year, more than 100 employees were accepted for the program and decided to proceed. The completion rate for year one was 80 percent. LDI has continued to use the same admission process, with applications being accepted once a year during the summer for activities that take place during the coming academic year.
Following the first year of the program, the decision was made to limit the number of new participants to 25 per year. This was a practical matter. During the first year, to accommodate all participants, multiple sessions of each activity had to be scheduled. This created difficulty for managing the program and, in some cases, began to interfere with normal college operations. Another benefit of limited participation has been an increased sense of commitment on the part of the applicants selected for the program.
Finances and Funding
Initial funding was provided from staff and program development funds, which were part of a state-required, 2-percent set-aside based on the college’s budget. Although that set-aside is no longer in effect, the college continues to fund the leadership curriculum as an integral part of ongoing staff development. The program’s directors control the annual budget of approximately $20,000. When an employee is selected to participate, his or her department is not charged with any direct cost.
Expenses for the 60–65 employees participating in the four program tracks are mainly associated with in-house activities, instructional materials, and occasional outside speakers. Not included in this cost are the salaries of LDI’s two codirectors. While running LDI is time-consuming, the work does not represent a full-time job for the directors and is viewed as part of their respective duties related to institutional effectiveness and organizational development.
It is not easy to calculate the savings resulting from the decreased need to recruit externally or from flattening the learning curve for employees assuming new positions. However, the consensus is that the amount is considerable. Reflecting on the cost of the leadership program, executive vice president Rand Spiwak stated, “We at DBCC are clearly aware of the cost of being unprepared with respect to retirements, loss of leadership, and the effects on institutional continuity. The college’s leadership program coupled with a formal succession planning process has served to minimize these costs and maximize the continuity of administration of the college.”
Objectives and Outcomes
Tangible and intangible outcomes have been of equal importance for institutional sustainability. The tangible outcomes include more than 30 promotions of employees who were deemed “position-ready” to assume roles of greater responsibility. A less measurable outcome is the program’s role in the ongoing change in institutional culture demonstrated by the positive difference in the way employees feel about and do their jobs.
Each of the leadership tracks has had unique success stories.
- Basic leadership training has provided a sense of institutional renewal. In their session or program evaluations, participants cited the experiences as a catalyst for improved professional performance even when their particular job was not associated with a promotion or other career progression.
- The formal education track, during the past six years, has resulted in staff earning 14 doctorates and five master’s degrees. Approximately two dozen employees are now in various stages of completing advanced degrees. Most are studying educational leadership, although a few are focused on other disciplines or professional areas. This track is supported by college funds set aside for tuition reimbursement for all employees. However, LDI participants are reimbursed at a higher rate than nonparticipants.
- Mentoring and sponsoring activities have been two of the most effective leadership development areas. The mentoring activity uses a traditional mentor–mentee model designed to teach the process and establish relationships between LDI participants and established leaders in the institution. Mentors may be invited to participate by LDI’s codirectors, or they may be recommended by a participant who is seeking a mentor. In either case, they are required to attend one of the institute’s training sessions. While most mentors are assigned from within the college, a few mentees have been assigned to external mentors to capture a desired expertise.
The mentoring requirement results in at least one mentor for each program participant. In most cases, however, the mentor-mentee relationship extends beyond that requirement, resulting in multiple mentor contacts for each participant. This dynamic also results in increased visibility and more institutional contact for the mentee.
- The sponsoring activity was designed to teach LDI participants how to establish relationships with institutional leaders. It also focused on students learning to highlight and enhance their personal attributes and skills in much the same way they would be expected to do if they were interviewing for a job.
The outcomes of the sponsoring activity were quite similar to those of mentoring, with one major difference. While mentoring focused on positive one-on-one relationships, sponsoring centered on building participants’ confidence while getting face time with individuals with whom they did not normally interact.
