Essential Leadership Skills for Department Chairs

Chicago, IL | June 10, 2024 8:30 am CT - June 11, 2024 4:00 pm CT

Registrant Access Only

This training will not be available asynchronously.

Essential Leadership Skills for Department Chairs

Chicago, IL | June 10, 2024 8:30 am CT - June 11, 2024 4:00 pm CT

Explore how you can enable the engagement, collaboration, and success of your faculty and staff.


Leading as an academic department chair is difficult under the best of circumstances. You must balance the competing interests of faculty and administration and stretch limited resources, all while maintaining your own scholarship and teaching loads. Add to this the uncertainty and complexity of leading through an ever-changing higher ed landscape, and it becomes clear that the current environment can test even the most seasoned leaders. 

Join us in person for this essential two-day conference designed specifically to help academic department chairs discover or reconnect with the most effective ways to lead in a variety of situations and circumstances. These are the themes for each day of the conference:  

Day One: You’ll begin by reflecting on your approach to leadership, where you’ll explore ways to enhance your overall leadership effectiveness. You’ll also examine how your position of influence can support and enable the engagement, collaboration, and, ultimately, the success of your faculty and staff.  

Day Two: You will be asked to explore one of the trickiest topics a leader must face—conflict— and you’ll practice tools and strategies that will allow you to navigate that conflict with greater confidence and ease. 

We’ve trained thousands of department chairs over the last 20 years. You will leave this conference with a set of proven strategies and tactics for leading in a changing academic context. Here’s what some of our past participants have said:  

“This is an excellent training for department chairs, regardless of their discipline. The topics and strategies presented allow for deep personal reflection, learning better self-awareness, and immediate ideas for implementation. Highly recommend!”   
-Aleksandra Hollingshead 

“Incredibly insightful. The honesty from presenters and attendees was my favorite part.”   
-Kendra DeHart, Chair BASS, SRSU 

Who should attend?

We invite academic department chairs, heads, program directors, and center directors of all experience levels to attend. This is a terrific opportunity to step away from the day-to-day to focus on your leadership development alongside a cohort of other department chairs from across the country. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to gain a greater self-awareness of your leadership skills while also expanding your network—this conference is for you!


Day 1 – Monday, June 10, 2024
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. CT (Local time in Chicago, Il)
Registration and Continental Breakfast (included with registration) 
8:30 – 9:00 a.m. 



Welcome and Introductions 
9:00 – 9:15 a.m.



Embracing Your Leadership: The Department Chair’s Balancing Acts 
9:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Leadership requires the constant evaluation of a series of trade-offs. For instance, you may ask yourself questions like, “Do I lead as a faculty member or as a department head?” “Do I focus on the immediate or the long-term?” or “Am I a colleague or a supervisor?” This session introduces the “balancing act” or “seesaw” as a framing device that will help you to navigate these inherent trade-offs by orienting your leadership choices and helping you to customize your choices to the situation, opportunity, and problem at hand.



Morning Break 
10:45 – 11:00 a.m. 



Enhancing Your Leadership Effectiveness: The Five Paths to Leadership℠ Assessment 
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Self-awareness lies at the heart of effective leadership. To deepen your understanding of your strengths, blind spots, and leadership style, you’ll complete the Five Paths to Leadership℠ Assessment before the conference, and we’ll review your results at the event. This assessment examines five forms of intelligence, including intellectual, emotional, intuitive, action, and reflective—as well as how you can achieve greater balance among those five forms. The purpose of this assessment is to help you to understand how to adapt your leadership approach to different situations and people as needed, thus enhancing your leadership effectiveness.



Lunch (included with registration) 
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.



Revitalizing Academic Passion: Strategies for Combating Burnout and Enhancing Professional Fulfillment
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
You will explore effective strategies and proactive approaches to address faculty disengagement, burnout, and other well-being challenges within the higher education landscape. The session aims to empower educators and administrators with the knowledge and tools necessary to foster a supportive and thriving academic environment.



Afternoon Break 
2:30 – 2:45 p.m.



