Twitter & blogging the practices, attributes, actions and outcomes of high quality leadership programs

On this ProgramInnovation blog and on my Twitter page I will be trying something new. This will be a a new kind of learning experience or a new way to share research. I’ve  done a few articles, and am finishing a book on high quality leadership programs but thought I would try to use social media to share the key findings that could help people create, develop, and facilitate high quality leadership programs. In the grounded theory model of high quality leadership programs I created from my research, there are 3 clusters of best practices which contain a total of 16 attributes which are enacted by 40 actions and relate to impacting 34 outcomes. Over the course of the upcoming weeks I will blog about each attribute and it’s actions and outcomes and will also share the core information on twitter. So if you tune in you should be able to learn some tips for creating or enhancing your leadership program. Perhaps one of the attributes or actions will validate something you are doing or perhaps you will gain a new idea for something to integrate into your leadership program. For more information on the study that produced these findings see the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies article:
Eich, D. (2008). A Grounded Theory of High-Quality Leadership Programs: Perspectives From Student Leadership Development Programs in Higher Education. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15(2), 176-187.

Systematic innovation as a key leadership skill: Learning innovation activities through online workshops

I began by research interest focused on leadership programs, which is a large focus because there is so much to a leadership program and so many different kinds of things a person can learn from such a program. About four years ago I narrowed my focus within leadership programs to look at those kinds of things we can teach in programs that people can actually not only learn but also do within the program. The key thing I became interested in was innovation, specifically the thinking part of innovation, namely idea generation. I saw this as a critical leadership skill that should be learned and practiced. People can generate ideas within programs so I set out to discover different methods and activities that people could learn and do to innovate and brainstorm more systematically. I’ve done a number of webinars on this topic and in 2009 integrated it all together and did a 4 part webinar series on systematic idea generation and innovation. The webinar series turned out to exceed my expectations and we had a number of organizations from across the globe join us for the live course we did each week. Now the recordings, handouts, and accompanying materials from this webinar series are available online at This is more of an “online workshop” since the purpose is for the learners to do a series of activities for their own innovation project rather than passively just sitting back and watching. I would like to do more innovation workshops like this where we customize the projects to a specific challenge or organization.

2009 National Leadership Symposium: Leadership in a Global Context

The National Leadership Symposium is one of my favorite small conferences for leadership educators. Here is the key information for the July 9-12 2009 Conference at University of Richmond from the NCLP website:

Now in its 19th year, the National Leadership Symposium is a professional development experience designed for faculty members, student affairs professionals and other education practitioners involved with promoting college student leadership education.

The National Leadership Symposium is a joint program coordinated by the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs (NCLP). Given the intense learning environment of the Symposium (included required reading prior to attending) it is advised that participants have significant professional experience in leadership education. Registration is limited to 50 people.

This year’s symposium will explore the meaning of leadership in a global context. According to many practitioners and scholars global leadership is an emerging field that seeks to understand and explain the impact of globalization processes on leadership. Our scholar authors will provide theoretical frameworks and practical considerations for this exploration. They will also provide thoughtful discourse and perspectives on what it means to prepare students for a global society. Participants will engage in rich dialogue and examine the intentional development of programs that can support students’ understanding of the emerging language, style and practice of leadership, which fully values and takes into account an international viewpoint. The concept of cultures interrelatedness and interdependence will be discussed as these connections relate to the establishment of global priorities and mobilization toward purposeful action.

Learning objectives of the 2009 Symposium include:

    * Understand the qualities and attribute of global leaders.
    * Identify key competencies and concrete experiences that influence global leadership development.
    * Acknowledge the distinct differences of Western Cultural approaches to leadership within the global context.
    * Consider the intersection of Western Culture and the global perspective
    * Provide participants with a foundation to support students in making meaning of what leadership signifies in a global context.
    * Creation of a network of practitioners, educators and scholars that explores and informs a current understanding of leadership in a global context.

Interview about Leadership Retreats: Advantages and Integration into Programs

I did a short interview recently about developing leadership retreats. Here is the text from Magna Publications:

Student Affairs Leader recently interviewed Eich about the topic in preparation for the live event.

SAL: What advantages do retreats have over other leadership development experiences?

Eich: In traditional leadership program activities, students might meet on campus only once every couple of weeks, if that often. In contrast, a retreat is intensive. Instead of spending eight hours learning about leadership over eight sessions during a semester, they spend eight hours learning in one day. And because the retreat is nonstop, students must participate in the entire experience; in semester-long programs, they can skip sessions.

