Valerie Johnson, a graduate student interested in leadership programs synthesized the results of an online brainstorm about leadership program innovation and wrote the following article. This brainstorm is ongoing and you can still add ideas and vote! Thanks for the article Valerie!
A recent brainstorm on brainreactions.net gathered ideas about providing quality and innovative leadership programs. The following questions were posed: “What is the high quality leadership program of the near future like? What practices, activities, features, etc. would be part of a great leadership program? What tips do you have for what works now that should be built upon? What are new ideas for things to include in the program? How can learning, development, and positive outcomes be accelerated?” From this discussion, the responses were coded based on commonalities. From these codes, some primary themes emerged including the selection of students for your leadership programs, how to reach students, the importance of encouraging change, and partnerships.
Selecting a Wide Range of Diverse Students
One suggestion was to select a number of students from a wide range of backgrounds could benefit your program. Because of this, you open the door for students to be exposed to wide range of backgrounds that they may have never encountered before. Helen Keller sums up this thought in her quote: “The highest result of education is tolerance.” Decide how you will select students into your program. Will you use an application, an interview or something different? Is it worth to you know each students leadership story before they enter the program?
Know Your Audience
Remembering who your audience may be essential to the success of your program. Some suggestions stated that many of the current students use current web applications like Facebook and Myspace. Is there a way for you to tie in these applications to recruit students and to assist in the projects completed in your program? Capitalizing on where the students spend time may open the opportunity for leadership to be practiced every day in the normal routines students already have.
Create opportunities for Change
Another highlight from this brainstorm was to encourage the potential for creating a change, as it relates to leadership. A suggestion was given of setting this up as a problem for students to solve while they explore leadership. By having students work to facilitate the process of solving an every day process they gain knowledge on the problem, learn about goal setting, and acquire new organizational skills. Through this process there is a natural opportunity for evaluation, which may be a starting discussion point for you and your student(s).
Partnerships for Mentoring, Advising, and Learning from Others Experience
A final thought to consider when constructing your leadership program is the possibility of collaborating with others to make your program stronger. Partnerships are not always easy and may take time, but once they are successfully establish the results may be numerous. Partnerships may include a student mentor who has already completed the program, a mentor from outside of the program, or guest speakers from across campus and the community. Utilize these partnerships to build relationships with your students and others on campus.
In conclusion, there is not one single quality that makes for a strong leadership program. The best method for an establishment of leadership programs is to assess what is going on your campus and to gather information from the students. When you take the time to for this assessment, you develop the information you need to start a successful program.
Author: Valerie Johnson