Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Leadership Development Programs in Higher Education

If you are looking for a job after graduation, you may (under more normal economic conditions) wish to consider Leadership Development Coordinator positions if you are planning to work in higher education. Much the way many industries have recently fallen in love with leadership development, so have colleges and universities throughout the country. Massive amounts of money are being poured into leadership development initiatives but the unfortunate aspect is that these programs are often flawed and misleading in their name. Schools around the country are hosting programs for current presidents and other top leaders of campus organizations with many of the objectives being to teach the students campus policies, help these various leaders meet other leaders on campus so as to facilitate cooperation in the future, and allow for goal-setting for the upcoming year or semester. While such a program is certainly valuable to the campus community, the only thing relevant to leadership development is goal-setting and eve n that is a stretch. Then to compound the issue, the feedback on these sessions usually comes in the form of a survey distributed at the end of the event or made available online to measure how satisfied the attendee was with the program they just experienced.
The interesting part about the leadership development programs is that they fail to actually educate the students on leadership, particularly the core elements described by Ordway Tead. There are certain core elements pointed out by Tead as absolutely necessary for any leadership development program, and they include: “knowledge of the general characteristics of human nature;” “self-knowledge of one’s own combination of qualities;” “a working grasp of the right attitude to possess in dealing with people; an ability to apply all of this knowledge to the mobilizing of energy and enthusiasm for the special objectives of the organization; and deliberate efforts at broadening of the total personality (Tead, 1935).” These, the bare bones of any program, are entirely missing from these “educational” programs.
This highlights two flaws that currently exist within higher education. Students today are being catered to in ways I never thought imaginable. For example, at High Point University students have live music in the cafeteria, speakers in the trees playing music, hot tubs, complimentary valet parking, a campus concierge, free ice cream trucks and snack bars, and perhaps the most outrageous of all, morning wake-up calls (Gioia-Herman, 2008). This desire to please students has rapidly spiraled out of control, and making sure students have fun is even prioritized over educational value for leadership development programs. The second flaw primarily compounds the original issue, and is shown in reviewing Craig Russon and Claire Reinelt’s article, The Results of an Evaluation Scan of 55 Leadership Development Programs. They point out that very few programs are actually based on any leadership theory, are more concerned with mass inexpensive data from surveys immediately after programs, rather than spending some more resources on a multi-level evaluation based on the actual learning goals of the program (Russon, 2004). However, in attending the Association of Fraternal Advisors Annual Meeting this week, there was an overwhelming emphasis in the educational sessions on establishing learning goals and conducting proper assessment of programs. Hopefully this can be a sign that in the future we can count on more relevant and truly necessary training of leaders. While true leadership can not actually be taught in a classroom setting, a proper training program can lay the foundation and help to equip leaders with some of the necessary knowledge and tools to be successful.

Below is the article regarding High Point University:

Herman Trend Alert: Consumer-Driven Higher Education September 24, 2008
The Law of Supply and Demand is alive and well in higher education. Responding to market needs of increased competition, a college in North Carolina has begun to offer leading edge services to its students. Under the brilliant leadership of Dr. Nido Qubein, a serial entrepreneur and renowned professional speaker, High Point University (HPU) provides students with levels of service and perks never before seen in higher education.
Walking through campus is an experience in itself. The main greenway, the Kester International Promenade, features loudspeakers in the trees, playing classical music. HPU recently added six fountains to the campus and six more are planned. Other assorted extras include live music in the cafeteria, a sand volleyball court, and a 16-person hot tub.
HPU students are never hungry. During the warm months of the year, there is an ice cream truck touring campus, offering literally hundreds of varieties of complimentary ice cream and ices. Plus the campus has two snack kiosks providing complimentary refreshments, including pretzels, juice, bottled water, fruit, and hot chocolate throughout the day.
Students also enjoy complimentary daily valet parking and the services of a campus concierge who arranges for dry cleaning, restaurant reservations, tickets for on-campus events, and even wake-up calls. Their new multiplex will feature a movie theatre exclusively for student use. Presuming the students' have money on their cards, their HPU "Passports" (student ID cards) may also act as debit cards at local restaurants
"Our extra services are more than what they appear to be. We are modeling values like generosity, that we want our students to adopt", said Roger Clodfelter, HPU's Director of WOW! "That's why we also recognize students on their birthdays with a card, a piece of cake, balloons, and a small gift. In addition, we send a get-well card and gift when they are sick", he added. It is a "holistic approach to education to prepare students for the real world". Clodfelter is responsible for these value-added services at HPU. (See a later Herman Trend Alert for more about HPU's holistic approach.)
Enrollment has grown significantly with the addition of these welcome perks. You can expect more colleges and universities to follow suit, looking for innovative ways to add value to attending their schools.

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