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Building a strong foundation of leadership

  • Human Resources Foundational Leadership Program
    Kate Kittner and Viet Tran talk about their experiences in taking the Queen's Foundational Leadership Program during the graduation ceremony.
  • Human Resources Foundational Leadership Program
    Participants in the Queen's Foundational Leadership Program speaks with sponsors and visitors about their final presentations at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
  • Human Resources Foundational Leadership Program
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf speaks to the latest cohort of the Queen's Foundational Leadership Program during the graduation ceremony.

When Kate Kittner signed up for the Queen’s Foundational Leadership Program offered by Human Resources, she was hoping to build upon her managerial skillset and to enhance those skills through formal training and interaction with others from across the university.

Reflecting as she completed the program, that’s exactly what she got, she says.

The comprehensive program helps managers at Queen’s gain advanced training in leadership development including best practices in management, communication and coaching skills, and strengthening employee engagement. Gaining skills through 14 classroom sessions, the participants then form teams and apply this knowledge as they develop a project that supports an aspect of the university’s strategic framework.

The groups presented their final projects during a graduation event at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

A key element of the program is the use of self-reflection, something that Kittner found very useful.

“I gained a better understanding of my strengths and how to leverage those, but also how to improve my weaker areas. Through self-reflection on my weaknesses, I can focus in on how to do things differently,” says Kittner, Office Manager of Professional Development & Educational Scholarship at the Faculty of Health Sciences. “It’s not a massive change, but a different way of approaching things depending on who you are working with. It is meeting them in a more comfortable, collaborative way, resulting in successful working relationships. It really makes you think about what you bring to the team, good and bad, and how to adapt your approach to teamwork.”

Viet Tran, Mechanical Engineer at Physical Plant Services, heard about the Queen’s Foundational Leadership Program from colleagues who had taken it previously and thought that it would help him further develop his skills and provide a valuable networking opportunity.

“I consistently try to improve myself and the program was definitely a great opportunity to assist us in growing as leaders, especially the first part when we completed numerous self-assessments,” he says. “I also liked the group component, the Action Learning Project. I had a similar experience in an MBA program. It’s a good opportunity to take the things that you’ve learned in the beginning and apply them at the end.”

This year’s Action Learning Projects touched upon an array of topics including academic advising, employee recruitment, institutional data, and support for students with autism spectrum disorder.

The Queen’s Foundational Leadership Program has been running for 10 years now and over that time Shannon Hill, Learning and Development Specialist, Human Resources, has seen the course evolve and improve with each cohort. Looking over the long term, Hill says that the status of the program has continued to grow and meet the needs of the participants while at the same time creating an extensive network across the institution.

“We’re seeing some good momentum in terms of numbers of graduates. You talk about the tipping point when enough managers have been involved in this program and a common language, understanding and competency level is achieved. I think the main thing is the camaraderie, the network they develop and continue to grow and sustain themselves over years, so that’s been nice to see,” Hill says, adding that past graduates return for the closing event to support their colleagues. “You’re really seeing that reputation of the program grow and the results we’re seeing from it are quite pervasive across our professional managerial group at Queen’s.”

Announced at the final event is that the office of the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) will formally review all the projects and provide support for those meeting the university’s priorities.

Another new development, Hill adds, is the creation of the Foundational Leadership Alumni Group, which will meet for the first time on June 20. This meeting will bring together past participants in the program to discuss the direction for the new group.

“This is really going to formalize that community of practice, that professional network for graduates of the program of the last 10 years,” Hill says.

The next cohort is scheduled to start January 2020 with applications being accepted December 2019.

Visit the Human Resources website to learn more about the Queen’s Foundational Leadership Program.