Designing Your Department’s Culture: An Inclusive Approach to Creating a Healthy Workplace 
2:45 – 4:30 p.m.
A healthy academic department is defined by inclusive communication, transparent decision making, and the equitable sharing of responsibilities and rewards. The department chair is responsible for building this culture but cannot do so without the full participation of department faculty and staff – which can feel daunting these days, given such hurdles as the rising levels of burnout and the growing operational challenges of a hybrid workforce. This workshop models an approach that you can take back and emulate with your own faculty and staff to engage them in the important work of designing a healthy departmental culture.



Day One Wrap-up and Q&A
4:30 – 4:45 p.m. 
You will have the opportunity to ask any questions related to the topics covered on Day One.



Networking Reception (included in registration fee) 
4:45 – 5:30 p.m. 
This informal reception is your chance to decompress, have some refreshments on us, and expand your network of connections. Our programs are intentionally designed for smaller groups, so this is a great time to catch up with those attendees and speakers with whom you may not have connected yet.



Day 2 – Tuesday, June 11, 2024
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CT (Local time in Chicago, Il)
Continental Breakfast (included with registration) 
8:30 – 9:00 a.m. 



Designing Effective Meetings: Applying the “Five Paths” Assessment 
9:00 – 10:30 a.m. 
Building upon Day One’s discussion related to designing a healthy department culture, here we’ll continue the conversation and explore how the Five Paths to Leadership℠ Assessment can inform and inspire how you design, structure, and lead effective department meetings.



Morning Break 
10:30 – 10:45 a.m. 



Navigating High-Stakes Conversations to Drive Positive Outcomes
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 
This interactive session will empower you to navigate high-stakes discussions with confidence, fostering a culture of open dialogue and collaboration. Through a blend of theory, practical exercises, and real-world scenarios, attendees will gain insights into the key principles of crucial conversations and develop strategies to manage emotions, foster understanding, and drive positive outcomes.



Lunch (included with registration) 
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 



Navigating Challenging Conversations: Communicating Critical Feedback
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Building upon the previous session, we’ll explore the strategies you use to help you communicate critical feedback to faculty and staff. In this session, you’ll be introduced to a series of talking points that can help you to initiate uncomfortable conversations with your subordinates, peers, and superiors. You’ll also learn how “radical candor” can help you to challenge behavior while also showing that you care about the other person. To apply strategies, you’ll practice these skills in role-play.



Afternoon Break
2:30 – 2:45 p.m.



Bringing It All Together: Final Take-Away and Next Steps
2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
As we bring the two-day program to a close, we’ll recap the key insights gained during the conference, and you’ll identify how you can apply these insights to your own everyday leadership choices when you return to campus.



Closing Remarks and Evaluation
3:45 – 4:00 p.m.

Save on In-Person Conference Registrations

Attend any three in-person conferences for $5,000 for Members ($5,500 for Non-Members) – or $1,667 dollars per registration for Members ($1,833 for Non-Members) – with a Conference 3-Pack. There’s no one way to use your 3-Pack!

  • Send 3 people to the same conference
  • Send 3 individuals to different conferences
  • Experience 3 different conferences yourself

Learn More


Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

2233 S Martin Luther King Drive

Chicago, IL 60616

A discounted room rate of $219/night is available if you use this link to book your room by May 19, 2024.


“Engaging, dynamic, practical, and exactly what I needed even though I thought I was doing okay.”
-Jodi Brown

“After viewing the list of attendees, I was not sure if I would be able to relate to other Chairs in attendance coming from an HBCU school. However, it was completely the opposite, we learned from each other, and I realized we all shared common challenges as chairs. I encourage more Chairs from HBCUs to consider attending this conference. It’s a game changer for sure!”
-Angelia Nelson, Chair/Associate Professor, Lincoln University

“I was challenged to incorporate a more balanced set of strategies into my leadership style while developing an awareness of my strengths and blind spots.”
-Delphine Keim, Chair, Art and Design, University of Idaho

“Incredibly insightful. The honesty from presenters and attendees was my favorite part.”
-Kendra DeHart, Chair BASS, SRSU

“This is an excellent training for department chairs, regardless of their discipline. The topics and strategies presented allow for deep personal reflection, learning better self-awareness, and immediate ideas for implementation. Highly recommend!”
-Aleksandra Hollingshead