Being a Leader at
U of T
Leading people is a significant milestone in person’s career. It’s a rich experience, but also a challenging one.
Leadership at U of T
Leadership starts with self. Everyone in every role at the University can be a leader – it’s a set of behaviours, not just a title. It’s about accountability, self-awareness and continuous learning. How can you lead others if you can’t lead yourself?
For those who aspire to people leadership, it means leading yourself, coaching, nurturing and developing your team’s talent. People leaders are authentic, make their employees feel valued and are aware of the impact of their own behaviours on others. Most importantly, they create inclusive workplaces, where everyone feels they have a voice.
For those who aspire to strategic higher education leadership, it means self and people leadership AND combines strategic thinking, planning, as well as a more sophisticated level of relationship skills (e.g. negotiating, influencing, etc.), along with deep knowledge of the higher education sector.
Every employee should be working with their people leaders to plan their development. This includes development for their current roles to make sure they are meeting role requirements, including as roles evolve due to new systems and processes. In addition to job related skills, every employee should be developing their acumen in each of our organizational competencies. And lastly, there are professional skills such as making presentations, communicating effectively, etc. that one needs as an individual contributor, that take on more importance as you take on more responsibility. All of these can be developed through a variety of offerings: LLC workshops, Linkedin Learning, School of Continuing Studies, outside professional development, job shadowing, mentoring, and on-the-job experience.
People Leadership Development
There are two components to be a people leader. First, and foundational, is the need to guide your team members through the employee lifecycle at the University. This starts with writing a job description, hiring and onboarding, and then moves into the on-going cycle of development, performance feedback, career development, and then finally into off-boarding, through retirement or voluntary departure. It’s important to know how to administer the processes that are part of every employees’ time at the University.
The second component is the behaviours that are at the core of being a people leader: they are the things you do every day when interacting with your team. It means, in both great times and stressful times, we are behaving in ways that builds trust, collaboration, engagement, and most importantly, inclusivity. Every one of your team members needs to feel that their voices are heard, that they are included as part of the team, and they feel that their contributions are valued. This is much easier said than done. For a variety of reasons, it’s hard to always be your best self, and ensuring we are doing nothing to harm the critical element of individual, team and organizational success: the trust between people leader and employee.
The LLC is updating the Manager’s Academy to align it with our employee lifecycle. The Employee Lifecycle Learning program is for new managers. Program streams for existing managers and unionized supervisors will also be available.
We have also created the framework for the People Leader’s program, and will be working with vendors to ensure alignment with our EDI principles, with an estimated pilot launch in late 2022.
Strategic Higher Education Leadership
For those who aspire to senior leadership at the University, the LLC will be building a program that provides a focus on the strategic skills required to be successful in this role. In addition to an in-depth understanding of the higher education sector in general, and U of T in particular, running an organization such as the University, with its size, complexity and role in the world, requires skills that are outward-looking, strategic, and nuanced. Senior leaders steer the University in the direction of the future, which requires an understanding of the broader environment in which we exist.
Developing this program is part of the long-term plan of the LLC. We anticipate partnering with several internal and external experts to create a program that meets the needs of future senior leaders for our unique institution.