Because students are together in retreats for a longer continuous time block, they can warm up and extend their comfort zones to have better, deeper conversations. Also, retreats are often offsite, overnight, and feature different ways of learning, such as using problem-based learning, ropes courses, and other activities that are more creative than traditional lectures. Students learn leadership best by doing it and reflecting on it. A retreat also offers students a special place to step back and reflect on what they do and who they are.

SAL: Should retreats be “stand alone” experiences, or should they be part of a larger leadership development program?

Eich: Retreats can be stand alone or part of a larger program. If a leadership program is just starting, a great way to begin is by offering a retreat and growing from there. This gets a group of students involved and gives them an intensive learning experience as well as interest in being a part of or even co-creating other leadership program sessions. So you can grow a larger program from that first retreat.

Also, leadership learning and retreats can be offered by a wide variety of college departments—they don’t always need to be owned by the leadership program office. Residence life, student government, multicultural student organizations, religious organizations, Greek life, athletics, or even the English department can offer a retreat and help students learn about leadership and themselves. These departments can hold single retreats that then plug students into the larger leadership program on campus.

Any larger leadership program should have a retreat component. Most begin the year as well as end the year with a retreat. The retreats have become great campus traditions and catalysts for deeper involvement, learning, and development for students.

Accelerating Learning and Development with Student Leadership Retreats Article Published in January 2009 Issue of Student Affairs Leader

I have another article from my dissertation on high quality leadership programs published in the January 2009 issue of Student Affairs Leader. The title is: Accelerating Learning and Development with Student Leadership Retreats. A well-designed leadership retreat can be one of the most memorable, powerful parts of a student leader’s college experience. You can learn more about retreats and also access the article online at:

Student Leadership Retreats: Research-based Best Practices Online Seminar

I’ll be doing another online seminar with Student
Affairs Leader on January 29th. The one I did in the Fall was about
high quality leadership programs and this upcoming one will focus on
leadership retreats. Here is the description they created about the
seminar. I’m looking forward to digging deeper on a favorite topic:

Leadership Retreats: Research-based Best Practices

Featured Higher Education Presenter:
Darin Eich, Ph.D.

Are you looking for ways to create more effective student
leadership retreats?

and conferences that are student-centered and facilitated have been shown
by research to help students develop as leaders. At these conferences,
students create and facilitate activities themselves and as a result come
away with positive learning and leadership development experiences.

of the benefits of supporting your students in directly facilitating their
learning at a retreat—as opposed to having them learn through
lectures or other teacher-centered formats—is that you can spend more
time evaluating the impact of their learning both at the conferences and on
campus afterward.

you can learn firsthand how to achieve more effective and meaningful
student leadership retreats by attending our new online learning seminar on
January 29. Led by Dr. Darin Eich, Student Leadership Retreats: Research-Based Best
will give you helpful tips,
resources and success stories for creating and facilitating a quality
student leadership conference.

Eich is a nationally renowned authority on college student leadership
experiences. During this insightful, information-packed 90-minute seminar,
he will:

Provide you with ideas for creating a new retreat or enhancing an existing
• Show you how to structure a conference that emphasizes learning and
• Discuss how to facilitate a retreat without lectures while getting
better results.
• Demonstrate how to implement successful conference activities.
• Connect retreat practices with research on student leadership
• Help you understand different characteristics of successful
• Explain how to improve retreat assessment and planning.

addition, during the seminar,
Dr. Eich will show you how to create a variety of potential activities to
use with students. As a result, you will actually spend time at this
seminar on developing activities that you can use for a future conference.

this live, interactive
, you will also have a chance to ask questions and to
get responses directly from Dr. Eich, whose research shows that retreats
that offer students positive, engaging activities and practices succeed in
attaining desired learning and leadership development outcomes.

is a great opportunity to learn from an expert on student leadership
development, as Dr. Eich currently consults with colleges across the
country on developing and facilitating innovative, high-quality student
leadership programs and conferences. Join us and
get the research-based knowledge and practical insights that you need to:

Create a new retreat or strengthen an existing one.
• Structure a conference that emphasizes learning and relationships.
• Get better results without using lectures.
• Implement retreat activities successfully.
• Improve conference assessment and planning.

