By Pushya Jataprolu '16
ChiBus congratulated Chris Collins, the Associate Dean for Leadership Development for the Full Time MBA Program as he completes one year in his latest role. With pictures of his family and facilitators of the years past, in his office, Chris wants to talk more about the LEAD office and the work than his year long role.
[ChiBus] How was the first year being Associate Dean?
[Chris Collins] It’s been a really exciting time. This school is an amazing place to be and it has been a wonderful position to have a slightly broader impact here.
[CB] What is the one thing you absolutely wanted to keep intact from the years before?
[CC] The self-awareness component in LEAD is really powerful. It wasn’t always the case though. 10 years ago, orientation was about what skills we can teach you to get the download of good leadership - definitive ways to listen and of giving feedback. There are several problems with that. It is not realistic to expect the student’s skill set to change in that class, spending on average 15min per skill. And there isn’t really one way to do things. LEAD now provides the opportunity to work through different cultural and professional frames and appraise where students are on a set of leadership centric skills like communication and workstyle. This heightens sensitivity and awareness, and empowers students to more fully consider who they want to become as leaders and also to use the remainder of their time at Booth to make progress in becoming that person.
[CB] What initial thoughts for changes did you have for the program?
[CC] The title of our office has two key words Leadership and Development. The leadership component of what we do is often what is most front and center when people think of us. And the centrality of leadership in our work shouldn’t and won’t change. But the message of development sometimes gets lost. However, I’m interested in bringing the development component of what we do more to fore, causing a rebalance. Students come to Booth in search of transformation and personal change. I believe we’re one of the areas in Booth best prepared to help students achieve forward momentum in realizing their desires for personal growth.
Chris, with his daughter Maeve
[CB] What do you envision for the program going forward and how is it panning out?
[CC] Our summer planning emphasized two new initiatives among others, that we believe help to facilitate development as a leader. We’ve assembled a set of experiences under the program title of “Practicum” where students are invited to complete a set of activities that are simultaneously designed to forward their development on a given topic and showcase a background method to be able to do that again in the future. We’re in the first quarter of the program, and so far student feedback has been very positive. About 10% of the second year class has elected to participate.
Another is in fact, an idea that originated from a GBC conversation - the 360 feedback opportunity for small teams. We are working with Student Life to make this a tool for students to learn from the feedback as an ongoing process.
This is of course, apart from the regular iterative improvements and re-evaluation of what we do in the LEAD program. I think we are blessed with the resource of students every year who have ideas of how it could be better and we channel their energies to make those improvements.
[CB] Is there a success metric you’re aiming for, to measure net present value of LEAD for the students? What metric would you wish to develop?
[CC] The typical success metrics for any class are, one - what was student response in terms of evaluation and two - a final test on the degree to which they have mastered the material. I think the evaluations are an index of meaningfulness. On evaluations, the use value of the content and skills from LEAD stand very high, especially given that 98% of the class responds to it. The second metric with final tests, does not really tell you whether students have retained the material and use it in future. Just like any course at any university, we have this challenge. But there were years when we gathered information from students’ reflection in the synthesis session. Most students gain either new understanding or a new depth of understanding of certain aspects about their leadership skills.
Our hope is that LEAD helps catalyze thoughts and action around personal leadership development. I am interested in gauging the effort factor - how people are using this catalyzing effect and working on their respective journeys. I don’t think we’re there yet on this metric.
Pushya is the People Editor at ChiBus and a Kapnick facilitator.