Implementing our strategic plan and fulfilling our mission to provide the finest liberal arts education requires a campus culture that supports all employees in connecting to that mission. Workplace excellence includes building a diverse and inclusive campus; professional development; organizational transparency; collaboration; and internal communication.
Colorado College is expanding the skillset and perspective of leaders across the college with a significant investment in leadership development. Ten individuals recently participated in Advanced Leadership in Higher Education. This program is part of a new partnership with Academic Impressions, a professional development organization focused on higher education.
“We are looking across the campus to see who is excelling in their current leadership role and determine how can we further leverage their leadership skills and talents to advance the mission of the college,” says Lisa Brommer, interim director of human resources, who is overseeing the program. “We want to determine who can help college leadership set and accomplish goals as we work together to achieve the initiatives laid out in our strategic plan.”
By the end of this academic year, 30 faculty and staff members will have attended the advanced or fundamentals in leadership programs.
“It helps us to be better individuals and to serve our community better,” says Rochelle Mason, senior associate dean of students, who is participating in the program. “Many of us have some intrinsic qualities that inform our ability to be great leaders; in other instances, we must be coached, mentored, and developed to bring out these qualities. This program focuses on both of these areas. Continued leadership development helps us reframe our experiences as well; challenges become opportunities and failures can teach resilience. We become more reflective and more confident in our abilities. Leadership development says ‘we care about you.’”
Building a sustainable leadership future for the college means “investing in the next level of leadership at the college,” says Brommer of the leadership development program.
“I think every employee would like to work for a good leader,” says Pedro de Araujo, associate dean of the college and associate professor of economics, who participated in the program. “You want to work with someone who has the tools to not only make decisions, and also allows you to grow in your area. Offering these programs is not only helpful for the individual participating but also the direct reports and others they work with.”
Mason says one takeaway from the leadership development program that has made the greatest impact on her day-to-day work has been the emphasis on creating reflective space throughout a busy day. “At first, I thought this would be impossible to do; but I have developed new strategies to manage my workload which allow for this time in my day,” she says. “The other takeaway is that we must solicit feedback on a regular basis, not just during leadership assessments or annual reviews.”
De Araujo also says he’s already employing strategies from the program in his day-to-day work. “Having the tools to be able to articulate clearly what needs to get done, what are the expectations, what do we need to work on, what I can delegate; this program provided tools to articulate that with our direct reports, to allow individuals to take on more responsibilities and grow. That is incredibly valuable.”
Also, the college’s Excel@CC professional development program continues to grow, with 301 individuals participating in sessions throughout the 2017-18 academic year. This year’s program offered 65 sessions with more than 170 hours of training. New additions include the Understanding CC Program, which provides an in-depth look at how each division contributes to the college mission, and the Sense of Place Program, providing opportunities to explore the Pikes Peak Region.
The recent addendum to the strategic plan, “Building on the Block 2.0,” includes a new initiative to connect our faculty and staff to the mission of the college and each other, underscoring CC’s commitment to inclusion, wellness, and professional development. This year, CC joined the JED Campus Project, a commitment to the emotional wellbeing and mental health of its entire campus community. JED Campus schools embark on a multi-year strategic collaboration that not only assesses and enhances the work that is already being done, but also helps create positive, systemic change in the campus community. An initial assessment has been completed; stay tuned for opportunities to participate in this four-year process.