We are working on a programme in the Faculty of Science at the University of Hong Kong which aims to build an informal leadership team spanning academic departments and professional services.
Over a period of six months, 15 senior colleagues are establishing themselves as a group of current and future leaders in the Faculty. They are learning how to work collaboratively through tackling issues which are critical to implementing the Faculty’s new development plan. Working in this way will help overcome the risks of silo working which used to prevail in the Faculty.
The intention of the programme is to enable the Faculty to see itself in new ways; to construct narratives for its own future. Here is the story of the first intensive part of the programme, run in October 2017.
The week began at the tail-end of a typhoon. Across the harbour, ferries were just starting to run again. The cloud layers slid back up the mountains on the Kowloon side.
At the western end of Hong Kong Island, rays of sunlight flecked the Centennial Campus, its buildings living up to their reputation as one of the world’s finest ensembles of university architecture. Fifteen key managers and future leaders from the Faculty of Science gathered in a room to hear from their Dean.
His message was clear: the people working together here for the next three days would shape the future for the academics and professional administrators they supported; these men and women would be collaborating so as to create a culture where trust, shared responsibility and widely-distributed leadership would help to prepare the University for a challenging new era among leading global universities.
They had already mapped out a Development Plan, and were now keen to work together to tackle Faculty-wide challenges.
During the intensive programme, they worked with newly-appointed academics on how to improve staff induction, and engaged with a group of Masters students on planning enhancements in learning and teaching.
Each person taking part in the programme had a short coaching conversation with Paul, the facilitator, and these will be followed by further sessions over the next six months.
Meanwhile, the Faculty leadership team has devised a set of principles for working together, and is now planning to meet regularly to tackle key leadership topics as the Development Plan unfolds.
As one colleague put it, ‘this is the first of its kind in the Faculty… a very good starting point [for] leadership development.’
Here’s how other participants summed up their experience on the programme using six words of their choice:
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