This past summer I had the opportunity to listen to a panel presentation on developing student leaders in PR. Two presentations stood out: One from Dave Remund that explored the ways in which educators can integrated and develop leadership competencies into a course. The second was from Bruce Berger who shared about the launch of a PR course dedicated to leadership at the University of Alabama. He shared findings from global studies that illustrated the key competencies for PR leadership, as well as student leadership, and presented the combination of these into one model for a course.
Needless to say, I was inspired.
As an educator, I often struggle with understanding how to develop leadership in all of my students. It can be a seemingly illusive concept, which only a few students naturally exhibit throughout a program. But as I came away from the presentation, my belief that leadership competencies are possible to develop in each and every student was reinforced.
While we are not able to add a dedicated course to PR leadership (though I would love to), I've integrated leadership competencies into my capstone course that examines campaigns. I relied on the presentations from Bruce and Dave, as well as previous literature (such as this incredible article) that identified the specific areas to incorporate into a course.
Rather than simply having students present on campaigns and share feedback, this course will now challenge them to consider alternative outcomes for the campaign, ethical-decision making required to execute the campaign, team or culture dynamics that may have influenced the campaign, and much more.
With these students months away from graduating, it is so crucial that they understand how to view PR with an understanding of key leadership traits. I'm sure I will learn a great deal as I re-structure this course. But I'm hopeful that my students will walk away not only knowing more about campaign design & analysis, but about what it takes to provide authentic leadership in an industry the has incredible potential to shape culture.