Egret nameplate   The magazine of University of Houston-Clear Lake
fall 2012 | volume 19 | number 1

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Creating Leadership
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Creating Leadership

University Program Celebrates 10 Years of Teaching Leaders

Pictured are (l to r) Usha Mathew, Associate Vice President for Finance UHCL Administration and Finance; Ron Klinger, Associate Director of Organizational Development UHCL Human Resources; and Kathy Dupree, Director of Campus Operations UHCL Pearland Campus.

Pictured are (l to r) Usha Mathew, Associate Vice President for Finance UHCL Administration and Finance; Ron Klinger, Associate Director of Organizational Development UHCL Human Resources; and Kathy Dupree, Director of Campus Operations UHCL Pearland Campus.

Inspiring people to work toward a common goal is the essence of good leadership and the inspiration behind UHCL’s Leaders in Action program, which just marked 10 years of fostering the skills for effective leadership.

Created in 2001, the program grew from discussions between Katherine Justice, executive director of human resources, and former Training and Development Specialist Mindy Stallings. The program’s goal was to support and enhance professional growth as well as personal growth for faculty, administrators and staff.

“I am a tour guide,” says Ron Klinger, associate director of organizational development, who has conducted the program since 2004. “This is their leadership journey. It’s my job to provide the tools so that their journey is a successful one.”

To date, 127 participants have completed the course that uses teamwork in small groups to build trust, share experiences and gain a deeper understanding of each person’s leadership strengths.

Participants are nominated, primarily by their supervisor, and then accept that nomination, which enrolls them in the intensive one-year program requiring a commitment to attend all monthly meetings as well as complete additional assignments and readings.

But the rewards are numerous. Ranging from individual strengths assessment, career-building skills, and workplace connections to improve communication and job satisfaction, those rewards also help create more dynamic, collaborative relationships with colleagues who benefit from an experience that reaches beyond the workplace.

“It makes us a better university at every level,” says Klinger.

Built around Insights Discovery, a Jungian-based personality assessment tool widely used and adopted by UHCL, the program promotes individual and organizational effectiveness. Self awareness, awareness of others, ability to adapt and connect to others, and development of usable interpersonal strategies enable participants to communicate more effectively.

The program offers monthly instructive modules starting with Insights Discovery assessment followed by modules that cover leadership strengths, team building, talent and performance management, planning and setting priorities, mentoring and coaching, and managing and leading change.

“The Leaders in Action program was a transformative experience for me,” says Lillian McEnery, associate professor of reading and language arts and a graduate of the program in 2011. “The tools and knowledge I gained have permeated almost every aspect of my life — things like strengths training have helped me more accurately facilitate configurations for our team that create win-win situations. The information about preparing the student of the future has helped me be a better professor and adviser.”

UHCL Pearland Campus Director of Campus Operations Kathy Dupree completed the program in 2006, and says it enhanced not only her career but her personal life.

“The most important concept that I took away from the program was the ability to communicate with individuals based on their personality traits,” says Dupree. “Everyone has a unique way of processing information.”

Instrumental in educating the group on each person’s strengths, Marcus Buckingham’s book “Discover Your Strengths” was “quite an eye opener” for Dupree when she discovered her two top strengths coincide with her extroverted personality.

“I enjoy working with people, helping people, as well as thinking big picture, globally and long term,” says Dupree.

Currently enrolled in the program, Associate Vice President for Finance Usha Mathew shares her lessons in leadership with her employees.

“I am a firm believer in the ‘walk the talk’, and ‘set an example’ style of management,” says Mathew, who updates her team of six employees on what she’s learned so that they can benefit as well. She incorporates her understanding of talent and performance management in her hiring practices and does evaluations on a regular basis rather than once a year.

“I meet individually with every employee to relate, connect and understand what I can do for them to help them learn and grow,” says Mathew. “If you get to know them personally and professionally, you can learn how each employee likes to be appreciated.”

Now Mathew acknowledges employees with lunch out, a personal note or email and public or private praise. She holds monthly staff meetings to focus on what they’ve accomplished as a team. As a result, Mathew says her employees want to hone their own leadership skills through programs like the university’s Stepping Up To Supervisor, which enhances skills of emerging supervisors.

One employee has completed the program and another will participate in the next session.

In her own career, Mathew used her skills when applying for her new position as associate vice president for finance.

“Leaders in Action really helped me boost my self confidence level and communication skills. It taught me to prepare for questions like ‘what can you bring to add value to the institution?’,” says Mathew. “In this new position I will be utilizing everything I learned in Leaders in Action, and I hope to pass on the baton.”

Opportunities for leadership are available for employees as well as students at UHCL.

In addition to the Leaders in Action program for faculty and staff, Stepping Up To Supervisor enhances skills of emerging or new supervisors and managers. It is currently offered each fall and is limited to 10-12 participants.

For students, Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, which is sponsored by the Office of Student Life, provides students with leadership seminars and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Through SLICE students can also attend an annual leadership retreat. SLICE also hosts an annual leadership conference.

• Student Leadership Opportunities

• Faculty and Staff Leadership Training and select Training and Development.

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Last Updated: October 2012
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