Mid-level leaders are critically important in large organizations because of their unique perspective, according to Gene Crumley.
“They see things at that mid-level that others may be unable to see with as much clarity,” said Crumley, director of leadership development for Faculty Development and Diversity (FDD). The desire of many mid-level leaders to refine and improve their approaches to leadership led Crumley to develop the Advanced Leadership Development Program (ALDP), an intensive training curriculum that FDD will inaugurate in January 2019. The program has been undergoing a “pilot phase” since early this year.
The ALDP is intended for UC Davis Health faculty members who currently serve in a variety of roles, including division chief, associate director, vice chair, residency or fellowship director, principal investigator with laboratory management responsibilities, or other similar leadership roles.
Crumley, an avid recreational surfer, discussed what ALDP participants can expect to gain from participating in the program.
Q. How is the Advanced Leadership Development Program structured?
A. The ALDP is based upon a participant-led, interactive cohort model. Learning takes place through a mutually supportive group of 15 peers exploring their lived experiences as leaders. My role is to facilitate the discussions.
Q. What distinguishes mid-level leadership from executive leadership?
A. As people move up in organizations, they often lose sight of details discernable only at ground level. That detail, however, can be valuable. What mid-level leaders do is communicate that detail to senior leaders. Additionally, those same mid-level leaders communicate to the people in their divisions, departments and labs the constraints on the organization. They must be faithful in both directions, but many mid-level leaders perform suboptimally because they are partisans to either the view from below or the perspective from above. The ALDP is intended to help participants learn how embracing both those perspectives can make them better leaders.
Q. What is the Advanced Leadership Development Program duration?
A. We meet one afternoon per month, January through December, from 4 to 6 p.m. We take a break in July and August.
Q. What do you hope the ALDP will accomplish?
A. I’ll count it a success if people in ALDP sustain contact with each other after the program is finished; and if they gain a deeper appreciation for organizational culture and their role in creating, maintaining and even destroying some aspects of that culture; and if they recognize the contribution that only they can make to their organization’s success because of their unique “from the middle” perspective.
Pearls of WISDOM about managers and leaders
“Managers are captives to their organization’s culture, whereas leaders are the culture’s best critics. As John Gardner wonderfully put the matter more than 50 years ago, ‘Managers do things right, leaders to the right things.’ That’s the beauty of mid-level leaders, and why they’re so valuable in organizations. They see things nobody else sees in quite the same way, because of their unique perspective in the organization, right in the middle of the organizational chart.”
– Gene Crumley, director of leadership development, Faculty Development and Diversity