After some degree of reflection on my career path these days, I’ve noticed that at every stop along my journey I have had some role or charge related to starting a new leadership program. Whether you think of “program” as a leadership event or as a comprehensive four (or five!) year approach, I think a lot of campuses are reinventing their approach to leadership development.
At my campus right now, we are building some momentum around leadership because it’s made its way into the strategic plan. (insert dance of JOY from me!!) This doesn’t mean that we don’t already have existing leadership programs that meet with good success in areas like residence life, athletics and in my office (Student Involvement and Leadership). We’re honestly in pretty deep with these programs in these areas in addition to a couple of isolated academic courses. Even though we’re in the middle of this already, I’m beyond excited for the potential that comes with institutional commitment and potential synergy in collaboration.
So, the light finally shines on an area I’ve been excited to get started for a number (not saying!) of years now on campus…what next? Where do you start when there is finally “permission” to dream for your campus? Join me in some planning and tell me what you think…
- Leading Change by John Kotter is an essential resource for anyone planning a change effort or who is overwhelmed by the change process. Kotter’s fairly straightforward analysis of the change process reminds me to be patient and build momentum around this process. I need to be intentional, build stakeholders, and not rush forward on what I believe needs to get done immediately.
- I don’t think we need to need to choose a leadership model. I think our job is to offer a variety of models in a variety of settings for dialogue about what leadership actually means. If students are able to grow in their personal definition of leadership, then they can pursue activities and opportunities that take their definition deeper.
- There is much to be gained from involvement of student leaders from the beginning of these conversations. I’m hoping to include plans for student interns and directed study projects that let advanced students get the opportunity to influence knowledge about leadership for their peers.
- I believe our goal needs to be a “comprehensive” leadership program that includes…
- Leadership training: Training for positional leaders (RA’s, club officers, etc.) on how to be more effective at managing their responsibilities.
- Leadership development: Campus-wide initiatives to cultivate broader understanding from students that they possess the potential to lead and increase their willingness to accept the challenges of leadership wherever they are presented.
- Leadership education: Educating more students about the art and science of leadership including exploration of leadership models, attributes, skills and case studies.
I am hoping to develop a series of posts about our journey toward connecting our many disparate parts of leadership education efforts on campus. To start, what do YOU think needs to be considered when starting from the ground up… when you’ve already started the pieces a long time ago?
Next time…we’ll talk assessment.