As far as the ongoing evaluation of the overall program, a multiphased process guides program assessment. Each session and activity is reviewed, using a form customized for the specific program component. Instructors assess participants on their progress toward achieving the goals established in the initial interview at the beginning of the program; evaluation is repeated at the beginning of years two and three. All results are compiled and used for program improvement.
Overall, the program is considered to be quite a success. The model has been presented at several national conferences. Internally, completion of the program is an important consideration for promotions and advancement.
Lessons for the Future
The program’s five-year history provides a number of insights. Here are some of the most significant ones:
- Provide “safe ground” on which employees can express their aspirations; do so by openly encouraging employees to build career paths and chart career progression options. Employees with an eye on the future usually performed more effectively in their current roles because of their desire to be prepared for advancement when the opportunity arose.
- Keep the leadership development focus on overall excellence in job performance rather than on preparation for a specific position. It is important, especially for faculty in the program, to provide a specific mechanism for improvement of leadership and performance in lieu of focusing on position advancement. Toward that end, a master teacher track has recently been added for faculty members who want to participate in the program but do not want to leave the classroom as part of their career progression.
- Celebrate progress with recognition of participants by the institution’s senior leadership. DBCC hosts a formal recognition ceremony at the end of each year—with occasional celebrations at other times—to recognize achievements as appropriate.
By identifying and supporting leaders from within its ranks, Daytona Beach Community College is coming closer to its goal of becoming the ideal learning organization. Leadership training, coaching, and mentoring are building a solid foundation for long-term institutional sustainability. Seeing that the institution is willing to invest so much in them leaves no doubt in employees’ minds that their futures and that of the institution are integrally connected.
LAURA F. PHILLIPS is associate vice president and controller and CHARLES CARROLL is senior vice president for planning, development, and institutional effectiveness, Daytona Beach Community College, Florida.
Launching Into Leadership
A research university takes a systematic approach to assessing potential leaders and supporting their professional growth.
The University of Iowa (The UI), Iowa City, aspires to be one of the top 10 public research universities in the country. Faculty and staff leaders count on strategic planning to highlight the priorities that will get us there. The most recent planning process went further, challenging university leaders to make regular assessments of their work, prepare action plans, and share with the community how their decisions directly relate to identified goals.
Leadership development is inherent in many of these activities and has been identified as one of the top five goals of “The Iowa Promise”—the university’s strategic plan for 2005 through 2011. It is also essential to The UI’s recognized need to recruit and retain excellent faculty and staff. However, building a comprehensive talent management system in a decentralized environment is a challenge. While the human resources department provides leadership training, consultation, professional development, and coaching, faculty and staff increasingly have voiced their request for further leadership development. This came in part because of funding restrictions, discrepancies between leadership styles and unit or employee expectations, and limited time for campus leaders to pursue development opportunities. This call for leadership development signified the importance of a more robust initiative in this area. University leaders clearly recognized that such opportunities are critical for retaining top staff and faculty and for improving productivity.
For guidance in how to develop an effective program, the human resources organizational effectiveness unit looked to the results of “2006 Working at IOWA,” the most extensive campus-climate survey administered to date. In response to the survey, faculty and staff identified their need for assistance in managing poor performance appropriately; informing employees about the status of the budget, addressing workplace conflicts, distributing workloads fairly; and building confidence in the plan to strengthen the university.
Senior HR leadership in colleges and divisions across campus discussed action plans to address these issues. At the same time, the organizational effectiveness unit created UI LEAD (leadership education, assessment, and development). The program provides an innovative, systematic approach to developing organizational leadership competency by supporting professional growth of individual faculty and staff members.
Assessing Strengths and Clarifying Priorities
Extensive literature reviews and advice from Associate Professor Kenneth Brown of The UI’s Tippie College of Business pointed to the importance of using multirater assessment as a means for clarifying individuals’ leadership strengths and priorities and targeting appropriate developmental activities. Such an assessment is also called a “360,” as it seeks feedback on distinct leadership competencies from a “full circle” of perspectives, such as one’s own leadership, direct reports, team members, and peers or colleagues. This assessment process, coupled with the organizational effectiveness unit’s leadership coaching experiences, spurred the development of the first phases of UI LEAD.
