How Can I Lead and Support Change?
Anybody can be a change leader. If you are creating, facilitating, or advocating for change in STEM education, at any level of the higher education system, you are a change leader. Change leaders may be either formal or informal leaders -- graduate students, faculty members, education leaders, department chairs, professional developers, administrators, etc.
To effectively lead change, think carefully about what type of change you are trying to accomplish, and how you might accomplish this. Who else do you need to involve? What do you need to learn? What might the barriers be? What data might support your planning?
There are many professional development opportunities for change leaders that could be relevant, such as training for teaching excellence, leadership, and facilitation.
Those supporting change leaders often have skills, connections, and/or authority that can be valuable to the change leader. Supports can be within the institution, from chairs and administrators, teaching and learning center staff, or other faculty. Outside the institution, professional organizations and other support networks can be critical.
To support a change leader, one thing you can do is to help them to develop the competencies that they need to lead change. What professional development might they need and how can they get it? How can you help them identify resources, barriers, and institutional context? How can you help them to access or collect relevant data?
Another thing that you can do to support change leaders is to champion their efforts. Make their work visible within and across departments, celebrate their efforts, and reward them as possible. You may act as a valuable liaison to other stakeholders, including those in positions of authority, translating the change leader's efforts to appropriate language.
Overall, try to empower the change leader in their own efforts, and help them to develop their own change leader capacities.
Professional development resources for supporters of change leaders include leadership and facilitation training, training in organizational change, as well as involvement with organizations for professional developers (such as POD).
Interested in learning more?
- Check out our recorded informal discussions on topics such as Faculty Professional Development Online, Building Buy-In, and External Evaluation.
- Take a look at our Change Cafe webinars, including:
- Change Leadership 101
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective STEM Department Chairs
- Leading Change with Design Thinking: A collaborative model of course transform using approaches for solving wicked problems
- Transforming Engineering Education Through the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) Program
- Using an Evidence-Based Approach to Develop a Culture of Shared Leadership for Change
- Collectively Improving Our Teaching: A department-wide professional development program resulting in widespread change
- Embedding education specialists within departments to catalyze change
- Explore our blog posts related to change leadership.
- We also have a critical resource list for change leaders that you can explore on our site or download as a PDF.