Essential Leadership Skills for Department Chairs

This event has ended.

Essential Leadership Skills for Department Chairs

This event has ended.

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. On 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. The focus for day two will be 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, and our curriculum is designed by  former Chair and senior academic leader, Jeanne Hey. With her guidance and expertise, you will leave this conference with a set of proven strategies and tactics for leading in a changing academic context. 

Who should attend?

We invite academic department chairs, 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 yourself as a leader—while also expanding your network—this conference is for you!



Your registration fee includes full access to all conference sessions and materials, breakfast and lunch on both days, access to the networking reception on Thursday, as well as refreshments and snacks throughout the conference.


DAY ONE – Thursday, November 9, 2023
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. CT All times are in Central Time (local time in New Orleans)


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 a.m. – 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?” “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 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.



Creating Alignment within Your Institution: Goal-Setting as a Balancing Act
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
What are your goals for your department’s future? How do they intersect with those of your department faculty and your institution’s overall strategic plan? This workshop will help you to approach goal-setting as a balancing act that you engage in to put your department on a path of improvement while also working within the university’s strategic directions.



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 TWO – Friday, November 10
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CT


Continental Breakfast (included with registration)
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.



Designing Effective Meetings: Applying the “Five Paths” Assessment
9:00 a.m. – 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℠ Self Assessment can inform and inspire how you design, structure, and lead effective department meetings.



Morning Break
10:30 – 10:45 a.m.



Understanding Your Approach to Conflict: The Kraybill Conflict Styles Inventory
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Understanding how to effectively navigate conflict is a vital skill for chairs, but it can also be one of the most difficult and complicated to get right. Prior to the conference, you’ll complete the Style Matters: The Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory, which identifies five distinct approaches to conflict and reveals your comfort level with each. During this session, we’ll review your results to help you become more self-aware of your approaches to conflict while also growing your conflict management toolkit.



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 two sessions, we’ll explore strategies you can 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 these strategies, you’ll practice these skills in role-play.



Afternoon Break
2:30 – 2:45 p.m.



Bringing It All Together: Final Take-Aways and Next Steps
2:45 – 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.



Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette French Quarter Area Hotel 

Address: 817 Common Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112 

Phone #: 504-525-1111 

Room rate: $199 

Room block dates: nights of November 8 and 9, 2023 

USE THIS LINK to book your room before Monday, October 16th