Monday, November 23, 2009

Learning from LeaderShape

Mike Severy, currently serves as the Program Coordinator, for The LeaderShape Institute at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke. We came across his post about us, and with his permission along with, we are republishing it here.

We were honored and sincerely appreciative for Mike's comments. You can find Mike's original post online here. Thanks Mike, for being a great partner with us!


I spent this past weekend in Chicago completing Program Coordinator Training for LeaderShape. Here are three transferable learning points I gained from my time with the LeaderShape Staff and some opportunities for you to make LeaderShape a meaningful experience for you:

Communicate your Brand Consistently and Constantly


LeaderShape’s focus is on teaching young adults to lead with integrity. We started the first evening with a welcome ceremony, and within the first thirty seconds, the president started talking to the group about leading with integrity and the values and beliefs LeaderShape espouses. Every time he spoke throughout the weekend, the same held true – within thirty seconds, he was talking about leading with integrity.

All of the LeaderShape staff members revisited and practiced their values. While each individual person had a sense of self that was uniquely his or her own, the common denominator between all of them was evident. Their transparent, intentional and unapologetic focus on their brand, values and mission was refreshing.

What would our interactions look like if we were positive, transparent and intentional about sharing our beliefs and brand?

Ask Others to Own and Share your Brand

Word of mouth is often cited as the strongest method of information dissemination, but how do you actually use this method effectively? A few years ago, LeaderShape developed their ‘I am LeaderShape’ phrase and gave their brand away to everyone who participated in the program.

The effect had two major consequences. First, it solidified the learning and expectations for participants, essentially requiring them to reflect on: If ‘I am LeaderShape’, and LeaderShape members believe in leading with integrity, then I better follow through. Secondly, by giving away ownership of their brand they extended LeaderShape beyond a pass-through experience for participants into something each individual incorporated into their own being. By doing so, LeaderShape developed a tribe of followers who became disciples of the LeaderShape experience.

What are you doing that is so exciting others want to widely share positive stories about and for you?

Evolve your Brand

While having a strong sense of the LeaderShape brand, the staff actively sought and were open to feedback about their programs and ideas. Their goal was to accurately align perception with reality and further solidify the ownership of their brand by asking you to help define it.

How often have you asked for feedback about your brand?

More importantly, how often have you incorporated constructive feedback to refine and evolve your brand in a manner that holds true to your core beliefs while staying fresh and relevant?

Looking for a Meaningful Experience?


College Students:

LeaderShape, designed for college students, is a an interactive, energizing, and unique experience that includes six days of non-stop self-discovery and learning from practical experiences to build your leadership concepts and abilities.

As an undergraduate, you can participate in two ways. If your campus sponsors one of the campus-based sessions you can register to participate with the coordinating office on your campus. Campus-based sessions occur at a variety of times throughout the academic year. If your campus isn’t listed (and even if it is) you can apply to attend one of the National Sessions. Most of the National Sessions take place at Allerton Conference Center in Monticello, Illinois 20 minutes from the University of Illinois. New for 2010, LeaderShape also plans to offer sessions in Atlanta and Boston to help alleviate travel costs for participants who live further away. A west coast session is also under consideration.

If you choose to apply for a national session, check for sponsors on campus to help offset your cost. The usual suspects include many student affairs offices especially student life, student government, leadership, service, programming and residence life offices. Be sure to check with your academic department (or college on larger campuses) to see what travel funds might be available to support your participation. If all else fails, do a quick search for student travel funding or leadership and see what comes up on your university site.

Graduate Students:

The Cluster Facilitator position is ideal for graduate students. Utilizing your experience, you will be asked to facilitate a group of 8-12 students through the LeaderShape experience. The days are long but incredibly valuable for your personal and professional development. Applications for both campus based and National Sessions can be found on the LeaderShape website. Applications are due by 5 pm Friday, December 11.

High School Students:

LeaderShape is exploring programs that would target high school students, and you can follow their progress and any potential announcements at their website. For now though, do your research on LeaderShape and have the program be an aspirational experience for you until you reach college.

Are you LeaderShape? What do you think? Make it a good day.


Mike Severy is the Director of Student Life at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Managing an office responsible for student organizations and major campus programs, his role at UNCP is to help students create and find the meaningful experiences in their lives. He views his work through the lens of student leadership development believing that students are developed over time through a series of meaningful experiences.