Building a Program

Building a Program

A proven factor in the success of many organizations is internal leadership development. This is especially true for universities, where fully understanding the intricacies of shared governance, the values of the academic mission and the cultural nuances of the campus are necessary. Before creating a leadership program, it is important to have a clear vision and goals for future institutional leaders - what are the most important skills they need to have to make the most significant contributions? Then consider the components of the program, including how they will be delivered and by whom.

First steps include: The name of the program; who will create and deliver the programming; the program format; the learning modalities, and potential delivery models.

  • Program Naming
  • What should the program be called?

    The name of the program is more than simple semantics. The success of the program could be undermined with the wrong name or description! Compared with staff, faculty do not typically appreciate receiving “training.” Nor do they usually react positively to “mandatory” activities. Another turn-off can be the use of “off the shelf” programs that have a corporate feel to them.

    Potential solutions:
      ■ Use of terms such as ‘development,’ ‘program,’ ‘workshop,’ or ‘academy’
      ■ Participants as ‘fellows’
      ■ Few acronyms
      ■ Opportunities to opt-in rather than requirements to participate
  • Creating and Delivering the Program
  • Who Will Create and Deliver the Programming?

    There are different ways to design and build an effective program. While some campuses have collaborated with existing organizations, such as CORO, pre-defined “out of the box” programs do not always work for all needs, or must be combined with other resources to be the most effective.


      ■ Existing organizations or businesses have proven track records for successful program development and delivery, but may not be adapted to faculty (or faculty at UC).
      ■ Some topics may be best created and delivered by high-level faculty administrators with strong reputations among the faculty, either because they are the most knowledgeable or because they have the respect of the faculty.
      ■ Some skills are broad enough that an outside organization may be the best equipped to provide the information, adapted for an academic audience.
  • Program Format
  • What Should the Program Format Be?

    The program format can vary based on learning objectives, topical content, and available resources. Common program formats include:

      ■ Fully-structured program with clear eligibility and mandatory participant requirements (for example, a cohort model where a group of faculty participate together in a series of sessions with clear goals and outcomes).
      ■ Relaxed structure with developed learning modules allowing faculty to participate on an ad-hoc basis - a “Just in Time” learning approach (for example, a website with available online courses or topics that can be reviewed at any time, or combined to demonstrate competency).
      ■ Hybrid model - structured program with set learning modules and participation criteria, however greater flexibility built-in to completion timeline (for example, a series of brown bag sessions over the course of an academic year along with the availability of online courses or topics to consider).
  • Learning Modalities and Delivery Models
  • What is the best way to convey the curriculum?

    The answer may vary by topic. A module on interpersonal skills lends itself to interaction and role-play, while institutional fundamentals (or “UC 101”) may be suited to presentations, readings, and discussion or Q&A. Below is a list of common modalities and delivery approaches for leadership development programs.

      ■ Instructor-led
        ▪ Large group vs small group

      ■ Online Learning
        ▪ Pre- and post-learning assessment
        ▪ Optional learning opportunities
        ▪ Open to invited faculty
        ▪ vs open to all faculty

      ■ Ad-hoc Workshops
        ▪ Separate from program, covering particular one-time topics
        ▪ Offered to invited faculty vs offered through year to all faculty

      ■ Faculty panels
        ▪ Delivery of particular topics
        ▪ Q&A

      ■ Shadowing Current Leaders
        ▪ One-on-one vs small group
      ■ One time vs long-term (ie., quarter, semester)

    Delivery Approaches
      ■ Experiential Learning (projects, in-person practicing of skills, etc.)
      ■ Reading and Videos
      ■ Reflective Writings
      ■ Practice Exercises and Scenarios
      ■ Leader Interviews
      ■ Logic Studies
      ■ Group Projects
  • Experience Level of Participants
  • How should the programming be responsive to participants with different levels of experience and exposure?

    Faculty who are selected to participate in leadership development programming will have various amounts of exposure to other programming as well as different levels of experience with leadership. This should be informative but not determinative!

    Faculty in the lab-based disciplines will likely have expertise running a lab group, including managing personnel, budgeting and finance, hiring and mentoring, running meetings, etc. But serving in an administrative leadership position requires a different way of thinking and a different application of similar skills (as well as additional knowledge). For example, decision-making may be unilateral in a lab setting but require extensive collaboration and stakeholder input in a campus administrative role.

    Similarly, some participants will likely have served in leadership roles already, such as directing a research center or serving as a department chair. They may still highly value and benefit from participating in developing their knowledge and skills more fully.

    Most programs include a wide variety of learning topics, some of which will be new to participants and some of which will be a review or will serve as a “refresher” for some individuals. The full development of most new skills takes multiple opportunities for exposure and practice. Programming should meet participants where they’re at to the extent possible, acknowledging differences.


Next – Program Considerations