Cultivating Leaders- If You Build It, They Will Come

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session Leadership

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Leadership is tricky and, contrary to what we see, simply promoting your top-performers to leadership positions is not the solution. Leaders and future leaders need assistance in cultivating leadership capacities. This session will explore ways organizations can “grow leaders” through formal and informal strategies. 


Stephanie Hinshaw is the senior vice president of academic affairs. In her role, she oversees all academic activities and initiatives for the college, including academic programs and departments, curriculum production services, student affairs, academic excellence, and continuous improvement. As an advocate for student-first approaches and processes, Hinshaw's ethos revolves around monitoring and converting student feedback and achievement into actionable changes and eliminating barriers to continuing education. She is passionate about providing high-quality education in an accessible manner for adult learners. Hinshaw has worked in higher education for over 19 years and joined American College of Education in 2014, where she ascended the ranks, serving as the senior director of registration and student services, senior director of student operations, and assistant provost and vice president of student operations. Previously, Hinshaw worked as the director of admissions operation for Orbis Education, where she spearheaded admissions efforts for their accelerated online nursing programs and partners. She co-led the creation of their centralized admissions model. Before that, she served as an instructor, director of admissions, corporate director of admissions and marketing, and vice president of admissions for MedTech College. She received her MBA in marketing from Butler University and a bachelor's in journalism and public relations from Indiana University. Hinshaw is presently completing her Ed.D. in interdisciplinary leadership at Creighton University where she is researching the impacts of toxic leaders on their followers. She also attended Harvard's Graduate School of Education 2017 Women in Education Leadership conference and the Online Learning Consortium's 2019 Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning, both programs are designed to help senior-level leaders advance their leadership practice and the field of education.
Natalie Pelham, Director of Training and Development at American College of Education, develops quality, online professional development, ensures authentic training experiences and encourages cross-functional collaboration for all faculty and staff. Natalie has been awarded the Governor's Shine Award for outstanding contributions to STEM education from Governor Rick Scott, recognized as one of the Top 15 educators in Duval County, highlighted by Wells Fargo in an Excellence in Teaching series, and was a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Natalie received her Master's in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Digital Learning and Teaching from American College of Education and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Leadership .

Extended Abstract

Organizations often choose their future leaders by evaluating their work performance and not leadership acumen. This leads to unprepared leaders (Lowney, 2003). Leaders and future leaders need assistance in cultivating leadership capacities. A Systematic development and implementation of leadership development are fundamental and tied to long-term organizational success; however, organizations often overlook or address leadership development in a haphazard approach (Society for Human Resource Management, 2017). Two ways organizations can assist in leadership development is through informal mentoring and coaching alongside formal leadership development programs. This session explores one institutions’ innovative approach to developing current and future leaders through various virtual approaches. Specifically, the presentation will provide a blueprint for attendees that they can use to cultivate leadership virtually at their organization. Some of the strategies discussed include developing leaders and building leadership capacity by creating online Leadership Development Programs, hosting virtual Leadership Book Clubs, offering Leadership Interest Meetings through online platforms, and creating and implementing a fully remote formal mentoring program. These strategies have been used to improve career outcomes, increase employee engagement and retention, and encourages diversity and inclusion.

As organizations focus on building employee skills efficiently and effectively, employees become more confident and comfortable, increasing performance and promotion rates. According to McKinsey (2015), in organizations that have leadership development initiatives, 89% of employees tied their success of individual performance to organizational development programs. Additionally, investment in leadership development improves bottom-line financial performance, promotes employee retention, and helps employees experience increased success in navigating changes (Center for Creative Leadership, 2020).

The presenters argue the development of innovative leadership training programs is critical to improving leaders. Specifically, harmful or toxic leaders are more often than not the result of leadership not having the positive leadership competencies needed (Lipman-Blumen, 2005). Creating internal training programs to address critical competencies and leadership development help organizations address leadership gaps, and train future leaders in best practices. We begin our internal leadership development programs with an online training titled, “Leading Where You Are.” In this initial training, we explore what successful 21st-century leaders look like and how we can adapt an inclusive leadership style through a self-paced yet interactive training. Next in the series is an online internal training focused on organizational culture, motivating and encouraging employees, strategic thinking and influencing, and diverse and inclusive leadership. Finally, employees complete an internal online training on being a change-maker as a leader. Being a leader involves proactively seeking change and knowing the right approach to implement changes within an organization. Leaders need to know how to not only confront risks but effectively communicate change. After successfully completing our three internal, online training courses, employees are eligible to enroll in our virtual Leadership Development Mentoring program.

In addition to the formal training program at our institution, department leaders engage in several strategies to promote leadership capacities in their team members. In this presentation, we will discuss virtual departmental leadership book clubs, mentoring, culture creation in an online environment, and Growth,  Plan, and Support (GPS) meetings leaders use to ensure they are supporting their followers in achieving their goals and assisting them in preparing for future career goals. The department strategies support the organizational training opportunities all in a remote work setting. Together, these two approaches assist our organization in creating a culture where leadership is valued, trained, and cultivated.

Creating a structured workplace mentoring program promotes a safe and collaborative learning culture, increases job satisfaction, and reduces turnover (Choudhury, 2019).  At our institution, 100% of the executive leaders and 41.5% of our entire organizational leadership team are formally mentoring employees outside their department, leading to both individual and college-wide growth. Within our remote, formal leadership development mentoring sessions, short and long-term goals are set, teams work to solve a particular situation together, creating real-world learning experiences, and mentoring pairs solicit peer feedback. Responses from the formal, remote mentoring program have been overwhelmingly positive, with employees excited to learn from each other. Examples of feedback received after each session includes:

“We had a great discussion and format of short and long terms goals. And finding next/preliminary steps to achieving these goals.”

“We finally had a breakthrough of how I can actually assist my mentee with an issue she is having, and we have a concrete plan to work on the issue.”

“Was a wonderful meeting. I had it scheduled for 30 minutes, but I think the introduction meeting should be for an hour. We had lots to talk about!”

“Always a pleasure meeting with and learning from my mentor. I appreciate these sessions so much, THANK YOU!”

“I'm excited to see what happens in our sessions and how I can grow professionally and personally during this time!”

In this session, the presenters will share more information about the formalized virtual programs and department approaches to accomplish the leadership development goals. This presentation, where listed as an education session, will still be highly interactive. Specifically, the presenters will engage participants in a variety of ways. First, the presenters will create a tool to capture training ideas from participants electronically. Thus, participants will be asked to share their best practices, and this list will be available to participants. Second, the presenters will use PollEverywhere to gather input during the presentation from participants. Last, the participants will be asked to reflect on the session at the end and share strategies they plan to employ at their organization. Or, in other words, we will ask participants to share their key takeaways from the session. The goal of this is to ensure participants leave the presentation with strategies that can be implemented at their organization

In this session, attendees can expect to learn:

  1. Mentoring strategies within a department
  2. Informal leadership coaching strategies
  3. Steps to create an internal leadership development program (LDP)
  4. The effects on leaders and future leaders.


Center for Creative Leadership. (2020). 4 Reasons to invest in leadership development.

Choudhury, T. (2019). 7 Benefits Of A Structured Workplace Mentoring Program.

Lipman-Blumen, J. (2005). The allure of toxic leaders. Oxford University Press.

Lowney, C. (2003). Heroic leadership: Best practices from a 450-year-old company that changed the world. Loyola Press.

McKinsey & Company. (2015). Building capabilities for performance.

Society for Human Resource Management. (2017). Developing organizational leaders.