What can I do to impact the world? How can I become a better leader? Those two questions are what more than 60 Central Michigan University students were looking for clarity on by attending the LeaderShape Institute, a six-day leadership development experience May 10 to 15.
LeaderShape coordinator Jesi Parker said CMU's Leadership Institute has hosted the program for 16 years, and interest remains high each year because of the impact it has on students.
"LeaderShape is all about creating a just, caring and thriving world where everyone leads with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible," said Parker, who also is assistant director of CMU's Leadership Institute. "It's so much more than trust falls and the human knot. It's a transformative learning experience that applies to leaders in all professions."
Attendees participated in emotional intelligence training, self-assessments and reflections, vision-crafting workshops, ethical- and value-based discussions, team-building activities, and power and conflict management simulations at Albion College.
LeaderShape on-site coordinator Danielle Cywka said those who attend realize they are beyond capable to achieve goals greater than they've ever imagined.
"Being involved in LeaderShape honestly restores my faith in what my generation is capable of. It opens a world of possibilities for participants to see beyond themselves and their lives in Mount Pleasant," said Cywka, psychology and women's studies senior.
The LeaderShape Institute partners with organizations large and small, across the United States and throughout the world. According to research conducted by David Ross, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on the effects of LeaderShape, CMU students who participated in 2013-2014 reported slightly more pronounced transactional skill (motivating members to achieve goals) and noncalculative motivation to lead (avoiding a self-centered cost-benefit analysis of leading) within the program than other organizations.
"If I could describe LeaderShape in one word it would be transformational," said sociology sophomore Emma Bautch. "I went through a ton of ups and downs throughout the week and had so many breakthroughs that made me realize my passions and career goals can actually make a change in the world."
To maximize the passion students gained throughout the week, the Leadership Institute worked with Cara Solovey M.A. '15, to create an engagement plan. The plan includes online and campus discussions, spirit days, campus workshops, and a reunion with former LeaderShape participants.
"At LeaderShape you're surrounded by dream chasers who are passionate about changing the world and are supportive of what you believe in. It's hard to find that community in the real world," Solovey said. "We want to provide students with the opportunity to reconnect with like-minded people after the program and continue to fuel their passion for impacting the world."