Higher Education Institution Builds More Cohesive Leadership Culture
|Tarrant County College
|6 campuses located in Fort Worth, Texas and online
|Over 800 faculty and 2,000 adjunct faculty; Serves over 100,000 students annually
Tarrant County College (TCC) is one of the 20 largest higher education institutions in the U.S., dedicated to providing quality, accessible learning experiences for its students. TCC’s 6 campuses offer a variety of programs and services providing core curriculum, associates’ degrees, workforce training, and social support.
As traditional higher education institutions face more intense competition for student enrollment, they must change, finding new and exciting ways to be more efficient, collaborative, and transparent. Higher education’s organizational structure makes this change more challenging because colleges are often siloed — with departments operating independently of each other. TCC’s new chancellor and his cabinet recognized the need for a future-focused strategic plan beginning with team behavior shifts and an organizational culture alignment to help them function as “one college.”
To create this culture change, the new chancellor sought a leadership development experience that would help TCC face their challenges with more agility, speed, collaboration, and interdependent leadership. First, he wanted the chancellor’s cabinet to come together under shared goals, align across campuses, and share a common leadership language. A member of the team described their focus as “building greater self-awareness of not only what we do as a team, but how we do it.”
CCL recommended the chancellor’s cabinet participate in a multi-session executive leadership training program to bring about transformative change. The initiative aimed to develop a cohesive culture and a distributed leadership style that could move more quickly to meet the evolving needs of the institution’s students, faculty, staff, and community.
CCL’s higher education experts partnered with TCC to develop a learning journey for the 14 members of the chancellor’s cabinet. “If you don’t start at the senior-level, how can leaders at other levels understand where you want to go?” said one of the college presidents. The initiative included a learning journey with a combination of:
- Peer group learning and small team collaboration,
- Experiential activities,
- Customized assessments,
- 1-on-1 360-degree feedback coaching, and
- 6 hours of executive coaching per cabinet member.
With new clarity around the college’s strategy, the chancellor’s cabinet and CCL facilitators focused each session on the key competencies chosen by the chancellor to promote collaboration and inclusiveness on the team, including:
- Boundary Spanning,
- Accountability, and
- Candor in communication
As a complex, cross-functional, multi-campus group, the chancellor’s cabinet had no shortage of boundaries, so the first session concentrated on boundary spanning leadership which involves creating team direction, alignment, and commitment. CCL’s research shows that leaders who effectively practice boundary spanning have the advantage when faced with solving problems and creating innovative solutions.
As they moved through the sessions, TCC’s college presidents described a changing dynamic on the team, including increased intentionality, clarity, and courage to speak up. One campus president mentioned seeing these high-performing leaders begin to collaborate in new ways, including “communication with a purpose.”
The initiative’s success was also seen through the dissemination of leadership training and the increase in internal capacity building across the institution. After attending the chancellor’s cabinet team sessions, 3 of the college’s campus presidents conducted CCL leadership training with their own teams. Additionally, TCC’s campus deans, college directors, the provost’s leadership team, and the IT senior leadership team have since participated in CCL-led workshops.
“Coaching was powerful and better than I imagined. Now, we are a high-performing team that works together, and also recognizes that individual contributions matter — we are a composite of the best of our wisdom.”
“I have seen a profound impact on my campus and with my team, more clarity in vision, goals, and intentional purpose.”
“One great thing about the experience is that CCL has invested in our whole institution from the moment that we first engaged with them. And now we have what we need to build and sustain internal capacity that sticks with you differently than other programs.”
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We understand the distinct challenges facing higher education. We can partner with your institution to address all levels of the collegiate experience from senior-level administrators to students. Whether you’re creating your first program or revamping a decades-old initiative, we’re committed to strengthening strategic processes and enhancing the leadership capabilities of colleges and universities.