“The education and development of students as leaders has long served as a central purpose for institutions of higher education as evidence in mission statements and the increased presence of both curricular and co-curricular leadership development programs” according to John P. Dugan and Susan R. Komives in their 2007 study, Developing leadership capacity in college students: Findings from a national study. Dugan and Komives offer the following Ten Recommendations to Enrich Campus Leadership Programs: 1. Discuss socio-cultural issues everyone, 2. Get students involved in at least one organization, 3. Get students to at least one leadership program, 4. Diffuse leadership program across the institution, 5. Focus on members, not just positional leaders, 6. Discourage too much breadth in involvement, 7. Develop mentoring relationships, 8. Design distinct programs for specific groups, 9. Align students’ self-perceptions of leadership competence and confidence, and 10. Build bridges with K-12 educators.
Leadership skills can be learned and developed; similarly to how an athlete develops sport-specific skills or how an educator develops classroom management skills. Learning to lead comes from opportunities to explore, practice, and reflect upon leadership! By seizing “leadership opportunities”, students develop a database of experiences central to their development, both on campus and professionally, into leaders.
EMPOWER has a track record for leveraging “High Reward, Low Risk” adventure programs to develop leaders. Since 2009, our team has facilitated adventure programs for thousands of people across hundreds of different colleges and universities, public and private schools, corporations, and municipalities. Our programs are designed to provide “Learn to Lead” opportunities to participants by providing the tools to (1) strengthen self and group leadership skills, (2) develop higher levels of self-confidence, and (3) think critically, persevere through challenge, and problem solve!