Dynamic Leadership Institute builds leaders

John Corum

For the career-oriented college student, skills applicable to job hunting can be hard to pick up in a classroom setting. The WKU Dynamic Leadership Institute, however, offers an experience designed specifically for this purpose.

The institute is a four-phase, six-week program organized by Student Activities and led by Mindy Johnson, assistant director of Student Activities, and Andrew Rash, coordinator for Student Activities. The program began earlier this month.

Rash said the institute aspires to prepare participants for future job acquisition through discussion of leadership qualities and hands-on training in professionalism.

“We cover topics such as emotional intelligence, leadership styles, conflict style, consensus building and more,” he said.

Despite covering the broad nature of business, however, the Dynamic Leadership Institute is by no means a one-size-fits-all experience. Rather, the program evolves to better suit each individual participant.

“They first take a leadership assessment,” Rash said. “Next, we determine their personality style. Then we talk about how that specific personality functions in a group setting.” 

Lebanon junior Domonic Hawkins, a participant in the program, said this assessment period helps students to identify the ways in which they need to improve most as a leader.

“We meet in groups to talk about which specific skills we are missing and then we develop those particular skills,” he said. “For me, I’d like to be able to talk to large groups by the end of the program.”

After each student has determined their professional qualities, they apply them in a real-world setting, Rash said.

“There is a project where the group does something for the WKU community or the community at large,” he said. “This could be a number of things, like going to a school and reading or helping with a particular charity,” Rash said.

Allie Sharp, a graduate assistant of Student Activities,  participated as a student. She said students are often moved by their experiences to continue their activism even after the program concludes.

“For me, it was beneficial,” she said. “It gave me the confidence boost to go out and get more involved in leadership roles and use it as a stepping stone to more community service.” 

Rash said participants become personally invested in their projects because they design them for causes they are passionate about.

“The project is mostly up to the students to make from scratch and see it through, start to finish,” Rash said.

Rash explained his role as a facilitator is not only to guide participants, but to ensure they gain the firsthand experience necessary to lead independently in the real world.

“In the real world, change doesn’t just happen,” he said. “Progress depends on the people.”