Developing Leadership Skills

Developing Leadership Skills

Oct 6
Lisa Burgoon, Director, Minor in Leadership Studies

Can any student be a leader or is leadership only available to a select few with special charisma and talents?  I am solidly in the camp that says all students have the potential to develop leadership skills and become leaders. I have seen students who initially lacked confidence in their ability to interact with others become strong and effective communicators, emerge as leaders in their organizations, and secure fantastic jobs upon graduation.  

I talked recently with Tim Callahan, junior in Agricultural Education concentrating in Agricultural Leadership Education, about the skills he is developing through course work and internships at Illinois. I have known Tim since his freshman year when he started out undeclared and quickly found his passion for leadership education and transferred to Agricultural Education after one semester. Tim was an undergraduate intern with me last spring and summer semesters helping me evaluate AGED 260 Introduction to Leadership studies and develop new content for an online component of the course. Here is a brief summary of our conversation.

When asked about specific leadership skills he has developed in his first two years at UI, Tim replied “perhaps one of the most important skills I’ve learned while at U of I is adaptability. Being able to satisfy job/internship requirements is important. However, it’s the unexpected or new opportunities that truly allow you to make an impact.” I experienced firsthand Tim’s use of adaptability when he created a learning module that integrated diversity education into the global cultural leadership topic in AGED 260. Tim had to assess his own knowledge and experiences with multiple dimensions of diversity before he could create a meaningful online learning experience for students in the course. This was something he had not spent a lot of time thinking about before I asked him to create this module. Tim reported feeling more confident in his ability to interact with others and communicate his ideas effectively now that he has completed two years at UI which include his AGED 260 internship and multiple part-time jobs on campus and in the community.

Tim came into the large lecture classroom in AGED 260 this fall to share the many leadership educational experiences available to students through the Illinois Leadership Center and the Minor in Leadership Studies. He was confident, articulate and engaging in front of 180 students as he shared the benefits of taking leadership courses and co-curricular leadership programs offered on our campus. “I feel more confident when it comes to winning others over and communicating my ideas. For that, I can thank my leadership classes, and the countless networking opportunities U of I has provided.”

Tim Callahan, junior in Agricultural Education concentrating in Agricultural Leadership Education