LEAD21 Program


LEAD21 is intended to meet the future needs for leadership development of faculty, specialists, program and team leaders, research station and center directors, district and regional directors, department heads and chairs, and others in land grant universities' colleges of agricultural, environmental,and human sciences and USDA/NIFA.

The primary purpose of LEAD21 is to develop leaders in land grant institutions and their strategic partners who link research, academics, and extension in order to lead more effectively in an increasingly complex environment, either in their current position or as they aspire to other positions.


LEAD21 participants:

  • Enhance application of skills and knowledge learned in nine leadership competencies.
  • Develop a peer leadership network in order to enhance personal leadership practice, collaboration, and diversity of perspective.
  • Develop and implement an individual leadership development process.


The one-year LEAD21 core curriculum includes three sessions and a concurrent individual learning component. Leadership competencies (described below) are enhanced using a combination of exposure, information, knowledge and practice. Session I uses self-assessments to increase awareness of leadership strengths, weaknesses, and styles, and teaches various leadership skills and tools. During Session II, participants visit various university and/or college sites to experience a broad range of institutional types and cultures while focusing on diversity, the land grant system, and leadership in different sectors of society. Session III is in Washington, D.C., or its vicinity, and focuses on public leadership, policy development, and federal legislation, as well as managing change and resources.

Leadership Competencies

The following leadership competencies represent the range of knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and behaviors that are present in participants at many levels. LEAD21 seeks to enhance as many of these competencies as possible and facilitate opportunities for life-long development of all these leadership competencies.

Core Competencies

Developing self and others: to seek and use self-assessment and feedback to enhance understanding and performance; to provide others with appropriate and timely feedback and coaching to enhance performance; to create opportunities for development of self and others; to create long-term self-directed and life-long learning and professional development; to volunteer for and excel at performing various leadership responsibilities, often outside the specific requirements of position or role; to seek feedback on leadership performance from groups and organizations; to use performance objectives and assessment for development; and to create an environment where risk and innovation is rewarded. (Session I, II, III and Self Directed Learning)

Leading with integrity and values: to understand and honor organizational and cultural values; to communicate personal values that influence personal leadership; to demonstrate consistency between espoused values and values in action; to respect the values of others; and to act ethically. (Session I)

Resolving conflict: to use a range of strategies to deal with conflict between self and others; to mediate conflict among others; to recognize the root causes of conflict; to engage in difficult conversations appropriately to both resolve the conflict and strengthen the relationship; to understand the costs of conflict to a group or organization; and to seek outside help or third-party mediation to resolve conflict. (Session I and III)

Fostering collaboration: to see issues and opportunities from many perspectives; to link resources public and private, national and international; to balance the needs and expectations of many stakeholders; and to facilitate programs that collaborate across structural, organizational, and international boundaries. (Session II and III)

Managing change: to recognize the need for innovation without indulging in change for change sake; to have a vision for the future and communicating that to others; to monitor the external and internal environment for trends that anticipate change; to understand the range of reactions to change, including resistance, anxiety, and uncertainty; to develop and implement a change process appropriate to the organization and the degree of change; to provide information and education to facilitate change; and to measure the progress of change and ensure the benefits of change. (Session II)

Secondary Competencies

Communicating effectively: to listen carefully and use questions skillfully to encourage honest responses; to communicate clear, direct, and honest messages to individuals and groups through speaking, writing, and the use of technology; and to maintain composure in stressful situations. (Session I and Self-directed learning)

Valuing diversity: to express cultural sensitivity and awareness of the diversity inherent in and vital to a modern society; to appreciate cultural differences in social and professional settings; to develop language skills to facilitate multi-cultural relationships; to create an organizational culture that values diversity; to build and value collaborations; and to effectively form teams which balance leadership and followership. (Session I and II)

Developing a deeper knowledge and appreciation of higher education: to understand higher education in its many different models; to understand the history and traditions of the land grant system; to compare and contrast different models of higher education public service and outreach; and to understand the role of research, academics, and extension in producing economic, social, and environmental change and how it depends on local, state, and federal partnerships. (Sessions II and III)

Developing and managing resources: to identify resources needed and to develop new resources, including money, people, facilities and equipment; to create business plans for projects; to understand tracking and budgeting principles to monitor resources; to redistribute resources to accomplish key goals or succeed in strategic directions; to make information on resources available to others; and to foster support through state and federal political processes, in both executive and legislative branches. (Self-directed learning)