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Davis, California

Saturday, October 16, 2021

University staff encouraged to attend program to develop leadership skills

Approximately 134 university administrators and supervisors participated in a two-day leadership challenge development program this fall, designed to hone skills key in increasing leadership effectiveness.

Participants listened to keynote speakers and received a copy of The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.

“Developing leadership in an organization is crucial to its health and wellness,” Carina Moore, director of Staff Development and Professional Services, said.

The cost of the program totaled slightly more than $1,000 per individual. Staff Development and Professional Services funded approximately half of the cost for each participant, while the remaining investment came from the participants’ departments.

With the current financial state of the university, this seems like an inappropriate way to spend money, said an anonymous participant of The Leadership Challenge.

“The university needs to be made more transparent,” the source said. “I would like to know where each dollar is going.”

The money used to fund the leadership program is not coming from the same pot of money used for student services, Moore said. Staff Development and Professional Services is diligent in reserving funds for programs that they feel will genuinely benefit staff.

Individuals dedicated to applying the skills developed during The Leadership Challenge will strengthen the education at the university and the institution as a whole, Moore said.

One of the best aspects of the program is receiving feedback from one’s staff and co-workers, said Robin Tapia, human resources management analyst for the College of Letters and Sciences. It is important to know how well one is communicating and inspiring others.

“UC Davis is known within the University of California as having one of the most robust staff development programs,” Moore said.

Sonoma Leadership Systems, a private company, which focuses on leadership development, training and coaching for organizations and individuals, hosted the program. UC Davis is the only educational institution that uses Sonoma Leadership Systems, whose clients include, Apple, Chevron, Oakland Police and several banks.

It feels wrong to spend money on this kind of program when people are losing their jobs, said an anonymous source.

“Most of the information about being a better leader was common sense,” the source said. “We could have just read the book they gave us and learned the same techniques for being a better leader without having to pay someone thousands of dollars.”

Not every individual is a right match for the program, Moore said. Some people find it difficult to hear constructive criticism of their work performance. However, feedback was generally positive.

While program attendance was optional, department managers were able to recommend the program to any staff members they felt would benefit from the experience.

When Tapia heard two more sessions were being organized later this month, she recommended the program to a number of individuals in her department.

“We need to continue investing in the staff here and attracting talented individuals for the future,” Moore said.

KATIE LEVERONI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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