Maddie Murphy (BBA ’17) registered for the LeaderShape Institute on the recommendation of a friend who participated last year, but she didn’t know exactly what to expect.
“I was surprised to learn so much about myself, my personal leadership skills, and the way I work in groups,” says Murphy. “It was eye opening and a great opportunity to meet people who are enthusiastic about making a difference.”
Murphy was one of 48 Wisconsin pre-business and business undergraduates who participated in the program, a six-day intensive, hands-on leadership workshop sponsored by the Accenture Leadership Center at the Wisconsin School of Business.
In its ninth year at the School, the LeaderShape Institute provides participants with opportunities to develop their emotional intelligence, identify their personal and professional values, build inclusiveness, and manage change.
“We want them to get a better idea of who they are as leaders because we believe that in order to be a leader you have to know yourself,” says Dani Barker, assistant director of student life for the Wisconsin BBA Program at the School. “They may not always pursue the same vision, but we teach them how to develop a vision, how to put it into action, how to get others to buy in, and how to make it a reality.”
Students worked within “family clusters,” small groups led by university staff and business professionals, developing strong bonds with fellow participants that often extend well beyond the program. They also came together as an entire group to benefit from the experiences of all participants.
“It was interesting to learn about the different types of leaders, the different roles they play, and how these roles intertwine, says Murphy. “The key takeaway for me was to be inclusive and realize that different people have different strengths that can contribute to the success of a group.”
Infused throughout the various small- and large-group activities was the theme of servant leadership—leading in ways that give back to others—as well as a service activity. Participants worked with the organization Feed My Starving Children to package more than 30,000 meals for distribution to partner sites to feed malnourished children around the world.
“We’re trying to get students to think critically and creatively about eliminating hunger or about whatever issues they’re passionate about and how to make positive change in the world,” Barker says.
Ousmane Kabre (MAcc ’16), who participated in the LeaderShape Institute last year, has taken the vision he developed during the program and partnered with several other LeaderShape participants to create a non-profit organization to help educate children, with a particular focus on his home country of Burkina Faso.
“The program asked us to think of the future,” Kabre says. “What kind of legacy do we want to leave? I thought about it and this is where the idea for my organization Leading Change came from. I was thinking about this before participating in LeaderShape, but thinking is different than taking action.”
More than anything, the LeaderShape Institute teaches students a process. “They may not always pursue the same vision, but we teach them how to develop a vision, how to put it into action, how to get others to buy in, and how to make it a reality,” Barker says.