I am from Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. I am currently studying Chemical Engineering at Miami University with a concentration in paper engineering and mechanical engineering. I chose engineering initially due to my passion for math and science—particularly chemistry; however, the more I learn about the various opportunities available for engineers the more excited I am to continue developing my technical and leadership skills.
Have you ever wondered how one becomes a great leader? It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice. Learn this and more from Chris Hill, a member of Cohort 4 of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute.
What is transformational leadership? Well there are thousands of books, videos, and articles all claiming that they have the “secret” to leadership success. The truth is transformational leadership takes time and practice. This is not to take anything away from some of the experts in the field like: Richard Lieder, Daniel Goleman, Simon Sinek, among others. But the truth is that to truly change the way you lead, it takes more than just reading a book or watching a video. It takes practice. According to Ayman, Adams, Hartman, and Fisher there are over 1,000 recognized leadership programs at the undergraduate level. However very few of these programs offer extended minors or certificates. And often they don’t have a proven model of development. One professor at Miami University set out to change this. Professor Louise Morman took on this challenge, and came up with the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute specifically for students in the School of Engineering and Computing at Miami University. This is a 3 year certificate program that starts for second-year students. Twenty to twenty-five students are selected after a rigorous application and interview process and the program is designed to fill in some of the gaps that many recent undergraduate students have. So what I was talking about when I referenced the gaps in the standard undergraduate programs, well Susan Adams wrote an article for Forbes outlining the 10 top skills employers look for in recent graduates. Many of these areas are adequately addressed well in standard undergraduate programs, but often there are gaps left. So the first item on Adams’ list is the ability to work in a team structure. This is an area that is often included in undergraduate programs, but not fully addressed. Group projects can do a lot to help address this, but employers really look for graduates that can work on multidisciplinary teams. In the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute students from all four engineering programs are represented. Many projects throughout the three years also require students to work with students and faculty from outside the school of engineering and computing. Um this is a really valuable skill that a lot of students do not have. Another Item on Adams’ list is the ability to make decisions and solve problems. This is an area that is covered well in a lot of undergraduate programs. Engineering specifically covers this fairly well. But the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute adds in a human element to this. It’s important when you’re making big decisions to not just look at the technical aspects but to also look at how this is going to affect the workforce and the people um and that’s something that the leadership institute does a great job of. Another item on this list is the ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization. So this can mean a lot of things but more specifically in the leadership institute there’s a huge emphasis placed on social media, LinkedIn, networking, communicating with people and that’s really key to employers and students looking for jobs and opportunities to start their career. Another big item on Adam’s list is the ability to plan, organize and prioritize work. Students are constantly forced to do this as they balance school, work, and social lives in their standard programs. But in the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute students get the chance to do this for a single large project. The AGILE work-flow method is something that is stressed in this um program, and it really helps students make timelines, prioritize tasks, delegate well, and make sure that everything is uh staying on track. There are also many items on Adams’ list that are uh more technical focused and are often very well addressed in programs. These include the ability to obtain and process information, the ability to analyze quantitative data, technical knowledge related to the field, proficiency with computer software programs, you know Excel, Matlab, Etc., and the ability to create and/or edit written reports. Um all of these skills are definitely addressed well in the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute but they are also addressed in a lot of undergraduate programs so that’s really not what sets it apart. One of the other big items is the ability to sell and influence others. This is something that is often never addressed in undergraduate programs but is a very important skill to have for a rising graduate. Um this is the last skill on Adams’ list, but it’s also one of the hardest skills to uh do well. A lot of what we do in the leadership program involves uh working with people that have different backgrounds and different um personalities than you. And being able to um you know, communicate well with them and make sure that you kind of have that mutual respect is a big part of um selling and influencing others. So as I said, a lot of these traits do come naturally from a standard undergraduate program, especially an engineering degree. But transformational leadership programs like the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute at Miami University can be a huge um part of filling in some of the gaps that programs leave. So how does the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute accomplish this? Well first, as I mentioned this is a three-year program requiring students to take a class for six semesters in a row. There is a different focus each year which allows students to be exposed to a variety of skills