Background Information on the Leadership Initiative
Our leadership programs provide a balance between Lehigh’s strong research and technology emphasis and the leadership skill sets needed to effectively manage and grow an enterprise. This leadership initiative is innovative and expands the traditional academic coursework structure. It is our belief that leadership is as much about what must be experienced as it is about what can be taught. Developing leaders requires providing students not only with a body of knowledge about leadership but also with experiences that help them to practice decision-making and integrative thinking. This approach helps develop confidence in leadership skills inside and outside of the classroom. It requires interaction with role models to understand different approaches to leadership. It depends on exposure to other disciplines, thought processes and cultures. Also, it employs constructive feedback and thoughtful reflection to understand the impact of one’s actions; for example, during course team projects.
Lehigh’s size, interdisciplinary emphasis, alumni involvement and results-oriented DNA form the bedrock for a unique leadership culture. The Leadership Development Initiative builds on this foundation by expanding and strengthening its proven approaches and programs to offer a campus wide opportunity to develop leadership skills.
Additional detail on Alumni Leadership Insights
The Alumni Leadership Insights effort builds on the willingness of Lehigh Alumni to transfer leadership experiences and knowledge to undergraduate and graduate students across the University. In earlier stages of development for the Leadership Development Initiative, alumni participation was informal and included guest lectures, the promotion of internships, and assistance with mentoring programs.
Based on the success of these informal efforts a more structured approach has been developed. In this “leadership insights” approach Alumni organize key beliefs, experiences, “rules of thumb”, and their own personal guidelines with respect to the successful practice of leadership in organizations where they are currently employed or have worked in the past. Technology tools are utilized, for video capture of interactive sessions often with teams of students as well as formal presentation content.
Feedback from students who utilize insights gained from alumni has been very positive. Our alumni often have had a broad range of experiences leading various sizes and types of organizations. Sharing of the essence of their personal leadership belief structure and operational techniques (often conveyed with stories, case studies, and concise organization of values) has proved to be extremely useful and appreciated as our students move forward in their careers.
An unexpected benefit of the process is the satisfaction and enjoyment of “giving back” almost always articulated by alumni who participate in this program. It is also a fortunate coincidence that advances in the technologies facilitating computer-based search procedures that involve dealing with more complex thought processes and concepts is also occurring in parallel to implementation of this program. We are just in the initial stages of utilizing the approaches which will allow our growing database of electronically accessible insights in video, oral, and written formats to be fully integrated into course assignments. Efficient computer based search capability of Alumni Leadership Insights facilitates efforts being made by students to develop their own approaches and styles of leadership.