Leadership development programs shape the University

Leadership development programs shape the University

By Brittney Bomnin Garcia and Janisse Patino-Martinez

Leadership development programs shape the University

By Brittney Bomnin Garcia and Janisse Patino-Martinez
Employees reflect on their experiences during two professional development programs that aim to support leaders.

Never suspecting a global pandemic was around the corner, professional development programs hosted by Human Resources Talent and Organizational Development (TOD) challenged participants to take risks, disrupt old patterns, and be open to new ways of thinking, leading, and transforming lives.

More than a year after beginning Series 14 of the Essentials of Leadership—a five-month professional development program that aims to support University leaders in their role as coaches and mentors—61 employees from the Coral Gables and Medical campuses gathered online to celebrate their achievements in a graduation ceremony.  The cohort joined more than 800 University leaders who have successfully completed the program. In March 2020, the Series 14 was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic two months after it was launched. With the support of their management sponsors and HR’s TOD team, the participants resumed the previously in-person meetings virtuallylearning to understand their leadership style, becoming self-aware, and implementing new leadership skills.

“This program provides the most effective tools to manage a team and allows you to see your own behaviors and practices, areas of opportunities, and areas of strength,” said Lina Arango, director of business process analytics for the enterprise business solutions team. Arango states that a leader is someone who is able to keep a team engaged and challenged. “Leadership is less about supervision and more about trust and enabling,” she said. “As a result of the program, I'm actively listening to each team member and observing their reactions and behaviors in more detail than before, so that I can tailor my approach with each individual.”

For Isaiah McCoy, senior budget manager for medical finance, the program was an uplifting and empowering experience. “I feel like I now have the tools to keep developing myself as a leader in a way that is values-driven and authentic,” he said. “I would wholeheartedly recommend considering the program,” he added. “You will learn so much about yourself and the University's mission and values and meet great people along the way.” 

Similarly, providing multiple layers of development experiences, a group of 26 University leaders recently graduated from the LEADership Development Program (LEAD), becoming the first cohort of a top senior-level leadership development program. Nominated by their executive leaders, participants gained a greater insight into their personal leadership style and improved their leadership effectiveness to maximize the success of their teams and the organization. As a group, the 26 graduates oversee 409 direct reports and a total of 1,800 employees. A second cohort of LEAD is scheduled to begin in the fall.

During the virtual graduation ceremonies, which took place on June 2, President Julio Frenk shared his thoughts on leading through challenging times. “At the U, we have amazing leaders like each of you who care about the direction of the organization and commit to leading their teams towards achieving our strategic goals,” Frenk noted. “As leaders, we all have a challenging role, now more than ever, and, at the same time, a rewarding one. This program is not the end of your journey. In fact, this is only the beginning.”

It’s really amazing to think about all of the lives that have been impacted by those participating in these types of leadership programs,” said Mary Harper Hagan, vice president of Human Resources. “My wish for you throughout this experience is that you gained a network of colleagues upon whom you can rely well beyond this graduation day. That’s the lasting promise of a program like this that brings people together that normally would never have the opportunity to engage so deeply.”

Ben Kirtman, director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, reflected on LEAD. “There were some critical takeaways that I have put into practice,” Kirtman explained. “I learned how to empower my team, create a shared vision, and leverage a productive work environment to enhance morale amongst our teams.”

"Only a great leader is one that truly leads with a passion for a cause that is bigger than they are,” shared Addy Villanueva, police sergeant, University of Miami Police Department. “The program taught me the importance of leading with courage, honesty, empathy, and respect, especially during difficult times,” she added. Villanueva said that she has been reinspired to perform at her highest level and to motivate her team members by listening to them effectively and setting a positive example for her unit to be proud of and to follow.

The development program offered Ryan Holmes, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, an opportunity to look at himself and the institution through multiple lenses. “It helped me to focus on my leadership styles and those of others and remember the importance of the collaboration with various—and integral—campus partners. LEAD offered and refined skills toward overall professional development and self-awareness,” he said.

Visit learn-inspire.hr.miami.edu to get more information about professional development opportunities available to University employees.