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UM System Invests in Faculty through Leadership Development Program

The University of Missouri System approaches faculty leadership strategically and holistically with its annual Leadership Development Program.

The Leadership Development Program (LDP) seeks to equip faculty and administrators throughout the UM System as problem-solvers on their individual campuses. Program participants develop these skills through activities designed to increase the participants's understanding of their own leadership and learning style, as well as that of others.

“I’m learning a lot not only about myself, but also myself as a leader,” Debbie Smith, chair of the sociology department at UMKC, said. “We are learning about our own personal leadership styles and the many different leadership styles that exist.”

The LDP is a year-long program for faculty members from all four campuses, who are nominated to participate by their respective deans. Many of the participants already hold leadership positions, such as department chair.

One of the most eye-opening exercises for faculty participants is the comprehensive 360-degree assessment, which is completed anonymously by co-workers they currently supervise, Smith said.  “It allows you to very blatantly see what others think your strengths and weaknesses are."

Other key components of the program include personality tests, self-assessments, a retreat hosted in Columbia, which was held September 17 for this year’s program, and follow-up assessments throughout the year evaluating faculty’s progress.

UM provides leadership development opportunities for faculty such as the LDP in order to build and enforce the system’s mission.

“Leadership development is important to the discovery aspect of our mission,” UM System President Tim Wolfe said. “It is our mission that creates strategies and our strategies that determine priorities.”

Wolfe also said programs like the LDP are important in creating leaders within the UM System who are willing to stand on principle.

“The fact that the university is so dedicated to programs like this one is exciting because it truly lets us invest in our staff in order to build upon one of our strategic priorities – to attract and retain the best people,” Wolfe said.

Another important aim of the LDP is to bring faculty from all four campuses together to engage in critical leadership problem-solving.

“Meeting faculty from other universities is critical because it creates community across the system,” Smith said. “And it’s encouraging to have the system willing to invest resources in us as faculty.”