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Fuqua ‘steps up’ to foster leadership

Insults and accusations were hurled back and forth by students learning the tenets of leadership through several group activities at the Step Up Retreat Sunday afternoon.

The intense debates were brought on by the discussion of a final activity of the four-hour workshop, which centered around the “Six Domains of Leadership” and was held at the Fuqua School of Business.

The first-ever Step Up leadership program resulted from a collaboration between Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta and the Fuqua School of Business/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics.

David Pittman, senior associate director of the Office of Student Activities and Facilities, who was involved with the event, called Sunday’s retreat the “inaugural kick-off” to the Step Up program, in which there will be more opportunities for leadership training.  

COLE created a leadership model that was predominantly used for executives and businesses, Pittman said, adding that the creators wanted to “take this model and facilitate learning leadership.”

“[The committee] wanted to provide a common language through which students could connect and learn about leadership,” he said.

The day began with a PowerPoint presentation detailing the Leadership Pyramid, in which the six aspects of being a leader were outlined. Personal, relational, contextual, inspirational, supportive and responsible are the areas the Step Up program identified as key to a leader developing strong skills and achieving “credibility, trust, and community,” according to the presentation.

 Pittman said the most outstanding aspect of the retreat was the “collaborative partnership” between all of the offices within Student Affairs. He said the program aims to emphasize to students that “leadership is for everybody,” a sentiment echoed by the many students present at the retreat.

Ultimately, students came for a wide variety of reasons. Christine Wu, a freshman, said she was eager “to see how leadership structure is at Duke and to see potential resources offered to an aspiring leader.”

Other students such as freshman Yang Zeng wanted to meet others who shared his passion for leadership and collaboration.

After the presentation, the group split to engage in the leadership activities that drew on students’ teamwork and communication skills. After the activities, participants discussed how their work demonstrated characteristics that a successful leader should have.

In the end, most students said they came away with a positive impression of the program.

“[It was] a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” Zeng said.

Pittman said any student who was not present at the retreat is still encouraged to attend any of the other Step Up programs to be held throughout the year. The COLE model will continue to be the base for other programs in the following months as other divisions of Student Affairs—from the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Life to the International House Orientation Peers Program—hosts their own program based on the six domains, he said.

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