Innovations That Inspire

Deakin University

Deakin University, Deakin Business School

Category: Cultivating the Business School Leadership Pipeline

Location: Burwood, Victoria, Australia
Accreditation Status: Business

Innovation Title

Future Academic Leaders Program (FALP)

Innovation Statement

The FALP is a set of training and personal development initiatives designed to prepare emerging leaders to grow into, and successfully undertake, leadership roles within the university.

Call to Action

The Deakin Business School observed four common and significant challenges facing new academic leaders, which inspired the creation of the FALP initiative. These challenges are:

  • The challenging, fast-changing environment in which academic institutions and leadership across the world find themselves.
  • The little-to-no equipping of new leaders with proper understanding and skills to carry out leadership duties effectively.
  • A new leader’s lack of understanding of the greater university context within which their position operates, resulting in a disconnect from the broader university system and its global issues.
  • An undue level of stress on new leaders and subsequently their teams, faculty, and the greater university as a result of insufficient leadership training.

FALP was created to intervene and eliminate these problems.

Innovation Description

FALP is a wide-ranging intervention delivered over a period of eight months and composed of the following elements:

  • Nine workshops where the theoretical aspects of leadership are delivered and discussed. The workshop facilitators are experienced leaders and managers in corporate and government sectors and have considerable capabilities in working with the most senior leaders, whether academic or administrative staff, from a wide variety of universities.
  • A personal assessment process, involving appropriate psychometric tests, individual feedback sessions, and group discussions covering desired leadership characteristics and their acquisition.
  • An active learning phase where participants work in groups to undertake a project selected by, and of practical value to, the pro vice chancellor, or dean, of their institution. Such projects will pose a question or problem to be researched, and a solution or options for resolution are to be presented by the group to the dean and executive at the conclusion of the program.
  • Shadowing of a senior academic or administrative staffer for a period of approximately three weeks. The aim is to create a mentor-mentee relationship between the participant and their shadowed leader.
  • Networking opportunities, both formal and informal, both within and outside the university.
  • One-on-one executive coaching. Each participant will be matched with a professional executive coach experienced in working with leaders in the academic environment.
  • Attendance as observers at high-level meetings of the university governance committees when appropriate.

Impact

To date, there have been 60 participants in FALP, resulting in a cohort of emerging leaders prepared for the rigors of academic leadership. Graduates of FALP have a heightened awareness of their own leadership strengths and challenges. Furthermore, as they prepare to assume a formal leadership position, graduates are able to support their current leaders and positively influence peers and team members according to the aspirational goals they articulated and committed to during attendance at FALP.

Faculty executives report a greater sense of community among these emerging academic leaders and a stronger sense of connectedness with both the faculty and the broader university.

An additional benefit of FALP has been that each program has produced at least four projects addressing problems or questions set by the pro vice chancellor or dean. These projects provide either practical resolutions to current dilemmas facing the faculty or the university, or create innovative ways to approach emerging problems in a proactive and preventative way.