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PIVOT: Valencia College’s Leadership Development Series

Leadership Abstract

March 2014, Volume 27, Number 3

By Becky Gallup

In four years, Valencia College in Orlando has taken one leadership academy and developed it into a multi-tiered, robust program designed to develop and strengthen leadership skills at all stages of an employee’s career. Each program in the series, branded as PIVOT, aligns with Valencia’s supervisor and employee competencies for the purpose of developing internal talent and leadership potential at all levels.

Early Stages

In 2009, Valencia’s American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) Chapter founded and launched a leadership academy as a benefit to its 90 members. Rooted in AAWCC’s mission to “champion women and maximize their potential,” this cohort-based academy consisted of 11 all day sessions. The curriculum included a strong focus on personal introspection, a deep reading component, and topics designed to develop transferable leadership skills regardless of position title. After managing the program for two years, AAWCC’s chapter volunteer board handed over the reins in 2011 to the college’s human resources department with the goal of expanding it into a scalable program of learning and transformational change.

Program Content

Valencia’s Human Resources department was able to grow the college’s leadership development offerings by expanding the AAWCC Leadership Academy into a comprehensive leadership development system known as PIVOT. Currently, PIVOT includes four distinctly focused leadership development programs:

  • Pivot 1 is an online, individual self-paced leadership program open to any full-time or part-time Valencia employee. Its purpose is to provide a foundation for successful performance in any position at the college. To help build essential leadership skills, the curriculum is aligned with Valencia’s four employee competencies of communication, adaptability, self-management and awareness, and alignment, . Participants complete a minimum of 10 hours of focused instruction in leadership fundamentals and submit a personal leadership development plan.
  • Pivot 5 is a 32-hour certificate program for full-time supervisors built around Valencia’s five supervisor competencies of communication, collaboration, manage performance, create a culture for employee success, and planning. While initially offered as an optional program for any supervisor, this program is now a keystone in the onboarding process for any employee being hired into or transitioning into a supervisory role. The curriculum is accessible via a combination of online and face-to-face learning.
  • Pivot 180 (the original AAWCC Leadership Academy) is aligned with Valencia’s four employee competencies. Built on a strong foundation of personal introspection and development, its aim is to develop self-efficacy and self-regulation through curriculum that includes self-assessment, peer appraisals, coaching, mentoring, and person and team reflections. Consisting of 11 one-day sessions, this cohort-based program is application-based and each member develops transferable leadership skills such as managing conflict, developing a trusting environment, embracing change, and learning to navigate within Valencia. Participants are selected from each employee classification by a group of peers through a blind-review process to enhance the diversity and inclusivity of the program and to ensure that participants are selected based on the quality of the application. Two graduates of the program are chosen as facilitators of the next year’s program, providing a continued opportunity for individual development.  
  • Pivot 360 is an academic leadership program for deans, directors, and administrators focused on transferring knowledge about the unique culture and working theories of Valencia’s large, multi-campus, and complex organization. Designed to deepen the understanding of a learning-centered and collaborative institution, the program is designed for participants to develop mastery in seven dimensions of academic leadership based on the research of Heck, Johnsrud, and Rosser (2000) and Greicar (2009). The seven dimensions are (1) visions and goal setting; (2) management of the unit; (3) develop and maintain interpersonal relationships with faculty, staff, and students; (4) communication skills; (5) maintain and pursue professional development, research, and institutional endeavors; (6) quality and education in the unit; and (7) supporting and advancing diversity. Session topics include governance, assessment, state and national issues in higher education, crucial conversations, and planning, among others. Participation in this 10-month program is nomination-based and required for all new administrators. This program is facilitated by the Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources, and a completer of the previous year’s Pivot 360 program.

Funding and Management

These programs, along with a host of other individual online and in-person seminars, are managed by the five person Employee Development office in the division of Human Resources. The launch of the series has been gradual, with PIVOT 180 offered since 2009, PIVOT 5 since 2011, PIVOT 360 in 2013, and PIVOT 1 in 2014. Funding for the PIVOT leadership development program has been committed by college leadership, demonstrating the value the institution places on career development. The series provides intentional focused support for new and developing leaders at no cost to them as individuals.


The result of the PIVOT series has been an intentional alignment of leadership development offerings with employee and supervisor competencies that are linked to desired observable behaviors. The expanded offerings and unified curriculum has made leadership development accessible to every Valencia employee, resulting in increased demand for participation. To date, close to 200 Valencia employees have participated in one or more of the offerings.


The benefits to this type of investment include an identified pipeline of talent being developed and made available for replacement and succession planning. This promising bench strength of future leaders is providing thoughtful, ongoing support and tactical knowledge to prepare them to take on new and expanded roles and responsibilities.

The internally developed curriculum, based on solid academic research, ensures that Valencia’s unique culture of learning centeredness, collaboration, and innovation is preserved and transferred to the next generation of leaders. The who, what, and why of Valencia is deeply communicated as a foundation for each participant to more effectively navigate and lead in a large, dynamic environment.

Completers emerge with expanded skills and competencies, making them better prepared to take on new challenges. They leave the program with an internal network of colleagues to collaborate with and tap into for support and resources. Continued development is afforded to completers when they are asked to step up to facilitate the next cohort coming through the program.

The onboarding process has improved for new supervisors and administrators, ensuring a focus on learning centeredness through the institution. Being learning centered doesn’t just apply to students, but to all employees as well.

The PIVOT leadership program embodies Goal 3 of Valencia’s Strategic Plan: Invest in Each Other. Employee engagement is enhanced through the realization that the college is dedicated to and invested in its people and their development.


The PIVOT leadership program at Valencia College has been a purposeful initiative and investment to develop talent from within. The college’s deep commitment to developing leaders is evidenced by its customized curriculum built on a foundation of Valencia competencies and linked to observable behaviors. The value proposition of such a program is that it has created and identified a talent pool of future leaders; accelerated their development; equipped leaders with the knowledge and skills for successful results; and engaged employees through relevant, Valencia-specific content. The natural result has been a deeper engagement of talent and development of high performance leaders at all levels of the college.

By establishing and supporting the PIVOT leadership program, Valencia College is investing in and transforming its employees, one leader at a time.


Greicar, M. B. (2009). The professional preparation of academic deans (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

Heck, R. H., Johnsrud, L. K., & Rosser, V. J. (2000). Administrative effectiveness in higher education: Improving assessment procedures. Research in Higher Education, 41(6), 363-384.

Becky Gallup is the conferencing and college events director at Valencia College.

Opinions expressed in Leadership Abstracts are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.

Posted by The League for Innovation in the Community College on 03/03/2014 at 6:00 AM | Categories: Leadership Abstracts -