York College of Pennsylvania Builds Up IT Staff at All Levels

As campus technologies evolve, so do the skill sets required to effectively lead, manage and implement strategic goals. 

That’s why ongoing leadership development is a vital component to the success of IT departments in higher education. Even as lean staffing and limited budgets stretch institutions thin, a flourishing leadership program can — and should — happen.

Organizations may overlook the importance of investing in employee leadership skills, but it’s an effective way to motivate staff to take initiative regardless of their position. 

Because of this and other benefits, York College of Pennsylvania CIO Ilya Yakovlev saw an opportunity in early 2017 to establish a leadership program for the newly formed Library and Technology Services department. The committee that he convened succeeded in building a program that is cost-effective, inclusive and consistent.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how chief innovation officers are effecting change on campus.

College Gets Creative to Deliver Low-Cost Leadership Training

At the outset, our leadership development committee balanced needs versus costs to maximize professional development while staying within budget. For starters, the committee partnered with a third-party consulting firm to devise streamlined and customized training. 

The resulting high-intensity course was presented to nearly half of the LTS staff, with the goal of developing targeted skill sets.

We achieved cost savings by reducing the duration of the course and the number of participants, yet we ensured that this formalized leadership training was provided to those who would benefit most. This initial coursework built the pillars on which upcoming sessions rested.

Subsequent sessions were open to everyone in LTS, and demand skyrocketed. We continued to keep costs low by tapping internal resources and outreach to other campus departments

In one session, for example, attendees participated in individual skills assessments in partnership with the YCP Leadership Development Center. In another instance, we invited model leaders from across campus to present their leadership journeys. These budget-taming steps not only helped get the program off the ground, but also provided quality training.

Peer Coaching Builds Accountability for IT Staff

As YCP invested its time, money and effort to develop staff members into leaders, the challenge became how to maintain momentum by keeping everyone focused on refining their leadership skills. 

The leadership program had blossomed in the LTS department, in part, because of Yakolev, the program’s champion. Members of the senior administrative staff further validated those efforts, with some serving as panel members and trainers for a leadership journey series

We offered sessions on a regular basis each semester, and the consistent engagement proved that staff members valued the program and took it seriously.

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