Leadership Growth Program

Discovering Opportunity in the Midst of Crisis: A Special FAS Leadership Growth Program Event

This webinar was the result of months of research and collaboration to develop projects that could help the UT community in this time of crisis. The presenters are participants in the 2020 Leadership Growth Program for Financial and Administrative Services at The University of Texas. Their proposals are innovative and inspiring, and have the potential to make a tremendous positive impact on UT.

 UT SWAP video

 Trees to Treasures video

What is LGP?

The Leadership Growth Program (LGP) develops current and future leaders at The University of Texas. Participants undergo extensive professional development based on an evolving curriculum of leadership principles, theory, and concepts.

This program is currently limited to the Financial and Administrative Services portfolio. All participants must be full-time employees for at least 12 months within FAS. The program runs from January to July, meeting weekly for 2-hour sessions.

Founded by Dr. Elida Lee ten years ago, LGP has helped over fifty people grow into effective leaders at the university. The projects that participants developed and implemented have in many cases made significant positive impacts on how we do business at UT.

The program is held once per year and lasts approximately six months. Participants can expect to spend up to 30 hours per month on the program. Between five and ten people will be selected to participate.

The 2018-19 FAS LGP Program concluded July 9, 2019 with proposal presentations to FAS Leadership. For a list of topics and graduates, click on the following link for a PDF of the agenda.

Anyone interested in learning more about the issues presented are encouraged to reach out to the graduates.

Our Objective

A critical objective of this program is to establish a leadership pipeline for the university, and improve engagement and performance of top talent within the Financial and Administrative Services portfolio.

The aim of the program is to help participants develop high-level knowledge, skills, and abilities used by successful leaders across different industries.

Beginning this year, LGP will use the following definition of leadership developed by Brené Brown as a starting point for better understanding leadership:

Anyone at any level who holds herself or himself accountable for finding the potential in people or processes and developing that potential.

It is our intent to develop leaders who exemplify that definition of leader. To that end we will focus on strengthening participants’ competencies in the following six areas.

  1. Honesty & Integrity — Acts as a role model for honesty and integrity; ability to establish and maintain trust with people at all levels and consistently demonstrate sound ethical behavior.
  2. Critical Thinking — Knowledge of the problem solving and decision-making process and associated tools and techniques; ability to accurately synthesize information, analyze situations, and reach productive outcomes based on informed judgment.
  3. Implementing & Producing Results — Ability to weigh the advantages and benefits of outcomes against the effort and obstacles that inhibit those outcomes; skill in prioritization and assigning resources to achieve or exceed planned outcomes.
  4. Vision & Strategy — Skilled in foreseeing and articulating a desired future state, and designing a path to reach it; ability to navigate the obstacles and challenges associated with change, and communicate a vision that motivates others to perform at a high level.
  5. Judgment & Decision-making — Carefully evaluates the impact of emerging situations and chooses the best route forward; ability to determine and effectively communicate actions and activities that maximize performance.
  6. Political Savvy — Keen perception regarding interpersonal politics and the skill to respond accordingly; ability to effectively navigate formal and informal communication and decision-making channels.

Who we are Looking for

The program is intended for people who have demonstrated the aptitude for leadership, but may not necessarily currently be in a traditional or formal leadership position.

Participants are evaluated for high levels of leadership potential, commitment to leadership, and enthusiasm for realizing their potential based on recommendations from supervisors, applicants’ letter of interest, performance evaluation, and interview.

Learning Formats and Styles

LGP is designed to provide an effective and rewarding experience to a wide variety of learning styles. Participants engage with the material is several different formats.

Critical thinking

Traditionally this program begins with a reading group. This allows participants to get to know one another while learning about a number of the topics, as well as ease them into the important discipline of speaking in public. The facilitation of this exercise encourages the participants to evaluate the content of the book critically and have an open discussion about the material.

Micro and E-learning

The advent of e-learning has provided us with incredible opportunities to target our learning experiences to cater to our unique curiosities and needs. Beginning this year LGP will assign participants an exploratory project where they will use online resources to learn about the topics of design thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking. An open discussion will follow and participants will be encouraged to apply what they learned on the LGP projects.


A journal is provided for all participants and they are given weekly assignments to write their thoughts about leadership. This exercise hones their writing skills and creates an immersive learning experience focused on leadership.


We will bring in several experts to run workshops and give talks on various topics. All speakers are urged to create a participatory learning environment in which participants engage in discussion and consider how content can be applied in real-world scenarios.


Each participant will have a turn at assigning a journaling topic every week, and open discussion will follow. The e-learning assignment also gives participants opportunity to actively participate in discussion on leadership topics, and all guest speakers will be encouraged to involve participants in their talks or workshops.