Phase one. This preliminary phase provides an individualized method for assessing and developing leadership competency in four steps. The process parallels “Readiness for Change” models, developed by Changing for Good authors James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carlo DiClemente, to support behavioral change.
1. Prepare. UI LEAD human resources advisors are matched to individual participants and their supervisors or faculty administrators. Advisors clarify leadership goals through two interviews, in which participants and their administrators address specific questions about strengths, opportunities, and anticipated organizational impact of achieving leadership objectives.
2. Assess. Advisors then consult with participants to
- select the elements of the 360-degree instrument, which is designed to assess leadership competencies at the individual’s level of organizational responsibility and experience;
- identify and communicate with raters in the multirater survey; and
- objectively interpret and review the results of the multirater survey.
3. Plan. Participants and advisors use themes from the interviews and the 360-degree assessment to identify activities and resources specific to each individual’s leadership training. These include:
- Individualized talent development plans that formalize objectives and measures for assessing leadership behavior and organizational outcomes.
- A talent accelerator, which is a leadership competency database that provides an interactive environment for participant and advisor to reflect on best practices and to link content to specific competencies assessed in the 360.
- Additional resources, such as leadership coaching, coursework, independent study, mentoring, career advice, cross-functional experiences, and executive health services.
4. Support. UI LEAD advisors ask participants and their supervisors or faculty administrators to share feedback on the talent development plan and encourage regular dialogue on results. In addition, advisors “check in” periodically with participants to ensure progress and support and to coordinate a repeat 360 assessment. At the conclusion of the program, the participant, supervisor or faculty administrator, and advisor hold a closing meeting to measure outcomes and discuss methods for sustaining growth.
Phase two. The second phase focuses on providing participants with expanded offerings in several areas of leadership development. The content and structure of these offerings may build upon current campus initiatives, such as:
- A periodic dean’s lunch brings together deans and chairs from across campus to discuss administrative challenges and lessons learned.
- HR leaders are nominated to join sessions and roundtables centered on managing conflict, building influence, and other leadership topics.
- Participants wanting to build further skills may seek opportunities to participate on task forces or cross-departmental project teams as ways to increase leadership vision, influence, and practice.
Paying the Tab
The university’s HR department earmarked $10,000 in “seed money” to pilot UI LEAD. Funding covered the initial costs of leadership assessment services conducted by Envisia Learning. This outside vendor provides participants with validated, online 360 surveys, comprehensive skills-assessment reports, and interactive toolkits—all of which costs $360 per participant.
Faculty and staff who are interested in UI LEAD are encouraged to seek support from supervisors and administrators to cover the program fees. Shared governance groups in some colleges and divisions have expressed interest in funding annual UI LEAD scholarships. Campus administrators, who have identified succession planning needs for faculty chairs and senior staff positions, are also interested in financially supporting enrollment for new and/or potential leaders.
Identifying and Engaging Potential Leaders
The organizational effectiveness unit sought to clarify the need for leadership development by conducting a series of campus conversations on leadership competencies and how to develop such competencies effectively. In partnership with senior HR representatives, the unit then met with deans, directors, and other senior leaders in each college and division to accomplish the following:
- present and receive feedback about the leadership development program,
- ask what leadership needs people saw as priorities for guiding the development of future offerings, and
- understand succession planning requirements and forecast potential enrollments in the program.
