Whether you’ve worked at UTHealth for 20 days or 20 years, there are programs to enhance and broaden your leadership skills.
The Leadership Institutes at UTHealth are three leadership programs designed to meet the needs of employees at all stages of their career.
The Women in Leadership Series invites a speaker to share her story to inspire women from across the institution. The lecture-style sessions are open to men as well, but have a focus on inspiring women into leadership.
“Studies show that often there are significant advantages in promoting a qualified leader from within versus hiring an external candidate,” said Eric Fernette, vice president and chief human resources officer at UTHealth. “With our maturing workforce, it’s imperative for us to do a better job in building the internal workforce and leaders to meet the future needs of our university.”
These two Leadership Institutes are similar in structure and are geared toward two sets of leaders: those who are getting into leadership roles for the first time and established leaders who are looking to improve skills. Participation in either institute’s programs includes an application process, and requires approval by a department head for participation.
The Executive Leadership Institute serves as a more in-depth program that spans six weeks, and the Emerging Leaders spans four weeks. Each meets once a week for a majority of the day, and both include assessments on the participants’ leadership styles. Prior to enrolling in the program, participants fill out an assessment, and they conclude with an assignment that is presented during the last session.
The leadership programs began in 2016, and were inspired by UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, Fernette said.
“While discussing leadership with Dr. Colasurdo, he asked me the question, ‘What would it take to build a first-class leadership program?’ After discussing options, he gave me the charge to design an internal set of programs that would build sustained leadership capacity across UTHealth,” Fernette said.
Fernette brought on Julianne Cenac, PhD, director of learning and development, to spearhead the project. Her background includes leadership development and research in leadership complexity, leader behavioral repertoire, and emergence. She and a dedicated team developed the programming from the ground up.
“An off-the-shelf program wouldn’t necessarily have worked here,” Cenac said. “This is an academic medical institution, so you can’t just bring in any assessment instrument or speaker. We were intentional in identifying where the needs were, and putting that through a cultural filter to see how we can formulate methods and resources that would work here.”
The frequency of the leadership institutes was also intentional.
“We could have done a shorter, intensive program, but that doesn’t serve the business needs,” Cenac said. “We wanted people to still be able to do their jobs while going through the program. As adult learners tell you, they have to experience what they learn. You have to give them information and time to experience it in their teams and clinics, and have thoughts, even confusion, or success around it. Then, come back and talk about it and make adjustments. The program is designed with those attributes built in.”
Women in Leadership Series
The Women in Leadership Series, currently in its third year, was created to further cultivate skills in women. Open to all students, faculty, and staff of any gender, there are typically six 45-minute lectures in the yearlong series, followed by a catered reception.
“We try to get people who can tell their story of leadership in a way that encourages women,” said Valerie Christian-Hainley, senior leadership development program manager. “That is what it is about – to encourage women within the university at all levels that they are leaders. One of the things we teach in the leadership institutes is that title does not make you a leader. You can lead from wherever you are.”
The series is now one of the most well-attended at UTHealth.
“The participation rate for us is huge along with the quality of the program, and the support of the women in the institution who participate in the series,” Fernette said. “Dr. Colasurdo, Kevin Dillon, and Dr. Michael Blackburn are the ones who continue to allow us to support Dr. Cenac’s outstanding program. They understand that an investment has to be made to develop women leaders and to enable us to grow the institution.”
UTHealth works to bring in speakers that will appeal to the demographics of the university, which are as diverse as the city of Houston.
“We have clinicians, administration, residents, researchers, and students. All levels are coming to Women in Leadership and watching it on livestream,” Cenac said. “The question then becomes, ‘How do you cater a message of interest for that spectrum of an audience?’ We try to do it carefully by adding a mix of academic speakers as well as non-academic speakers, whose examples, stories, and techniques can translate across our multiple audiences. We want to cast a wide net. For the women it reinforces sound leadership principles, and for the men we hope it does the same, as well as provides a different perspective, or shares insights they may not have known about the challenges women leaders face.”
The topics are also a way to start a conversation, and a catered reception following the lecture helps people network.
“What we are really striving for are the discussions that take place after,” Cenac said. “That is how you move the needle. You don’t change behavior unless you change hearts and minds.”
The next Women in Leadership Series seminar will feature Megan Cleghorn, JD, MBA, on Thursday, Feb. 21.
The seminar will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a reception and hors d’oeuvres from 12:30 to 1 p.m., in the Fayez S. Sarofim Research Building, 1825 Pressler St.
Emerging Leaders Institute
The Emerging Leaders Institute is aimed at cultivating new leaders within UTHealth. It’s a four-week program held twice a year.
The program includes a personal leadership assessment as well as sessions of transitioning into leadership thinking, effective communication styles, managing conflict, and effective leadership practice.
The program comes with a cost, which is paid by the participant’s department. Because of that, attendees must be sponsored and be approved to enter into the program. A pre-assessment of leadership skills and styles is also required.
The upcoming series will run weekly from March 26 through April 16 at Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main St. Employees interested in participating can register on the institute’s webpage.
- Fill out the application to the program through the program’s webpage.
- Upon acceptance to the program, the Learning and Development team will request approval from the applicant’s manager.
- After approval is received, the applicant will be notified via email enrollment.
Executive Leaders Institute
The Executive Leader Institute is a six-week program held once a year. It’s aimed at those who already have leadership experience and are looking to grow their skills.
The program requires a pre-assessment, which will help determine what kind of leadership characteristics the applicant has. There is also an emotional intelligence test.
Christian-Hainley said one of the most valuable assets of the program is the opportunities it presents.
“They have time to talk and compare notes on how they would handle different situations,” she said. “A comment we hear frequently is ‘I didn’t know other people had these issues too.’ Participants get to hear how other people handle issues. To me that’s the beauty of the program.”
It comes with a fee, which is paid by the applicant’s department. Therefore, approval is required to attend.
The Executive Leadership Institute will accept new applicants in the fall. Information on the next institute will be posted on its webpage.