Leading with Influence

People sitting around board room table discussing

Leading with Influence helps employees to exercise informal leadership and co-elevate* with colleagues to improve their work and place of work. Participants will learn to move in and out of informal leadership roles, mobilize others towards a common goal, and influence colleagues while maintaining collegial relationships.   *co-elevate: rising together by helping one another


This program recognizes the critical work done by informal leaders all over campus and provides support for faculty and staff engaged in this form of leadership. An informal leader may be leading interdisciplinary or cross-functional teams; they may be animating or coordinating the efforts of a network of people; they may be seen by their colleagues as someone who can bring together people to achieve a common goal – and they do this without any formal, managerial authority over the people they are leading. Faculty and staff with supervisory responsibilities may also lead colleagues informally.

Leading with Influence features a variety of components and activities, including:

  • Connection and contribution: An exploration of what calls us to leadership, the need for diverse thought, and the value of community, based on traditional Cree teachings of leadership.
  • Core leadership training: Foundational leadership training that develops inquiry, listening, facilitation skills, and more. Try a wide variety of tools in class before testing them in your own context.
  • Passion project: A self-defined project that you aspire to lead.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion: Consider how to practice inclusive leadership.
  • Generative collaboration fair: Experience different strategies that challenge your (and others’) thinking and generate a variety of possibilities.
  • World cafe and celebration: The final afternoon, where the group reflects on its learnings and celebrates with one another, its supervisors and special guests.

Review Program Syllabus Program FAQ


In spring/summer 2023, we conducted cross-campus consultations to better understand what effective informal leadership at UofA looks like and what the professional development needs of (aspiring) informal leaders are.
Read more about the consultations that informed the design.


Leading with Influence is open to all faculty and staff. It is specifically designed to assist faculty and staff members who seek to be a force for positive change and build leadership skills in their current role. It does not explicitly prepare faculty or staff to transition into formal supervisory roles, although the mindset and skill set developed in the program (and practiced overtime) would be beneficial for those seeking advancement opportunities.


Jess Robinson Lychak

Jess Robinson Lychak

Lead facilitator

Jess is a thought partner for leaders who are hungry to learn. She has years of expertise coaching and training executives and teams in the skills of developing trust and accountability, resolving conflict, and enhancing performance. Jess has held leadership roles in not-for-profit arts organizations and the health care sector. She has a Master’s degree in Leadership Development from Royal Roads University and is a Professional Certified Coach. A former actor and director, Jess brings creativity and fun to the design and facilitation of leadership programs.

Kerri Robinson

Kerri Robinson

Lead facilitator

Kerri has always been fascinated by the process of change and how systems can be transformed through precision and critical thinking. Kerri has studied change, as part of her Master's of Business Administration (leadership specialization), and she has led change in her previous role steering high-stakes capital projects with Alberta Health Services. Kerri currently co-facilitates leadership development sessions with her partner and is a research associate with Royal Roads University on a project related to the intersections between climate change and the health care system. She has a diploma in solution-focused coaching from Erickson International and is working towards her Associate Certified Coach designation.

Karen MacKenzie

Karen MacKenzie

Facilitator, Indigenous approaches to leadership

Karen is a proud Cree-Métis woman. She is the Co-Founder and President of MacKintosh Canada and serves as an Elder with Edmonton Catholic Schools and Indigenous Services Canada. She is also a Mentor with the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program at St. Francis Xavier University. Karen has a Master’s of Business Administration and held academic leadership posts at the University of Lethbridge and Grant MacEwan College. She brings her traditional knowledge into the contemporary workplace and is committed to the co-creation of a healthy and safe workplace that is inclusive, engaging, and respectful of the land, culture, and aspirations of all but particularly Indigenous peoples.

Leslie Weigl Headshot

Leslie Weigl

Facilitator, Decision-making

Leslie became comfortable with formal consensus about 25 years ago, first as a counselor in a UN youth organization and then during grassroots mobilization efforts at the historic World Trade Organization meetings ("Battle in Seattle"), when thousands of people used consensus to coordinate citizen action. In her role as UAlberta's Global Education Coordinator, Leslie applied consensus in student governance at the International House residence for over 20 years. As I-House alumni moved on in the world, Leslie heard about consensus being applied during an economic crisis in Iceland, as part of an award-winning robotics business, and in software development at Amazon. In Leslie's most recent work as NAIT's Intercultural Specialist, she is using Story Circles with staff to practice "listening to understand", an essential aspect of consensus building.


Leading with Influence is a seven-day, cohort-based program. This program will next be offered in the fall term.

REVISED program dates are as follows:

  • October 2, 2024: Virtual welcome/introductory session (10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
  • October 17 & 18, 2024 (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • November 5 & 6, 2024 (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • November 19 & 20, 2024 (9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m.)
  • December 4, 2024* (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

*Participants and program guests will be invited to join the closing celebration on the afternoon of December 4, 2024 (time/location TBC).

For successful completion, participants are expected to:

  • Attend all the sessions.
  • Complete pre-work prior to the first class (approximately 2 hours).
  • Complete homework between sessions (approximately 2-3 hours per week).


The training costs $650. This fee helps to cover the costs associated with:

  • Expert facilitation
  • Reference materials
  • Meal on the first day of training; refreshments throughout

Applicants are encouraged to apply for funding through the Human Resources Development Fund (support staff) or use their Professional Expense Reimbursement Program (academic and managerial staff). Applicants should apply directly to the program as soon as possible and, separately, to HRDF on or after September 1st, when funding for the third quarter opens. If funds from HRDF are awarded, they can be transferred directly from the Fund to program organizers.

If a spot in Leading with Influence is offered, payment is required to secure the spot. Payment can be made via credit card, indent or, where applicable, direct withdrawal from the Human Resources Development Fund. Payment options and instructions will be given at the time of offer.


There are 30 spaces available.


We are accepting applications until September 16, 2024 at 9:00am. Please ensure that BOTH parts of the application are submitted by the deadline.

Application (to be completed by potential participant)

Supervisor endorsement (to be completed by participant’s supervisor)*

Applicants will be notified about the status of their application the week of September 16th. In the event that there are more qualified applicants than spaces:

1) we will strive for diverse faculty/department representation and consider the date your application was submitted in our selection process, so please submit your application as early as possible.

2) qualified applicants will be waitlisted. Please continue to reserve the training dates until October 2. If space does not open up by October 2, we will offer you priority registration in a future offering.

*Applicants are responsible to share the endorsement form with their supervisor and ensure it is submitted before the deadline.