These meetings, known as the “2007 Campus Conversations on Leadership Development” (www.uiowa.edu/hr/oe/lead/vision.html), identified a leadership-pipeline gap, specifically when it came to quickly acclimating new faculty chairs; supporting new principle investigators, research scientists, and laboratory managers; enhancing the skill of experienced staff leaders; and meeting the predicted talent shortages of an aging workforce. This input was used to create the following strategies:
- Deans, directors, and senior HR leaders identify and nominate high-potential faculty and staff members within their colleges or divisions for participation in the program.
- A cohort of identified leaders are also systematically enrolled in other leadership venues. For instance, during a four- to six-month period, supplemental mentorship and “community of practice” forums might be provided such that participants can discuss shared leadership challenges.
- A communication plan includes opportunities to continue discussions about the program with collegiate and administrative partners. Meanwhile, college and division leaders have expressed interest in conveying the program’s availability and merit to encourage up-and-coming leaders to enroll.
How Is It Going?
Program use, completion, and satisfaction are just the starting point for evaluating UI LEAD’s effectiveness. The talent development plan is a straightforward basis by which to measure what actions participants have taken and the resulting organizational improvements. Trained advisors support participants in measuring the financial impact of those results. In addition, advisors interview participants, probing each area of significant impact to estimate UI LEAD’s contribution to outcomes. Such efforts help estimate return on investment in the program.
Data from the repeated 360 evaluations help to measure change in individual leadership behaviors and to gain aggregate data for planning and implementing future leadership development activities. Systematic program evaluation will continue through ongoing communication with university administrators. In addition, program leaders will solicit from participants and their supervisors or faculty administrators suggestions for improvement.
How Do We Make It Better?
The evaluation process has provided essential feedback for building and adjusting the program. We’ve learned, for example, the importance of direct supervisor and faculty administrator involvement in creating and sustaining behavioral change. An environment based on partnership is also essential. While colleges and divisions value their processes for identifying and investing in faculty and staff with high potential, the university seeks to influence deans and administrators in creating transparent nomination processes with clearly understood criteria. By working together, our collegiate and administrative areas will have a better chance of accomplishing our goal of filling the leadership pipeline.
Next steps include building a base of experienced faculty administrators to serve as UI LEAD mentors, creating phase-two leadership activities, and working with others in HR on succession planning initiatives. As talent management evolves, the organizational effectiveness team continues to position itself as a strategic partner with university leaders intent on offering effective training to their successors. Efforts will center on providing direct services where appropriate and, in cases where external services are desired or required, advocating for measurable outcomes to ensure wise fiscal management.
NIKOLE MAC is a consultant in the organizational effectiveness unit at The University of Iowa, Iowa City.
Building Internal Bench Strength
A pilot professional development program establishes itself as a way to improve succession planning.
The debate about whether leaders are born or made has gone on for decades. Whichever the case, Emory University, Atlanta, decided to raise the bar on its efforts to build leadership internally. We allocated significant human and financial resources to launch a program—Excellence Through Leadership (ETL). The program’s primary goal is to formalize senior level leadership training and development for the long-term benefit of the university.
Part of our mission is to demonstrate a commitment to staff and faculty personal and professional development and internal mobility. At the same time, ETL will contribute to the strategic framework for Emory’s future, strengthening performance across the university and establishing a leadership pipeline to improve succession planning.
Initiating the Program
We piloted Excellence Through Leadership during the fall of 2005, with 20 participants in the university’s division of finance and administration. It was targeted at managers of director level and higher, including associate vice presidents of the university, who are considered to be on a path to positions of leadership. A team of senior leaders within the finance and administration division—including the executive vice president of finance and administration, the special assistant to the EVP, the vice president of human resources, the associate vice president of human resources, and the director of learning services—served as the creators of this internal leadership program.
We began our work by reviewing 60 or more leadership competencies and then narrowing those to 32 key competencies that will serve as a foundation for leadership at Emory. Selections were based on Emory’s culture, management philosophy, and leadership expectations. We focused on what Emory needed from its leadership now and in the future. These competencies include such varied skills as personal effectiveness and integrity, interpersonal skills around teamwork, communication and collaboration, people management, business analysis, strategic thinking, and decision making.
