April 2017

Case Study: Columbia Teachers College

By Tom Deierlein

Each year Academy Leadership presents our Leadership Excellence Partner Award to client organizations that recognize the importance of leadership development as a key resource for continued outstanding performance and bottom line results. We are proud to announce Columbia Teachers College as one of our 2016 award winners.

Summary of Client Business and Initial Contact

Pictured: Dennis Haley, Naveed Husain, and Tom Deierlein

Naveed Husain first became engaged with Academy Leadership when he signed up for our Leadership Excellence Course in January of 2013. He learned about us through an email from his local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter in New York City. At the time, he was Chief Information Officer for Queens College in NY. He registered himself and the three folks on his staff that have management responsibility into an open enrollment program. We did the program at the Yale Club and they dubbed themselves the "Yale 13" for the thirteen students in the course. Naveed took the lead in establishing a group communications platform after the experience to keep the conversation and lessons learned going.

Naveed, knowing the importance of "leadership vs. management" in the Information Technology field, then invited us to provide a keynote speech to spark discussion on leadership and values at his next meeting with The Leadership Board for CIOs in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in May of 2013. "The Leadership Board for CIO’s in higher education provides insights and strategies and personal relationships that can help IT leaders in higher education plan for and manage technologies and resources." Members include Marshall University, University of Nebraska, Colorado State, City University of New York, University of Oklahoma, Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Miami, and Trinity College in Dublin.

The Leadership Challenge

When Naveed arrived in his new role as CIO of Teachers College, Columbia University, he knew right away he wanted to reach out for us to help with the leadership development. The role of CIO can be notoriously short-lived. He knew to thrive and to have the impact he envisioned at this Ivy League institution, he needed his directors and managers to lead. More importantly he knew they needed to break down their functional silos and come together as a leadership team with shared goals and values.

The Solution

Naveed requested an "in-house" program for 15 of his directors and managers to be conducted one day a month over three months with follow on one-on-one coaching. In the summer of 2015 we did a Leadership Excellence Course for the team. The participants ranged from the managers of units to the directors around the round-table. The program concluded with a team building weekend at Mohonk Mountain House, a resort in the Catskills two hours north of New York City. The two days included hiking, time at the lake, shared meals, and concluded with Naveed sharing his Personal Leadership Philosophy with the team.

The Results

Each participant developed a personal 90-day Action Plan to turn the lessons learned into new leadership behaviors and habits. They shared their individual "Personal Leadership Philosophy" with their various teams and then posted on the department’s ePortfolio platform.

Since then they have rolled out seven new classrooms of the future, a new cloud-based phone system, a new wireless network, and a new service desk. Next the team will expand Teachers College’s presence in the Amazon Cloud and Microsoft Azure environments to build Teachers College’s Automation System, a completely paperless administrative system.

On the revenue side, Teachers College is expanding its online presence using cloud-based learning management systems, from registration to online classes.

The result is that none of these projects could ever have been attempted when Naveed first arrived and without the leadership training and coaching program.

The leadership program provides a single platform to bring everyone to the level, which supports equality and fraternity, leading to successful outcomes.

One Director noted, "I find that I am a much-improved communicator, sharing information gathered from executive level meetings in the College with my direct reports and other workers in my department. We definitely have a greater understanding and communication through sharing our leadership philosophies and this had led to an effective working group."

Another Director noted, "I feel the biggest gain I was able to take away from the leadership training is understanding individual's drives...Knowing their Energize2Lead personality profile helps me establish how I approach that individual for assistance or when asking them to complete a task."

Naveed summarized his relationship with Academy Leadership, "Our goal is to be quick, light, and coordinated, and we can only do that through collaborative leadership."