University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Collaborative Leadership Development

Sponsor: Gail Dubrow, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School

Overview of the Project

The University's Strategic Positioning process recognized the University's need and capacity to successfully engage in interdisciplinary inquiry as essential to realizing the institution's goal of becoming a top three public research university. Many of the skills required to effectively lead collaborative teams engaged in interdisciplinary teaching, research, scholarship, or artistic work are not routinely taught within the academic and professional curriculum. The objective of the Collaborative Leadership Development Project is to define the competencies, learning outcomes, assessment strategies, training modules, and resources needed to develop a comprehensive program designed to prepare University faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students to successfully lead collaborative teams engaged in interdisciplinary inquiry.

Background Information (pdf)

Project Goals

Several of the Strategic Positioning Task Force reports included recommendations that underscored the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in advancing institutional goals. However, those who assume leadership roles in collaborative and interdisciplinary contexts may lack the knowledge and skills to maximize their effectiveness in these roles.

  1. What is effective collaborative leadership for the University community?
    • How do the University's administrative stakeholders define effective collaborative leadership?
    • How do other stakeholder groups within the University define effective collaborative leadership?
    • How is this vision reflected in the University culture?

  2. What development strategies need to be in place to strengthen and/or transform the University culture to make sure it is aligned with the vision of effective collaborative leadership? How can the University leverage new technologies to facilitate the exchange of collaborative leadership development?

  3. As new initiatives move forward, what are the overarching goals and priorities for collaborative leadership development and culture change? Who are the key stakeholders and what roles do they play, respectively, in delivering training to students, staff, and faculty in this domain?


The questions above are broad and answering them will require a multi-stage project. To begin addressing them, we plan to focus on defining collaborative leadership roles and associated competencies. We expect that this activity will uncover strategic issues related to collaborative leadership development and will help inform the creation of a comprehensive collaborative leadership development program to be offered by The Graduate School's new Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives on behalf of the Provost's Interdisciplinary Team.

PEL team members could be engaged in the following types of activities:

Phase 1: Analysis and Definition

The first phase of the project will to define collaborative leadership roles and expectations at the University. This will encompass a broad array of roles and responsibilities across the institution and will include roles associated with traditional positional leadership, as well as leadership activities associated with other roles (for example, collaborative team members who do not have traditional supervisory or management responsibilities).

Step 1: Information Gathering
  • Identify key stakeholder groups and create a strategy for gathering information regarding effective collaborative leadership at the University.
  • Interview University leadership to gain understanding of the leadership vision and how collaborative leadership informs the broader leadership vision.
  • Identify and interview key stakeholder groups from other institutions that face similar issues relating to collaborative leadership development.
  • Identify existing best practices relating to collaborative leadership development at peer institutions.
Step 2: Defining Collaborative Leadership Roles and Associated Competencies
  • Research collaborative leadership development frameworks and review models for identifying collaborative leadership roles and competencies.
  • Synthesize themes from interviews and identify/recommend a model of roles and competencies that reflects the University vision.

Phase 2: Creating a Collaborative Leadership Development Strategy

The next phase is to create a strategy to ensure that those who engage in collaborative research, teaching, and training at the University have the necessary competencies to carry out their responsibilities and achieve their objectives.

  • Inventory existing collaborative leadership development opportunities currently in place at the University, the competencies covered, the methods of delivery, and the methods of assessment.
  • Perform a “gap analysis” to map the core competencies identified in Phase 1 with the resources available for gaining and enhancing these competencies.
  • Recommend mechanisms to ensure that those engaged in collaborative research, teaching, and training at the University have the core competencies needed to do so successfully.

Phase 3: Design

PEL team members can work with development staff to:

  • Assess additional resources for gaining core competencies, such as training offered by outside vendors, e-learning programs and other electronic applications.
  • Design a broad framework for development opportunities identified in Phase 2. Appropriate opportunities could include workshops, online courses, management assessment, and/or self-study activities.
  • Identify priorities for the creation of development opportunities starting with those that enhance the core competencies identified in Phase 1.

Project Team

Team Advisors

Vicki Field, Director, Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives
Char Voight, Assistant Director, Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives

Team Members

Bruce Erickson
Director of Communications
Office of the VP for Research
Coach: Jean Quam

Rachel Hartreeve
Space Management Consultant
Office of Space Management
Coach: Karen Himle

Charleen Klarquist
Student Support Services Assistant
Design, Housing and Apparel
Coach: Erin George

Victoria Larson
One Stop Student Services
Coach: Jan Morlock

Anne Sumangil
Event Manager
Marketing Services
Carlson School of Management