Can leadership be cultivated?
Yes, it can, say participants in the campus Leadership
| 28 January 2004
Now entering its fifth year, the Leadership Development Program (LDP) brings together staff who have leadership responsibilities (ranging from project management to oversight of a unit or department) to work with high-level campus sponsors, consultants, and mentors.
Staff participants receive career coaching as well as assessment of and feedback on their leadership practices during the initial months of each year’s program. Afterward, they break into teams to evaluate, analyze, and make recommendations on high-impact projects proposed by campus leaders, culminating in presentations to senior campus sponsors.
The Office of Human Resources and Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell sponsor LDP. A campuswide committee screens applicants and selects participants.
The 2003 LDP participants analyzed and reported on diverse issues. One group investigated how to develop better policy access and coordination at the university, basing their recommendations on interviews with campus policy makers and best practices at other universities.
Another project team focused on how to coordinate and improve management practices at such campus gathering places as the Chávez Student Center, Eshelman Hall, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union to create a more active, vibrant university center that would attract students, faculty, and staff.
A third team researched ePortfolios: online vehicles that enable students to access their academic records and coursework, build résumés and work toward professional goals, and access advising and academic planning. The group interviewed experts from other universities where ePortfolios have been implemented, attended relevant educational conferences, and interviewed core constituents on campus (including students, faculty, and staff) to determine whether ePortfolios should be offered at Berkeley.
On average, participants spent five hours a week on the assessment stage of the program, then 10 hours or more once the projects began in earnest.
“LDP was intense, overwhelming, and wonderful,” says Maxine Carter, a member of the student union work group and a trust services analyst in the planned giving office of University Relations.
Russell Fastabend, who coordinates large-group math and science programs for school-age students at Lawrence Hall of Science, urged his supervisor to apply to LDP two years ago. Though his boss didn’t take his suggestion, Fastabend applied himself.
“This is a wonderful network and a great support group — especially for leadership and management issues,” he says. Fastabend also found that the program drew him down regularly from the Lawrence Hall’s lofty location, making him feel more connected to the campus.
Midway through the program last year, Dishler solicited feedback from the participants’ supervisors. More than half of the 24 supervisors responded, reporting that their employees were taking more initiative, using new skills on the job, and asking for increased responsibilities.
Findings reach enthusiastic ears
“The projects are now attracting higher-level sponsors,” reports Dishler. “The program provides individual professional development for the participants as well as a campus benefit from the project work, new networks that have been formed, and leaders capable of serving on university committees,” she says.
Though the difficulty and cost of implementing the 2003 LDP projects varies greatly, the campus’s sponsors were all enthusiastic about the LDP groups’ findings. One of the sponsors of the policy-access project, Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance and CFO James Hyatt, has requested that the group continue to serve as consultants to the Policy Controls Committee.
“Jack McCredie [Associate Vice Chancellor – Information Technology] was very pleased with the recommendations made by the ePortfolio group,” says Dishler. An expensive and complex undertaking, the project would have to be weighed against other pending campus technology projects, she notes, but potentially could be implemented using a staggered plan.
To revitalize the “moribund student union,” as Chancellor Berdahl characterized it on Jan. 21 in his brief address to the 2003 LDP graduates, that work group recommended creating an advisory board of directors made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Other strategies included involving students in all phases of planning and developing “a clear vision and mission” for the student center before proceeding with design and architectural plans.
Preparations have already begun for the 2004-05 Leadership Development Project. “People are realizing the value of this program to the organization,” says Dishler. With a significant percentage of the most senior management on campus nearing retirement in the next five to ten years, the university will be facing “a tremendous brain drain,” she says, “and have a number of critical positions to fill.” LDP, suggests Dishler, offers one solution. “We’re not in a position to hire all that talent — it’s too expensive — so we have to grow it internally. “
Information about the 2004-05 Leadership Development Program will be available soon at hrweb.berkeley.edu/.