The Faculty Empowerment and Leadership Academy Project: Organizational Theory, Values, and Ethics

ASCCC Secretary
North Representative

Ethical beliefs outline more and less desirable behaviors, based on a set of underlying values (White & Wooten, 1985).
This academic year, the Faculty Empowerment and Leadership Academy (FELA) project aims to create a yearlong experience to inform participants about organizational theory, values, and ethics. Organizational theory provides intervention strategies for conscious organizational change and includes three primary change areas: the team, organization processes, and responsibilities. The strategies encompass effective approaches and techniques to facilitate change within organizations. Burke and Bradford (as cited in Anderson, 2012) define organizational theory as a “system wide process of planned change aimed toward improving overall organization effectiveness by way of enhancing congruence of such key organizational dimensions as external environment, mission, strategy, leadership, culture, structure, information and reward systems, and work policies and procedures.” Additionally, organizational theory provides broad behavioral science techniques applicable to organizational development. The practical application theories that FELA participants can use are integral to achieving organizational goals and success with marketing, information technology, operations, human resources, and communications.

As part of the FELA project, the Faculty Leadership Development Committee of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has been charged with impacting the leadership experience of community college faculty members. The FELA 2023-2024 project mission is as follows:

  • To Connect: Provide one-on-one mentoring to diverse faculty for personal and professional development with mentors who are campus leaders or administrators.
  • To Empower: Create safe, brave spaces for courageous conversations to investigate equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and anti-racism, to share personal and collective experiences on race, privilege, and oppression, and to embolden new faculty leaders to advocate for transformative change on their campuses.
  • To Guide: Provide networking opportunities and share guidance for navigating and improving systems of higher education. Mentors will address the specific goals of the mentees.

The enhanced experience of participants will foster professional learning in a mentorship cohort model. Implementing the FELA project will require building an effective leadership team governed by strong ethical practices and principles. The work will begin by orienting participants to the leadership development project and establishing cohesiveness with a shared goal. The process will include meetings with a check-in aspect where participants share personal learning and successful experiences. The facilitation process will feature four core values adopted from The Skilled Facilitator that include valid information, free and informed choices, internal commitment, and compassion (Argyris & Schon, as cited in Schwarz, 2002).
The development and enhancement of community by the team will be driven by five principles:

  • Engagement of Stakeholders to Implement Change
    Participants will learn about ASCCC statewide collaborative approaches with the understanding that creating positive change in the California Community Colleges system is a complex undertaking. It involves implementing and complimenting many aspects of transformational leadership in order to be successful. An important component of change is the engagement of all stakeholders in the transformation to design and understand a process that engages all those involved early in the change. Stakeholders must believe that collegiality and progress is far better and more successful than battling over details (McKee, Boyatzis, & Johnstone, 2008).
  • Authenticity of Communication
    Participants will work within the foundational framework that is key to any type of effective change, culturally responsive and compassionate communication. Ensuring that communication is candid, anti-racist, and inclusive improves leader credibility. Naming and addressing conflicts and barriers to student success is vital to transformational change and an essential part of establishing authentic communication. Change tends to bring about employee engagement that may be extra sensitive to tone, candor, and concern. (Anderson, Anderson & Ackerman, 2010). Through effective and intentionally affirming communication, a change leader, or a positive emotional attractor, can express energy and excitement that builds momentum to successful change in an organization (McKee, Boyatzis, Johnstone, 2008). Fundamental to authentic communication is, as reflected in the ASCCC community agreements, to “Communicate with respect and humility: recognize personal biases and avoid making assumptions when interacting with others.”
  • Empathy
    Compassion is empathy in action (McKee, Boyatzis, & Johnstone, 2008). Hope and compassion bring about a feeling of renewal. This form of social awareness can help participants and leaders to enhance their understanding of others as they develop better, affirming communication and perspective of those they work with (Bradberry, Greaves, & 2009). Organizational leaders within the California Community Colleges system need to understand the impact of their ability to empathize on those that they work with.
  • Relationship Management
    Relationship management in this project will relate to participants’ social competence. Relationship building coincides with the management of the bonds that are built with constituents over time. Collaboration lends itself to a strong relationship, which in turn makes implementing change easier. Social competence is one of the primary competencies of emotional intelligence. It involves social awareness and relationship management. The key to this competence is the ability to read the room and understand the mood, motives, and behavior of those around one with the goal of improving relationships (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009).
  • Maintaining a Sense of Stability in Chaos
    Organizations must maintain stability even through the course of change. Participants must reflect on the question, “What is our core purpose?” (Anderson, Anderson, & Ackerman, 2010). Core purpose stabilization and shared values provide the basis for alignment. FELA participants will embrace their responsibility in understanding and collaborating with all those in the California Community Colleges system who will be affected by students’ successful outcomes through all the change that is being implemented.

FELA 2023-2024 Mission

In accomplishing its mission and operating from the aforementioned principles, FELA 2023-2024 will focus on the development of faculty from historically underrepresented groups in higher education, aligning directly with one of four ASCCC 2023-2026 Strategic Plan directions, “Developing Innovative Activities to Empower Faculty and Uplift Underrepresented Voices.” The project will provide opportunities to connect with leaders from across the state, to empower faculty to seek leadership roles, and to benefit from regular contact with mentors. All activities in this leadership development project are designed to ensure participants are ready to meet the challenges and see the excellence in transformative leadership and equity-minded approaches that will help them better work with and serve diverse student populations.

Lessons to Be Learned Regarding Challenges to Holding Organizational Theory Values

  • Financial and economic tensions: During FELA project meeting sessions, participants may have to accept ideas that do not fit with their values, keeping those values secondary to decisions that directly benefit students. This challenge is referred to as a “tension being driven by ego gratification, personal success, and financial rewards versus championing traditional humanistic values in the consulting process” according to Church et al. (as cited in Anderson, 2012).
  • The push to see organizational theory in action as technology: The FELA project leadership team will support participants implementing new technological success strategies that may have been overshadowed by core historical practices, values on which andragogy is based, or the necessity of implementation. “Many practitioners have become routine in their applications; they have succumbed to management pressure for the quick fix, the emphasis on the bottom line, and the cure-all mentality…. They seem to have lost sight of the core values of the field” (Margulies and Raia, as cited in Anderson, 2012).
  • Management culture and expectations: Tensions may exist between the California community college expectations of cost-effective practices that produce immediate results versus valuable team consulting analysis. The leadership team will encourage participants to identify and operationalize principles versus institutional practices, procedures, and values that may produce tension surrounding implementation strategies.
  • Research: The FELA project seeks to orient participants to research data aimed to empower, connect, and guide faculty leaders.


Anderson, D. (2012). Organizational development: The process of leading organizational change (2nd ed.). California SAGE Publications.
Anderson, D., & Ackerman-Anderson, L. S. (2010). Beyond change management: how to achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership. (2nd Ed.). Pfeiffer.
Bradberry, T. & Greavis, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Talent Smart.
McKee, A., Boyatzis, R. & Johnston, F.E. (2008). Becoming a resonant leader: Develop your emotional intelligence, renew your relationships, sustain your effectiveness. Harvard Business School Press.
Schwarz, R. (2002). The Skilled Facilitator. Jossey-Bass.
White, L. P., & Wooten, K. C. (1985).  Professional ethics and practice in organizational development. Praeger.