Leaders aren’t born so much as they are built and shaped through experience, skill development, and adaptation.
As John F. Kennedy put it, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
The Provost’s Leadership Academy (PLA) builds on these principles to prepare faculty members for leadership roles at WSU. The program reaps benefits for everyone involved, grooming the next generation of leaders for the University, and providing pathways for faculty members to advance their careers.
Participants are nominated by their respective college’s leadership and engage in programming from October through April. The PLA begins with a live, immersive fall retreat, kicking off the program that includes: 1) personal assessment focused on leadership and well-being; 2) three online modules (exploring and applying values-based decision making, building consensus, and navigating conflict); 3) university meetings addressing leadership styles, university budget, and connections with deans, the Provost, and the President; 4) individual leadership projects to hone leadership skills and knowledge and apply them in a meaningful context documented with a mid-term report, final report, and oral presentation; 5) concluding reception with PLA alumni; and 6) formal certificates upon completion.
The sixth PLA cohort wrapped up programming in Spring 2017 and, with a record 37 graduates, WSU looks forward to the promise of excellent leadership from this group. Assessment of this cohort on “Authentic Leadership,” “Well-being,” and “Psychological flexibility,” showed significant differences between measurements assessed before and after PLA programming. Qualitative feedback from participants is also encouraging.
But does the PLA truly produce leaders? Of 166 PLA graduates over six years, more than half are currently in formal leadership positions at WSU, and all but two of the participants remain at the University. Participation does not guarantee or necessitate advancement to a formal leadership role, as other graduates have also become important informal leaders within their academic units and various entities across the university. The overarching goal is to recognize potential and create a community of leaders across WSU.
Kelly Ward, Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Recognition, is working with Denise Yost, Director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership, to further improve the PLA programming, and 2017-18 promises to be another outstanding year. Around 30 faculty members will begin their journeys in the program this month.
For more information on the PLA, visit provost.wsu.edu/provosts-leadership-academy/.