LEWISBURG, Pa. – Student-athletes participating in the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy enjoyed another productive session this past Sunday. With the help of D’Andre Phillips from the “Do What Counts” leadership consulting group, along with staff facilitators including head water polo coach John McBride, head field hockey coach Jeremy Cook, head volleyball coach Anna Allison and head women’s soccer coach Kelly Kuss, the Bison student-athletes worked through self- and peer-assessments using the DiSC Profile system, a valuable tool that assists them in better understanding their own leadership styles.

On Sunday the members of the Leadership Academy split up by class, as they are currently in different stages of their assessments. Sophomores are using the DiSC Workplace tool in order to gain better comprehension and appreciation for the different personality and leadership styles of their peers.  

“This was an opportunity to reflect on my own communication style, and how to ‘flex’ it with others,” said sophomore Jacquie Klotz of the Bison women’s basketball team. “Effective communication is a key  part of any kind of team. Being a part of the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy gives student-athletes at Bucknell a platform to talk about team interaction and how to handle different situations. We are learning how to have a positive and effective impact on the people around us. Furthermore, we get to work on skills that will translate great to the business world after college. It is a fun atmosphere, and I've gotten to meet some awesome people I would not have met otherwise.” 

The junior class is utilizing the DiSC Work of Leaders program, designed to help individuals discover one’s own leadership style and learn a simple three-step process to help approach the fundamental work of leaders: Vision, Alignment, and Execution. The seniors in the Leadership Academy have already characterized their own leadership methods, and now they are receiving feedback from their coaches, professors and teammates in order to better shape their leadership skills.

“So far the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy has done a lot more than just educate us as student-athletes about what a good leader should and should not do,” said senior wrestler Brenan McAllister. “The different perspectives provided by the representatives from all of the teams here at Bucknell have taught me that there isn't just one good way to lead, but rather a good leader is able to adapt well to his or her environment to be able to influence others in a positive way. Specifically, the leadership interviews we were just assigned allowed me to receive instant feedback about my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader along with suggestions on how to improve my skills. This was very beneficial because I was able to see how some of my own weaknesses were impacting others and how small changes could go a long way in helping me become a better leader.”

This is year No. 5 of the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy, which launched in August 2011 with the goal of delivering programming and instruction that bridge theory, development and real experiences in an interactive learning environment. The skills learned through the Leadership Academy help team leaders enhance their impact on their teammates’ and their program’s performance immediately and for years to come.

The 2015 fall semester kicked off back in August with a day-long conference conducted by staff members from the leadership development consultants at “The Student-Leader Seminar”.

The next Leadership Academy session will take place on Nov. 17, and it will also be opened up to a limited amount of additional student-athletes who are interested in being trained and/or engaging in the topic of cultural competency and inclusion.

Campus climate is a very important topic at Bucknell, specifically as it relates to diversity and relationships with community members from underrepresented populations. The Bucknell Department of Athletics and Recreation seeks to continue the conversation and play a role in improving campus dynamics among all community members. In this regard, facilitators from “The Student Leader Seminar” will return to campus on Nov. 17 to conduct peer facilitator training. The program description is as follows:  

“Leadership Skills for Student-Athletes: Cross-Cultural Competence”

As part of our continuing series of conversations about real-world leadership skills that can be applied here at Bucknell and beyond, "Leadership Skills for Student-Athletes: Cross-Cultural Competence" will explore the art of having difficult but productive conversations about stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.  When do we initiate these conversations and how can we control them to ensure the best possible outcome for all concerned?  Cross-cultural competence is defined for our purposes as knowledge, skills, and ability to work effectively with people unlike ourselves. Leaders with a high degree of cross-cultural competence can bridge differences and make organizations better regardless of the setting. Arming yourself with such skills takes time and practice. Through a series of everyday scenarios we will practice conversations that address common biases in our thinking and produce positive results.