After determining the overall framework for ETL, we partnered with Emory’s Goizueta Business School to leverage its proven expertise in executive education. The business school faculty provides the structured learning component of the program, which includes rigorous two- and three-day sessions focused on a range of topics, from a broad overview of administrative strategy to a crash course in financial statements and activity-based accounting. Since much of the curriculum is based on the Goizueta Business School’s executive graduate program, the participants have relevant seminar and classroom experiences on par with the learning that major corporations use in their leadership development programs. The ETL program runs approximately six months, from September through March. It begins with a kickoff by the university president and ends with a formal graduation exercise during which the participants are recognized.
Finding the Funds
The pilot program has been paid for with general finance and administrative funds. However, eventually, each nominating department may be asked to cover the cost of the program—estimated at $7,500—for each of its participating employees. While this is an additional expense in managers’ budgets, we don’t expect any “pushback;” we’ve worked hard to get buy-in and to emphasize the importance of ETL to the sustainability of the university. Furthermore, as the graduates return to their workplaces, their contributions to the university and to their respective work units will add credence to their leadership development, demonstrating the value of the program. In addition, the budget is in line with what leadership development would cost on a per-person basis if conducted externally. With this in-house training model, we also maintain control over curriculum, projects, and outcomes.
Selecting Program Participants
Employees are nominated for ETL by a senior administrator, vice president, or dean, who agrees to “sponsor” their participation. We strive for a diverse group that includes faculty and administrators. The nomination process ensures buy-in from participants and their management, and it establishes the necessary support structure for these leaders in training.
Typically, deans and vice presidents identify potential candidates, who are then presented to a selection committee made up of university executives, deans, and HR staff. This group reviews the nominations and selects a class of 20 participants. Last year, we received 38 nominations, and those not accepted into this class are eligible for nomination during the next cycle. The accepted nominees receive a letter informing them of their selection, and nominators receive a letter confirming their nominee’s admission into the program.
In future sessions, we will consider reserving a few slots per year for new leaders—employees who have joined Emory in the past year. The training will serve as a formal orientation to Emory and to our leadership philosophy.
Building Teams of Leaders
One of the most effective and highly rated parts of our leadership training is the group project. During the latter part of the course, participants are required to undertake significant projects, which reflect situations that staff and faculty would encounter in an academic setting. Exercises that focus on innovation, management development, and energy conservation, for example, can be directly applied to the university’s work. Much of the content is hands-on, with the idea that the project team will make substantive recommendations, which, when implemented, will achieve tangible results.
Recognizing the Rewards
The ETL program is already earning dividends. We have implemented some of the project work completed by the pilot class. We’ve celebrated their efforts during a graduation ceremony, where they were awarded certificates and received leadership books. Participants are telling us that the learning in the program is more relevant and meaningful than other learning they have undertaken. We have recognized leaders informally during the course of the program, and we have observed growth in teamwork and participative engagement.
Evaluating Our Efforts
As we move beyond the pilot phase of the program, we rely on participant feedback as a basis for enhancing our efforts. While we evaluate each class session and faculty member, we also hold focus groups and debrief individuals who complete the program. We also use a Web-based tool to conduct a pre-assessment of participants’ perceived strengths and management needs and a post-assessment of what individuals believe they have gained in personal growth, professional development, and career advancement potential. So far, the reviews have been positive, and strong word-of-mouth marketing encourages further participation. Ongoing evaluation of all program aspects will be critical as we move forward.
One of our obligations is to build internal bench strength. To accomplish this, we’ve gained support from Emory’s top leaders and formalized our training of outstanding performers with leadership potential. Our evolving Excellence Through Leadership initiative is supporting our aim to develop leaders with the competencies that we believe will best serve them and the university in the future.
PETER BARNES is vice president of human resources, Emory University, Atlanta.
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