On the Job

The LGP projects compels participants to learn on the job and interact with subject matter experts, honing their communication and critical thinking tools. The real-world nature of these projects obligates the participants to dive deep into their research and ensure that they learn from experts.


UT Learning & Development practices the 70-20-10 philosophy of professional development, in which 70% of learning should come from workplace experience, 20% from interaction with other people, and 10% from reading and classroom learning.

LGP will apply this philosophy to guide participants’ learning experience in the following topics:

  • Leadership Ethics & Civility
  • Leadership Theory
  • Talent Management
  • Effective Communication
  • Public Speaking and Presenting
  • Professional Writing
  • Problem Solving
  • Persuasion and Influence
  • Mindfulness
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Engagement
  • Inclusion

Guest speakers will cover topics in talent management, communication, public speaking, emotional intelligence, and authentic listening. In the spirit of community, senior leadership will be given the opportunity to share insights in these areas as well, and participants may inquire about mentorships.

The book for the reading group will be chosen for its insights in leadership theory and ethics. Additionally, participants will be assigned articles on leadership that they will discuss in class.

Participants must complete two projects. The first is competency based, in which participants determine a competency to develop that will have the most significant impact. They are then required to write a professional report on why their competency is important to leadership and how they will develop that competency. They will also give a 3-minute presentation on their findings. The benefits of this project are two-fold. It helps create focus for development and helps to prepare them for the second, more intensive project.

The second project requires participants to identify a problem or opportunity at the university and develop an implementation plan. A written report and formal presentation are also required. Both projects provide on-the-job learning experiences, which is an integral component of UT Learning & Development’s philosophy that 70% of professional development should happen in the workplace.

The public speaking and presenting is perhaps the most rigorous aspect of the program. It is a hand-on learning experience where participants are evaluated and coached by their peers. For many, this is a high-stress scenario that helps prepare them for demanding leadership roles.

Projects compel participants to learn on the job and interact with subject matter experts, teaching essential problem solving and communication skills.

Participants will share in class and discuss their experience with micro- and E-learning on the subjects of Design thinking, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Creative Thinking.

Written and oral reports are the culmination of their efforts and are an intensive learning experience in the subjects of research, problem solving, writing, and public speaking.

Application Requirements

Applicants must either currently be performing effectively in a formal leadership role, or they have consistently demonstrated strong leadership characteristics in the workplace, indicating that they would be a high performer in a formal leadership role.

Applicants must honor the FAS values of Stewardship, Integrity, Innovation, Diversity, Teamwork, and Service.

Applicants must commit to up to 30 hours per month to LGP for the duration of the program.

Applicants must have their supervisor’s, director’s, and AVP’s (or equivalent) approval to dedicate up to 30 hours per month to LGP during their normal workday.

Applicants must be full-time employees within the FAS portfolio for at least 12 months.

Applicants must have at an overall “Meets Expectations” or better on their last performance evaluation.

This program is offered at no cost to the participants.

Application Process

There are three phases of the admission process

  1. Application packet— Applicants are required to submit the following materials to be considered for the program:
    1. Application form
    2. Letter of interest
    3. Resume
    4. Most recent performance evaluation
  2. Three-tier approval — Applicants will submit their packets to their direct supervisors for supervisory approval, which must then be routed to the respective Director and Associate Vice President (or equivalent) for their approval. Applications without full approval will not be accepted. Do not submit partial packets.
  3. Panel interview — Top candidates, as determined from their application packets, will be interviewed by a panel. Each panel member will provide their own anonymous recommendation and reasons for their decisions. Those recommendations will be sent to Darrell Bazzell, who will choose 10 participants for the incoming LGP class.

Letter of interest should express the applicants potential, enthusiasm, and commitment to leadership.

Send complete application packets to the following campus address (do not send partial packets at any time):

Emil Kresl
Human Resources
UTA 3.202

Application deadline for the 2019-20 season was October 4, 2019.


For over a decade at The University of Texas, Emil has helped people at every level of the university better understand their own jobs and discover ways to make those jobs better. His work in academic departments, The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and now Human Resources has provided him with a comprehensive knowledge of the systems, policies, and procedures of UT and higher education. In all of those UT departments, Emil improved working conditions and increased efficiencies. He now reaches out to the rest of The University to do the same.

As the director of UT Learning & Development, Emil helps people realize their potential in part by adapting technical and complex professional concepts for use in everyday life, but also by raising their awareness of cultural and behavioral issues that influence their performance.

Emil holds masters degrees in public policy and community planning, and has had various articles published on those topics. He is the author of Self-leadership: The Art and Science of Control.