Portfolio program helps state close leadership gap

Diane Leung ’01 (English Literature) reflected on her supervisory style on the first day of her leadership class.
"I'm a data-based person, very technical. I like things in writing and prefer email," says Leung, a supervisor in the California Department of General Services. As she sized up her abilities, she knew communication was one area she wanted to improve.

Diane Leung photo DIANE LEUNG ’01—a supervisor working for the California Department of General Services, was nominated for the College of Continuing Education’s Portfolio program by her boss who recognized her leadership potential.

Leung manages a unit that establishes the list of qualified vendors state agencies use to buy goods and services, a multi-million dollar responsibility. She was a supervisor for less than two years when her boss recognized her leadership potential and nominated her for The Portfolio.

Established by the Sacramento State College of Continuing Education, The Portfolio offers three certificate programs that enrich leaders at all levels of government. Leadership for the Government Executive launched in 2006, followed by Leadership for the Government Manager and Leadership for the Government Supervisor.

Leung graduated from the five-month Leadership for the Government Supervisor course in January and recalls a transformational moment.

"It's not just communicating and not just delegating. You have to look at the individual and assess competency level and clarity," explains Leung. When an employee needs more instruction, a new strategy includes sitting down for a few minutes, building a relationship in-person and providing clarity.

Leung represents the next generation of public service leaders whose leadership is needed more than ever.

"California is facing a serious succession planning issue," says Kathleen Webb, assistant secretary in the California Government Operations Agency, who is spearheading training and innovation in the state workforce. More than 50 percent of state employees are eligible to retire in five to 10 years, according to state labor statistics.

"We recognize the importance of creating a leadership culture, of creating that sense of pride and excitement to be a leader for the state of California," says Webb, a graduate of Leadership for the Government Executive. "Leadership is not static. We're constantly being challenged to be effective leaders."

Webb sees The Portfolio closing the leadership gap. The Portfolio requires

The state operates on people and you want them well-trained. This program raises the competency level of supervisors and managers and that will trickle down. Their units become efficient and that will save taxpayers money.

participants to practice communicating effectively and motivating others, while reflecting on their abilities as leaders.

"The state of California recognizes the importance of leadership skills in engaging employees and creating a productive workforce," says Christine Irion ’95 (Sociology-Women's Studies), MA ’98 (Educational Administration), CCE's director of extension programs. "The expectation is that state leaders will develop and inspire the workforce, not just manage it. The Portfolio helps participants understand that difference and shift to the new mindset."

Robert Ullrey ‘03 (Government) went from Leadership for the Government Manager to Leadership for the Government Executive while he advanced at the Department of General Services from a specialist working on legislation to a manager in the procurement division. Ullrey says The Portfolio gave him a shared understanding of what leadership looks like.

In practice, it means empowering his staff "to do what they need to do, to get them the resources and allow them to succeed."

Eric Mandell, also a graduate of Leadership for the Government Executive, is Ullrey's boss and nominated him and others for the program.

"These are the future leaders of our department. They are smart, they have expertise and this program allows them to take their leadership skills to the next level."

As she continues on her leadership track, Leung believes the public investment pays off for everyone.

"The state operates on people and you want them well-trained," she says. "This program raises the competency level of supervisors and managers and that will trickle down. Their units become efficient and that will save taxpayers money."

To learn more about The Portfolio or other training programs offered by the College of Continuing Education, visit www.cce.csus.edu or call Christine Irion at (916) 278-4809.

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