For more than 10 years, Jodi Gentry has championed the design and development of a dynamic and transformative Leadership Development program at the University of Florida. As the newly appointed vice president for human resources at UF, she is energized by the opportunity to take the institution to the next level through strategic initiatives that harness the power of the university’s outstanding faculty and staff.
HOW DOES HR FIT INTO UFa��S ASPIRATIONS TO RISE IN NATIONAL STATURE?
It’s my view that the HR program broadly has to help create and maintain the conditions that encourage, enable and expect excellence. There are a range of different ways to do that, whether it’s through a compensation strategy or how we approach performance. But, there’s no doubt that the idea of encouraging and enabling excellence is absolutely aligned with the effectiveness of leadership throughout the organization.
There’s quite a bit of research that suggests people make all sorts of decisions about whether they stay at an organization and the extent to which they give of themselves in an organization that are aligned with the quality of leadership they have.
So, as we think about the HR program and where the institution is trying to go a�� and we really think about our role, as an organization, in helping create those conditions that encourage, enable and expect excellence a�� the idea of leadership development continues to be a strategic imperative.
WHY HAS LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT BECOME SO CRITICAL FOR UF?
Historically a�� and in academia in particular a�� there has been a sense that if someone is smart, that should be enough to position him or her in a leadership role. I always like to joke that the approach to leadership selection and development has been: “You’re smart. You’ll be fine. Good luck.”A�But, we’re so complex and we’re pushing so hard to excel that it has become clearer and clearer that isn’t enough.
There’s no doubt that academic excellence and intellectual capability are critical to who we are and what we are as an organization, but the transition from strong individual contributor, high-quality researcher, or smart and capable person into a leadership role brings the need for additional capabilities and responsibilities that we have to pay attention to.
HOW DID UFa��S LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE ORIGINALLY COME ABOUT?
We spent some time trying to understand what effective leadership looked like at UF, given where we are and where we want to be. We then designed a competency model in a thoughtful, deliberate way that is based on the University of Florida experience.
We use this competency model in a number of ways a�� through our ongoing training, our UF Academy and Advanced Leadership for Academics and Professionals programs, online Leadership Toolkit, and a UF Leader 360 assessment a�� to cultivate excellence in our leaders so that they are, in turn, able to cultivate excellence and create the conditions for their own faculty and staff to achieve.
We also utilize existing leaders at UF as a way to anchor the participants’ experience in the real world a�� what really is happening right here on campus. It’s a way for us to create a shared understanding of what effective leadership looks like.
HOW WILL YOU CARRY YOUR PASSION FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT INTO YOUR NEW ROLE AS VICE PRESIDENT?
When I think about the role of human resources at the University of Florida and the university’s preeminence aspirations, there are a range of different strategic initiatives that we will want to identify and implement. Our focus has to be on how we support preeminence through people a�� the ways that we enable, encourage and expect excellence. Leadership is a pillar, as we think about it. I see it as a strategic imperative.
ANGIE BROWN is assistant director for Communications and Wellness for the University of Floridaa��s Office of Human Resource Services. In her role at UF she manages electronic and print communications, facilitates internal change management efforts, and provides strategic communication planning and execution. In addition, she oversees UFa��s faculty and staff wellness initiatives and serves as a member of the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communitiesa�� board of directors. Prior to joining UF, she held positions at Penn State University and Oregon Health & Science University.