Students learn motivation and empowerment of leadership in workshop


Sage Smith/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State students listen during Leaders Workshop Series before participating in conversation about leadership skills Wednesday.

Sage Smith

About 30 Iowa State students attended the first workshop of the Leaders Workshop Series Wednesday to develop their leadership skills.

Kyle Williams, assistant teaching professor for Liberal Arts and Sciences Administration, was the speaker for Wednesday’s workshop titled ‘Inspiring Action: Self Motivation: Team Empowerment.’ Williams has a doctorate in education.

Packets for guided reflections were given to the students as they entered the Gallery Room of the Memorial Room. Williams asked students to reflect at different points of the workshop. The reflections were a chance for students to think about the material presented to them.

After each of the reflections, students engaged in conversations with each other about their responses to the reflection prompts.

“I just personally like that it’s really interactive and you get to hear other people’s perspectives,” Melissa Hernandez, junior in software engineering, said.

Olivia Skwerski, senior in civil engineering, said she is working on receiving her leadership studies certificate and she said she wanted to get a different perspective with the workshop series.

“I was interested in developing myself as a leader because I’m kind of shy usually, so I wanted to be a leader personally but then also in my field,” Skwerski said. “With a girl going into engineering, it’s important to be a leader and be heard.”

Hernandez and Skwerski enjoyed the discussion aspect of the workshop. The students introduced themselves to each other. They were able to share their ideas with one another and to the whole group during the discussions.

Williams focused on the myths surrounding leadership. Wednesday’s workshop demonstrated there are various elements of leadership.

One of the myths Williams focused on is ‘the talent myth.’ Some people believe leadership is a talent when in reality, Williams said. Leadership is an observable set of skills and abilities that can be learned.

Another myth Williams mentioned was the ‘position myth,’ meaning those in higher positions must be the leaders in all situations. The leaders in group work and career settings can differ.

“I had a lot of similar experiences to him [Williams], and I really agree with how he said not just people in higher positions are leaders, everybody can be leaders,” Hernandez said. “[…] When you’re working in a group everybody matters, not just one person.”

The multiple reflection prompts included topics such as what strengths and weaknesses students have as leaders, leadership goals they have for the future and how to assure everyone is involved and working efficiently in group situations.

Williams is part of Iowa State’s leadership studies program faculty and teaches full time. He said he liked this opportunity as a speaker for the workshop to show the relevancy of leadership for students in their academic and personal lives.

Williams said he thinks leadership touches everything. He said students can use their leadership skills in several aspects of their lives whether it’s in the classroom, a student organization or at an internship or job.

“I appreciate [the audience] engagement,” Williams said. “I think ultimately we want to raise everyone’s self awareness about their ability to engage in the leadership process […] They were engaged and ready to take part which is always exciting. I am fueled by their energy.”