Developing Academic Leadership: A Faculty Professional Development Program in Zambia

Current and future faculty leaders at the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Mulungushi University are benefitting from a training program that promotes effective leadership and management in education and healthcare by guiding trainees to strengthen their competencies in effectively leading teams. The Strengthening Health Professional Workforce Education Programs for Improved Quality Health Care in Zambia (SHEPIZ) Leadership and Management Program was developed by faculty and students from UNZA, Mulungushi University, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH). Drs. Fastone Goma, Patricia Katowa-Mukwato, and Selestine Nzala lead the program in Zambia with support from Dr. Marie Martin and Elizabeth Rose at VIGH.

training group
SHEPIZ Leadership and Management Program trainees and leaders


This program was recently piloted among twenty faculty lecturers in the Schools of Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing Sciences, and Public Health at UNZA. Through active learning modules, trainees explored prominent theories and strategies in leadership and management to develop core leadership competencies, helping them become more effective leaders in education, research, and health care. 

Dr. Goma, PI of the SHEPIZ grant, described the need for the program at these universities. “The training in leadership and management is quite novel to both UNZA and Mulungushi University in that these disciplines have not been considered as core competencies for lecturers in the past. Lecturers ought to have competencies for leadership since they lead faculty teams and teams of student teams pursuing research in academia.” This program provides opportunities for faculty to hone their leadership practice across an array of competencies.

The curriculum, which includes nine modules, was taught over three day-long workshops. Modules cover broad elements of leadership including team building, effective communication, conflict management, critical thinking, change management, and diversity and inclusion. To develop a greater understanding of these leadership elements, trainees engaged in small and large group discussions, tackled complex situations through case studies, and drafted individual leadership philosophies. 

SHEPIZ training
Professor Goma and Marie Martin leading discussion

Speaking about the program’s impact, program leader Dr. Katowa-Mukwato commented that, “The leadership and management training program has the potential to positively impact the future research and educational outcomes for Mulungushi University and UNZA as we strive for excellence in teaching, research, and education management.” This sentiment was further explained by Dr. Goma, “This program opens a chapter that will be considered very important in the progression of academia especially as young lecturers take up the position of leadership. We hope that this training improves not only their capacities in leadership and management but that it will guide their practice of leadership.” This training has the potential to shift education and research through guiding faculty in their leadership practice.


The practice of leadership is already shifting among trainees. “This training will have great positive impact as it will change our understanding and approach both as leaders and managers. We will be more open minded, accommodating, and inclusive in the teams that we work with,” described one trainee after the program. Another trainee noted, “I will be using these skills on a daily basis among my co-workers and students to effectively manage the day-to-day affairs of my institution.” The concepts taught in this program have begun to shift trainees’ approaches and interactions as they lead their teams.

SHEPIZ Leadership and Management Program trainees

Trainees completed pre- and post-workshop surveys designed to measure change in their knowledge, skills, and attitudes as well as to inform quality improvements for future training. Focus groups after the workshop provided additional insight to program efficacy, strengths, and opportunities for growth. In program evaluations, trainees commented that the leadership concepts taught in this program were “eye opening” and that they will be better able to lead their teams through conflicts and to solve problems. Trainees also described gaining a better understanding of social and emotional intelligences needed to manage their workload and to manage individuals on their teams. A full program evaluation is underway and findings from the evaluation will be used to shape future trainings.

Program leaders plan to offer this course quarterly to faculty beginning in June 2021. The program incorporates a “train-the-trainer” model in which select alumni will be invited to lead future course iterations, creating a pipeline of facilitators and helping ensure sustainability of this program.

Faculty who helped develop program content and lead the workshops included Martha Banda, Angela Bwalya, Fastone Goma, Marjorie Kabinga-Makukula, Patricia Katwoa-Mukwato, Violet Kayamba, Concepta Kwaleyela, Lubinda Mukolo, Sody Munsaka, Selestine Nzala, and Ruth Wahila. Content development was supported by Marie Martin, Elizabeth Rose, Tessa Bales, Lorely Chavez, Cameron Richey, Chase Stober, Victoria Umutoni, and Caitlin Washburn.

The SHEPIZ Leadership and Management Program is supported by National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, grant number 1R25TW011219.