Article in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

My article entitled “A Grounded Theory of High-Quality Leadership Programs” was just published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. You can access the article from the hard copy of the Journal or from the website. Aside from the actual dissertation, this will be the most thorough presentation of the theory and methodology. There are other articles forthcoming that will focus on the theory in practice and actions individuals can take to enact the attributes of high quality leadership programs. The abstract of the article is as follows:

Drawing on the experiences and perspectives of multiple stakeholders closely associated with diverse types of successful student leadership programs, the purpose of this study was to identify the attributes of leadership programs—including the specific actions associated with these attributes—that contribute significantly to undergraduate student leadership development. A total of 62 interviews was conducted with individuals across the four programs in the sample. The researcher employed the constant comparative method to construct a grounded theory model. The theory of high-quality leadership programs developed in this study is grounded in those programmatic attributes that, when enacted, contribute significantly to enhancing student learning and leadership development. The data analysis revealed 16 attributes of high-quality leadership programs organized into three clusters: (a) participants engaged in building and sustaining a learning community; (b) student-centered experiential learning experiences; and (c) research-grounded continuous program development.

2008 International Leadership Association Conference

The International Leadership Association Conference is in Los Angeles this year in November. It is a big conference and one I’ve enjoyed attending. Consider it and joining ILA if you are interested in leadership education. Here is the announcement from ILA:

Global Leadership: Portraits of the Past, Visions for the Future
November 12-15, 2008
Los Angeles, CA, USA (Hyatt Regency Century Plaza)

is now available at our new online registration site:

Conference highlights include:

Keynotes by Christine Loh, Jay Conger, and Connie Rice.

Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremonies for Manfred Kets de Vries, James
MacGregor Burns, Warren Bennis, and Frances Hesselbein. Ceremonies include
remarks from each recipient.

100+ simultaneous sessions plus a special session of roundtable and a
special poster session.

Author book signing and reception, Connecting for Change event (co-sponsored
by the Dalai Lama Center) and the Global Mindset Inventory (with Mansour
Javidan, Thunderbird School of Global Management).

Complete conference details including draft session agenda, are available

Leadership for life for what? The journey towards finding your calling.

An important thing to think about in leadership programs is “What to I want to do leadership for?” What do I want to do with my life? It seems that people want more than a job…they want a calling. What we’ve found is that finding your calling is more of a journey than a destination. People are continuously discovering, creating, and innovating themselves. This journey of discovery, creation, and experience gives a person insight on what they can do with their life. A concept I like, “Innovate Yourself,” is about creating an idea for who you can become based on who you are and then developing and taking action on that. It is a constant journey, but after all, the journeys are more fun than the destination in many cases. Finding our calling is not solo journey, it is one we can take with our friends and people we may have never even met before. We can help each other out.

ThroughCollege created a Facebook Application called “What’s My Calling?” This is an activity that can be used with students in leadership programs…a way of bringing Facebook in to programming. The description of the application/activity is this: “What should you do with your life? Have your friends help you figure it out! What’s My Calling helps you find a career that matches your personality by asking the people who know you best…your friends! Or….if you don’t feel like thinking about your career right now you can suggest to your friends what careers they should pursue!”
Here is the philosophy behind this application. When you know who you are from your experiences–your strengths, skills, values, and passionate interest–and you know what others know of you, you can combine these to start the journey to find your calling. For this facebook application you identify your career areas, and then most importantly type in specifically your ideas for what your calling is based on what you’ve identified. The powerful part is when you ask friends you know you to do the same for you…and then the app will bring it all together, show you the top career calling areas for you, and show you the ideas and insights your friends typed for you.

How do you think you find your calling? Do you have a good story about the journey towards finding your own calling? How did you learn about yourself, your strengths, passionate interests, and values? What were the memorable and meaningful experiences for you? So, please share your wisdom and send us your own stories, ideas, or resources and we can share them with others on this site.

Salsa, Soul, and Spirit from Juana Bordas: Excellent new multicultural leadership book

Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age

I would like to highlight this book from Juana Bordas as being a refreshing contribution to the world of leadership books. I read it for the National Leadership Symposium and was very engaged with turning the pages. It was filled with excellent stories and metaphors and Juana herself is quite a passionate leader and teacher. In addition to leadership, I learned a lot about other cultures and how they have approached leadership both historically and today. This book would be a great addition to any leadership class or class on diversity. It would be a perfect fit for a multicultural leadership program or course but could be valuable in any setting. Plus, it is an inexpensive book which would make most students happy who have a large burden of buying expensive books for courses.

Stated Description: As the world becomes flatter and globalization creates a world village, it is imperative that leaders have the cultural flexibility and adaptability to inspire and guide people from very distinct backgrounds that represents the whole rainbow of humanity. Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Nation puts forth a multicultural leadership model that integrates eight practices from African American, Indian and Latino communities. Using principles such as “Sankofa,” the ability to learn from the past; “I to We,” From Individualism to collective identity; and “Mi casa es su casa,” Developing a generosity of spirit, this model offers leaders new approaches that will increase their interpersonal effectiveness with diverse populations by incorporating the influences, practices and values of a variety of cultures in a respectful and productive manner.