Learning about leadership

April 6, 1999

Better awareness of self and others is a key attribute to being an effective leader. Just ask Stephen Lund.

Lund, director of the academic personnel office, learned more about the privileges he enjoys as a white male – and the lack thereof for people of color – while attending the UW–Madison Leadership Institute.

For information on the Leadership Institute, contact Toni Caleb, 263-2378 or toni.caleb@mail.admin.wisc.edu. Application deadline: June 1.

As part of the institute’s yearlong program to build leadership skills in junior- and senior-level faculty, academic staff and classified staff, Lund and other participants filled out a privilege checklist and revealed their scores to the group. Lund checked yes on 43 of 46 statements of privilege.

“Of course I knew my score would be higher than those of the people of color, but I was really surprised to learn just how low their scores were,” says Lund. “That was shocking. It put a real face on racism. It’s not just directed towards people of color in general. It’s directed towards people of color whom I know.”

Awareness of self and others is just one of the many benefits the institute provides, says Greg Vincent, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Equity and Diversity Resource Center. Vincent founded the institute last year. Participants take part in small- and large-group discussions and complete professional development plans with a mentor. They are also introduced to information and resources to help them as leaders.

“The exciting thing is the synergy between the three ways that individuals get to interact with the university, in small groups, large groups and one-on-one,” says Vincent, who will co-direct the program next year with Seema Kapani, the EDRC’s diversity education coordinator.

The program’s 42 participants focused on four themes this academic year: A Journey Inward; Belief about Others; Multiple Perspectives on the Meaning(s) of Work; and Personal Meaning(s) of Leadership. Readings and writing assignments on the topics were required.

Lund says the institute broadened his perspective as a leader.

“I think it’s important for people in leadership or who aspire to be in leadership to think about things other than the bottom line,” Lund says.

Vincent, who is recruiting participants for the 1999-2000 academic year, says the time and effort one must devote to the program are extremely beneficial.

“You make time for things that are important,” he says.

Tags: learning