Distributed and collaborative: Experiences of local leadership of a first-year experience program
Local level leadership of the first year experience (FYE) is critical for engaging academic and professional staff in working collaboratively on a whole of institution focus on student transition and success. This paper describes ways in which local informal leadership is experienced at faculty level in an institutional FYE program, based on interviews with faculty coordinators and small grant recipients. Initial analysis using the distributed leadership tenets described by Jones, Hadgraft, Harvey, Lefoe, and Ryland (2014) revealed features that enabled success, such as collaborative communities, as well as faculty differences influenced by the strength of the external mandate for change in the FYE. More fine-grained analysis indicated further themes in engaging others, enabling and enacting the FYE program that fostered internal mandates for change: gaining buy-in; being opportunistic; making use of evidence of success and recognition; along with the need for collegial support for coordinators and self-perceptions of leadership being about making connections, collaboration, trust and expertise.