The first group of Carleton Leader participants have completed the program and it’s unanimous: the experience was transformational.
The first Carleton Leader cohort (of the program’s three streams) was made up of 18 faculty and staff from across campus, representing a variety of areas and levels of responsibility. The participants began the inititative in November and some now admit that, at the time, they weren’t sure what to expect.
But six months later that initial uncertainty has morphed into complete conversion.
“This is a long-term commitment on the part of the university and that the university is really serious about investing in the people who are here,” says Katherine Graham, senior advisor to the Provost and a member of the Carleton Leader Development Team.
“This is an opportunity for people to reflect, to expand their understanding of what leadership is, to experience doing leadership with peers from across the university. It’s really important for us as an institution because we are living in increasingly perilous times, and we have to be on the ball. We have to have people who can pick up the ball and carry it to the end of the field.”
On May 21, more than 100 people attended a “landing” event marking the end of the first cohort’s formal participation in the program. President Roseann O’Reilly Runte, all the deans and other Carleton Leader participants from other cohorts were on hand to hear three presentations that identified problems facing the university and possible ways to address those issues.
Jennifer Brenning, director of Athletics, says Carleton Leader, was “an amazing journey.”
“Collaborating and working with faculty and professional service staff that I hadn’t normally worked with was an incredible experience. I think this is going to be something that is great for Carleton,” Brenning says, whose group examined the issue of how to better showcase Carleton’s research and researchers.
“My real lesson here was collaboration and consultation and coming together; faculty as well as professional services. We can’t do it in isolation, we have to do this together and we can overcome these problems, one focused initiative at a time.
“I think going into it, I had apprehension, I wasn’t too sure. I’ve been in my career for 25 years. I didn’t know if I could learn anything and I learned a tremendous amount.”
Modelled on the Sheffield Leader running out of the U.K.-based university, Carleton Leader aims to develop the university’s leadership from the ground up, through networks of people from across the institution. Since the launch in November, the three cohorts of the program have launched and planning for the second round of participation is now underway.
Associate Prof. Vince Kazmierski called Carleton Leader “transformative” and credited it with giving him a better understanding of some of the issues facing the institution.
“It’s really helped me get a sense that, yes, I have my regular things that I do that are important to the university, but there are other ways I can kind of contribute and that are meaningful and that will have an impact,” says Kazmierski, who is in the department of law.
“One of the important things about the Carleton Leader program is that it’s not a breeding ground for people to go into senior administrative roles per se. It’s to try and help everybody get a better sense of how they can exercise leadership in their everyday roles.”
Jen Sugar, assistant director of Admission Services, says that Carleton Leader has given her a sense hope and enthusiasm when it comes to tackling some of the big issues that emerge on campus.
“When you participate in something like this and you have faculty-staff collaboration and you talk about problems and ways to move the needle and positive ways to influence things, it’s really encouraging,” she says.
“I’ve been here since 1996, and it’s great to look around and see that there’s this community of people who love Carleton and who feel about Carleton the way that I do, and who are interested in working together to move the university forward.”
As the Carleton Leader evolves and grows, there will be opportunities for more people to participate, adds Graham.
“There will be opportunities in the future for people to participate in those offerings, but also to join in in some of the activities associated with Carleton Leader. So, it’s not a club, it’s about a whole institution and we’re hoping that the ripple effects of this will be positive just in the way we do business here at Carleton,” added Graham.
And the word is out about the unique approach Carleton is taking the field of leadership development, she says.
“This is really a Carleton program. To the best of my information, we are being watched by other universities to see how this goes and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some requests for a little bit more information on what we’re doing and what impact it’s had.”