Honors College feasts on leadership in Emerging Leaders program

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First- and second-year Honors College students took part in leadership and personal-development workshops as part of the annual Emerging Leaders program. Photo courtesy of the IUPUI Honors College

Many students in the IUPUI Honors College come to campus with a wealth of leadership experience already under their belt. But what they might not have had is the opportunity to analyze why they are the leaders they have become. In addition, they are continuing to refine how they present their leadership skills to potential employers and decision-makers. The Emerging Leaders program helps them do just that.

In a one-day workshop Feb. 17, the Honors College presented first- and second-year students with a keynote lecture from School of Public and Environmental Affairs assistant professor Cullen Merritt, a student panel, an etiquette luncheon and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator testing. Together, these sessions taught students about practicing leadership in everyday life and in a way that aligns with who they are as individuals.

10 Principles of Leadership

  1. You cannot "fit in" and "stand out" at the same time.
  2. Live in the vision, not in circumstances.
  3. Do not become who you despise.
  4. Experience firsthand the environment you hope to impact.
  5. Find people who are "fit" for the fight.
  6. "It takes restraint to listen rather than speak, to consider rather than dismiss, to follow new wisdom rather than familiar doctrine. Wise restraints make man free."
  7. Run your race.
  8. Leadership is not leadership unless it costs you something.
  9. You are enough.
  10. Of those to whom much is given, much is required.

Lucas Montgomery, a freshman majoring in neuroscience with the goal of becoming a surgeon, said that out of all he learned in the workshops, the etiquette luncheon was the most eye-opening. Led by Anthony Crawdon, an event coordinator and instructor of hospitality at Purdue, the luncheon covered dining rules for job interviews, at weddings and in other formal settings.

Montgomery had attended leadership conferences in the past, so much of Merritt's keynote address reinforced previous experiences. But the luncheon?

"I don't know how he (Crawdon) got involved in this, but he said a well-known food company executive would actually leave a dinner interview if you salted your food before you tasted it," said an astonished Montgomery. "I couldn't believe that. It was mind-blowing to me at this point." 

Equally important in providing students with soft skills to apply in new business situations is an understanding of what makes them tick. Attendees applied the results of their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is basically a personality test, to leadership practice.  

The Myers-Briggs revealed Montgomery as ENFP (extroverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving), meaning that he trends toward being a people person, is outgoing and, in the workplace, is likely to be a major asset during brainstorming sessions. ENFPs are idea people and are good at persuading others.

After receiving their results, students were divided into two groups -- introverts and extroverts -- and asked to pose three questions to those in the other group. The exercise illustrated the range of effective leadership styles and how to tap into others' strengths.

"In the extroversion group, we asked, 'How can we help you understand us? How can we help you communicate what you are to us?' It showed that you can be a leader no matter what you are," Montgomery said. "There's no perfect leader, but you can be the best leader you can be."

The message reinforced Merritt's ninth principle of leadership: Everyone, regardless of their individual strengths, is enough. Everyone has what it takes to lead. And it was a message Montgomery could really sink his teeth into.

The IUPUI Honors College offers leadership development throughout the year, through workshops like the Emerging Leaders program and opportunities such as the Honors College Student Council and peer mentoring.