University of Delaware Associate in Arts Program students from Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown participated in a Challenge Program leadership workshop held Friday, Jan. 9, in the Perkins Student Center.
The program included a leadership development and team-building seminar led by staff from UD’s Blue Hen Leadership Program, and was capped by a visit to the Launch Trampoline Park.
The Blue Hen Leadership Program offers workshops that focus on personal and organizational leadership, communication, global understanding, community stewardship and management skills.
Latoya Watson, academic adviser for the Associate in Arts Program in the College of Arts and Sciences, welcomed the 21 workshop participants and urged them get to know each other and to learn basic leadership concepts.
“New students don’t always know what to expect, but we will build to your strengths,” Watson said. “We recommend that you get involved, become a leader and participate in a leadership conference.”
Watson also recommended that Associate in Arts Program students become familiar with the many services offered by UD’s Career Services Center.
Matthew Creasy, assistant director in the Leadership Development Office of University Student Centers, highlighted the five exemplary leadership practices as detailed by authors James Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in their book Leadership Challenge.
Published by Wiley in 1987, the book is based on thousands of written responses to a survey examining individual leadership performance.
The five exemplary leadership practices described by Kouzes and Posner include “Model the Way,” “Inspire a Shared Vision,” “Challenge the Process,” “Enable Others to Act” and “Encourage the Heart.”
“Leadership can be effortless and can become a habit,” Creasy said. “You can make someone’s life better just by doing little things.”
Leadership, Creasy noted, is a relational process of people guided by values and working together to accomplish goals that make a difference and benefit the common good.
To inspire a shared vision, Creasy said individuals have to know where they are going with an idea or project and how to get there.
“In his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King talked about what people could be doing,” Creasy said. “Dr. King used descriptive language to talk about shared aspirations and things that people could identify with.”
Challenging the process can include a desire to effect change while looking for ways to innovate and improve, Creasy said.
“You have to be willing to experiment and take risks, and to generate small wins,” Creasy said. “Learn from the experience and search for opportunities by seizing the initiative.”
Fostering collaboration through trust building, facilitating relationships and helping others to develop confidence are great ways to enable others to act, Creasy noted.
Ways to encourage the heart include recognizing the contributions of others and showing an appreciation for individual excellence, Creasy said.
“Celebrate the smallest victories by creating a spirit of community,” Creasy said. “Perhaps the most important thing is to model your values, take risks and learn from your mistakes.”
The seminar concluded with the participants forming small groups charged with building a vehicle from parts purchased with a team budget of an imaginary $1,000.
Each team was to have a leader, builder, architect, accountant and observer, and had to cope with unforeseen problems, which included recalls and having to give back a large portion of their assigned budget.
Creasy also urged students to visit the Student Central website and learn about the many potential leadership opportunities offered by participation among the 400-plus registered student organizations (RSOs) listed there.
Reaction to the seminar was positive. Howard Fishman, academic adviser in the Associate in Arts Program located at Delaware Technical Community College’s Wilmington campus, said, “It was nice having people working together who had not met before today.”
Matthew Selba, a junior statistics major with a minor in math and economics, and a student assistant in the Blue Hen Leadership Program, said, “It was nice seeing students collaborating and thinking about values. Everyone was engaged.”
Isaiah Faison, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, added, “The workshop changed the way I think about leadership.”
Deja Crippen, a freshman physical therapy major said, “I liked the idea that they got us to talk to each other. The workshop has given me a broader idea of what leadership is really about.”
Chandler Foresta, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “I learned that to be a good leader you need to talk to people and set clear goals. I thought it was a great experience.”
Watson said that students also enjoyed their time at Launch Trampoline Park, because it provided them with an opportunity to connect with each other outside the classroom.
“As commuter students, they do not typically get to participate in co-curricular activities,” Watson said. “They met their counterparts from other campuses and bonded over dodge ball, jumping into the pit and practicing their trampoline moves.”
Students also appreciated the concepts presented at the leadership workshop, Watson said.
“During lunch, the students continued their conversations on their definition of leadership, and they also discussed major and career plans and the extracurricular activities they would like to pursue on the main campus,” Watson said. “I was very pleased that the students were so interested in getting involved.”
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Evan Krape