and leadership areas. So in the first year of the program the focus is on personal leadership. So this is uh some of the personality tests that you may be familiar with like Meyers Briggs and understanding your own work preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Um so this is something that a lot of students maybe do once and then kind of forget about, but in the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute you’re forced to do this um learn about it and then practice it and use it every day for six years—uh for six semesters. It’s really important to recognize other people’s work tendencies when working on teams. Um often people that have different personalities can clash or not get along when you’re working on a team and throughout the program they try to teach you why certain people act certain ways and if you understand that it sometimes makes it easier to respect them and to still uh work effectively with them on a team. So understanding that other people have you know their unique strengths and weaknesses and kind of being able to work with them instead of against them is a really big part of this program. Um we also spend a lot of time recognizing our own biases. This is a huge aspect of the program and this is something that a lot of people are kind of uncomfortable with. Um people don’t like to admit that they have biases and that they uh you know maybe act differently towards certain people. But being able to recognize this and understanding it is the first step to addressing the problem. So one of the biggest aspects of this first year is the leadership development plan. This is an extended personal project that really forces students to think about their own leadership plan, their goals and kind of uh what they need to do to accomplish their life goals. Being exposed to these big picture ideas as an undergraduate student is uh very uncommon and a lot of students don’t think about uh these ideas but it’s really, it can be the difference between um you know long term success and just kind of uh wandering through the first few years of your career not knowing what you’re trying to do. The second year of this program focuses on people leadership. Um this is more focused on working effectively on teams, and leading uh larger projects. One of the biggest learnings from this year is actually applying everything you learned in the first year to real life situations. So you get the opportunity to work on a variety of teams with uh people with different personalities and backgrounds. It’s, you know as I mentioned earlier it’s easy to these uh personality tests or bias tests and forget how to do it and forget about it. But one of the unique things about this three year program is that it forces you to um take the learnings and actually apply them. Um you’re constantly working with new people, discussing ways to improve ourselves. Um this can be a major leg up for young graduates entering the workforce. Another big focus in this class is the Agile workflow process. Um we’re lucky enough to actually have representatives from SunCorp fly all the way from Australia to Miami to teach a workshop on the Agile method. Um unfortunately exposure to you know project management tools like this are often uncommon at the undergraduate level. Um and it can come multiple years after entering the workforce. Luckily, the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute exposes students to these concepts and that’s a way that programs like this can really help prepare graduates for success. The biggest aspect of the second year involves developing a company that shares leadership, creativity, and innovation with Miami University and really the world. Um my cohort specifically chose to do a podcast website where we uh recorded, edited, and produced podcasts that we were able to put on the website. Um to do this we had to go through the design thinking process to you know ideate to develop ideas, you know, decide which ones we wanted to go with, actually put them all to practice. You know we did uh small scale tests, we went through trial runs and eventually we would come up with a product that we were really happy with. We were actually uh, by the end of the year, able to record over 10 podcasts and reach an audience of over 7,000 unique viewers. Um and large scale projects like this are what I think really sets the leadership institute apart from a lot of other programs. Um this was a multi-year project that was continued and passed down to the next cohort and it’s a really great experience to kind of see a project get from start to finish um and then continue even after you’re gone. In the final year of this program the focus is more on strategic leadership. Um this is still a continuation of the personal and the team leadership that we talked about before, but there is an added emphasis on cultural awareness and uh that really prepares students to make an impact on the organizations in a larger way than they often would be able to otherwise. Um as I said, there’s a larger emphasis on shaping company cultures, respecting diverse opinions, and truly having an influence on companies and organizations that you’re involved in. So how has the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute preformed so far? Well so far three cohorts have graduated from the program and there’s still a 100% Graduation rate and a 100% Job Placement and there are also a variety of examples of successful students that have already made a lasting impact on their companies. So I think that most people would agree that transformational leadership is a vital aspect to the success of all companies and organizations, but it is often not emphasized enough in the undergraduate level especially in technical disciplines. I think we need to fundamentally change the way we that we are teaching these concepts at the university level. The Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute helps prepare students to take on leadership early in their careers, and exposing students to these ideas and concepts at the undergraduate level can give them a huge leg up as they enter the workforce.
Categories | Inside the Institute
Filetype: MP3 - Size: 5.8MB - Duration: 10:23 m (78 kbps 44100 Hz)