Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A simple thought for today

“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”

Anne Sexton

Monday, August 22, 2011

Making the Case: Part II: Stories from campus-based programs

Here at LeaderShape, we are often in conversations with individuals interested in bringing The LeaderShape Institute to their campus or organization. People are supportive. They are on board. But you need evidence and data to help make the case to your colleagues.

This is the second installment (of several) that showcases research conducted on LeaderShape by third party researchers.

This post focuses on three different campuses who host a session of The LeaderShape Institute from the lens of Program Coordinators.

The following are direct quotes from their experiences:


“Every year, we receive back statements such as, ‘LeaderShape changed my life. Not only did it open my eyes as to what was possible, it introduced me to other students I never would have met if I hadn’t attended.’ Our office coordinates a variety of short leadership programs and retreats, but comments that reflect the transformational nature of a student’s leadership development come from LeaderShape participants more than any other single initiative.

The value of the LeaderShape curriculum on our campus is two-fold. First, it provides a six-day holding environment for students to struggle with the question, ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’ and, due to the way we select students, helps connect them to peers they may not have met otherwise. This broadens their perspectives to better reflect the diversity of students here at Illinois. We have coordinated a campus LeaderShape session since 1993. I feel that it has not only benefitted our campus as a whole, it has transformed countless individual participants.

We regularly ask students what they want to major in or what they want to do when they graduate. However, seldom is the follow-up ‘Why did you choose that?’ asked. All LeaderShape participants – regardless of the site – are faced with this question. Because the program lasts for six long days, it is unavoidable; students can neither dodge the question, nor can they go through the motions of answering. Since the foundation of leading with integrity involves knowing and practicing one’s values, one of the central benefits of the LeaderShape experience is the way that the curriculum and facilitators help students to develop complex, critical thinking in this manner.” (p. 10)

“There can be no doubt about the transformational nature of The LeaderShape Institute experience here at Illinois. Students without a strong social network leave with new lifelong friends, students unhappy with their major or goals find meaning and purpose for their lives, and leaders from a variety of backgrounds learn the skills necessary to collaborate and expand their horizons.” (p. 11)

“Integrity. Personal Growth. Reflection. Social Change. Experience. These are a small sample of the tenants that cause The LeaderShape Institute to stand apart from other leadership programs and immersion experiences.” (p. 11)

“The transformation that occurs in and with the students who attend LeaderShape is remarkable, and it does not end after the six days are over. One participant from a 2006 session of The LeaderShape Institute noted that, ‘I hold myself to a higher standard because of LeaderShape.’” (p. 11)

“Mutual Respect and Cilivity

The work done in the safe space of Family Clusters provides an atmosphere of support, courage and openness, inspiring a trust and care for one another that is extraordinary. This atmosphere continues into the general Learning Community, where participants form their own community values to guide their time at the Institute and diligently uphold these throughout, illustrating a commitment to treat each other and the environment with mutual respect, tolerance, and civility.” (p. 11)

“Breaking Down Barriers

At LeaderShape, a Learning Community is created that allows for the barriers that oftentimes divide our campus, to crumble. Long last connections are formed that are collaborative and transformational.” (p. 11)

“Transformative Learning

The experiential learning methods employed at LeaderShape allow for hands-on work, but also incorporate ample time for reflection. Through both interactive and introspective assignments, students are encouraged to practice a healthy disregard for the impossible. Being invited to think and act that way leaves a lasting impression on students.” (p. 11-12)

“Community & Service

When students leave LeaderShape with a Vision and accompanying Breakthrough Blueprint, they have been provided a safe space to discover and define their passions in ways that are both idealistic and tangible, focusing on service to society both locally and globally.” (p. 12)

“Values & Integrity

At LeaderShape, students are asked to not only think about their core values, but to wear them for everyone to see. Practicing decision-making based on values empowers students to be individuals of character, not only in their co-curricular endeavors, but far beyond.” (p. 12)


Rosch, D. M., Edwards, S., & Pariano, N. (2011). Program spotlight: LeaderShape on campus: Stories from campus-based programs. Concepts & Connections, 17(2), 10-12.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The courage it takes to slow down.....

Do you ever feel like being busy is like wearing a badge of honor? The busier you are the better, right? This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a retreat hosted by The Center for Courage and Renewal. The focus of the retreat was to reconnect who you are with what you do. While it was a wonderful opportunity for me personally, I kept thinking about how the concepts of being discussed of courage, renewal, community, authenticity and integrity apply to the LeaderShape Community. My thoughts went all over the place because I know that all of those concepts really resonate with LeaderShape.

The one thing that kept coming into my mind was that it takes courage to slow down and truly listen to yourself. I believe our society places a badge of honor on how full our calendars can be that it is often hard to turn down a meeting or dinner with a friend without feeling guilty. At the core of what LeaderShape is about is connecting people to their passions. The LeaderShape community is so spread out across the globe that it can be easy for individuals to get lost in every day life. From meetings to classes to caring for loved ones we can all quickly forget our passions, dreams and deep desires of our heart.

As you start your week, I want to encourage you to find some time for your own personal renewal. Be courageous and do this for yourself. Maybe it is listening to music, allowing yourself to get lost in a book, sitting in nature or going for a run. Whatever will renew your soul, do it! While you do this I hope that you allow your mind to wander, your heart to dream and remember what is important to you. Give yourself the opportunity to truly be heard and renewed, it's worth it!

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can do is take a complete rest.” Ashleigh Brillant