Are leaders ordinary people made extraordinary through hard work and training, or are certain individuals destined to make a difference in the world? While this nature versus nurture debate is big enough for a class of its own, the new Leadership Practices and Assessment Seminar series seeks to develop the leadership skills of Mines students and faculty of all backgrounds, majors, and interests.
Sponsored by the Economics and Business Department, The Leadership Practices and Assessment Practices seminar is held Tuesdays at 4 PM in Hill Hall 202. The leadership training sessions are specifically geared towards graduate students seeking a degree in Engineering Technology Management, but remain open to any student or faculty member looking to learn about leadership styles and gain confidence in situations involving group communication.
“Leadership is my life and it is in fact my passion,” declares John Bedker, the main instructor and key speaker for the seminars. Bedker is originally from Annapolis and attended the United States Naval Academy. Throughout his career with the Navy, he found himself with different commercial air piloting responsibilities and many leadership roles along the way. After retiring from the Navy, he discovered a love for leadership consultation, and he is excited and honored to continue following that passion at Mines today.
Mr. Bedker is quick to assert that leadership is an art and not a science, and therefore the lectures are carefully constructed to mimic the real-world experiences that students are likely to encounter in the workforce. For instance, the class will feature guest speakers in government and small business arenas and challenge participants to analyze examples of successful and unsuccessful leadership practices. The seminars are built upon the idea that leadership in the real world matters, and that this ability is in fact measurable, learnable, and teachable all at once.
The first seminar was attended by a myriad of students and faculty, each expecting something a little bit different out of the extended learning experience. While many participants are Mines graduate students, the class also features non-traditional students seeking advancement to leadership roles in the workforce and Mines faculty hoping to teach and lead classes more effectively. With such a broad audience, one highlight of the seminars is their individualized nature.
“We grow and we evolve because we are dynamic human beings,” suggests Bedker. To quantify these developments, Bedker will be individualizing the curriculum by giving each participant an initial survey about their current leadership abilities and then assisting each with a Leadership Development Plan to map out possible areas of improvement and suggest specific resources. At the end of the leadership series, students will be asked to give a short speech reflecting upon their classroom journey and explaining their future endeavors.
“You’ll of course take your technical knowledge to the workplace,” Bedker explains. However, in an industry of competition, technological communication, and team projects, mastering essential skills like public speaking, management and delegation, and leadership ethics can make all the difference. Bedker puts it best with “The leadership piece really matters. Make a bigger and better contribution.”