Vivica Xiong, United Board

Investing in Leadership Development
An Interview with Vivica Xiong

Vivica Xiong is the United Board’s Director, Leadership Development.

What are some of your goals for leadership development programs?
I hope to increase educators’ awareness of their leadership roles and potential. Through our programs, we can enhance their skills as strategists, collaborators, communicators and storytellers, financial managers and fundraisers, and academic and intellectual leaders. In this way, we can build institutional capacity with faculty and staff who are capable of taking their college or university to the next level.

Where do we find leaders or potential leaders for higher education?
Leadership is more than a title or position – you don’t have to have a formal position in order to lead. My own view on leadership was transformed after my time spent at the University of California, Berkeley as a W.T. Chan Fellow. Berkeley has a community-based, grassroots approach to service, and is a pioneer in service-learning. At an orientation for students involved in their service activities, I learned that leaders can be individuals working as change-makers. That notion is important to me and influences how I design our leadership programs. I want educators to see that they are first and foremost leaders in the classroom, where they can inspire change in younger generations.

What is the United Board’s strategy for leadership development?
We are moving toward a more integrated approach that will provide a range of resources. Our framework is both horizontal – working at national, regional, and Asia-wide levels – and vertical – with training for junior, midcareer, and senior leaders.

Our United Board Fellows Program shows how we translate our philosophy of whole person education into leadership development. The Fellows Program is both informational and transformational. Informational, because leaders need continuous learning opportunities to build skills in strategic development, communications, finance, and fundraising. Transformational, because leadership begins with self-exploration. That’s one reason why we use psychometric assessment in the Fellows Program – to help leaders discover who they are and what they are good at, to find their voice, and, ultimately, to become a better leader. We hope to incorporate best practices from the Fellows Program, accumulated over the past two decades, into our other leadership initiatives, so that more educators can benefit.

Are there other ways to promote leadership?
There is a lack of literature and research on Asian higher education leadership. So one of our goals is to establish leadership hubs in Asia that can develop scholarship on Asian higher education leadership. These hubs could do this through expanding their research capacity, developing local talents through leadership training, and creating a framework for Asian leadership development.

The United Board has done some unique work in leadership development, and our network institutions have much to offer. It’s time to work more closely with our network institutions and to consolidate, leverage, and share these resources so that we can better train the next wave of leaders.

Please visit our Leadership Development page for further information.