“What is leadership to you?”
This fall, college students from across the Front Range gathered as part of El Pomar’s Student Leadership Experience to answer this question.
The two-day retreat brought me closer to the other students from my school in addition to introducing me to new scholars. The interactive format of the retreat allowed for friendships to form quickly and encouraged the best in all the leaders present. Along with all the fun we had, the retreat pushed us to grow rapidly. While some activities pushed for growth through application, others pushed for growth through reflection.
One of the most powerful experiences was the opportunity to hear from Paul-Miki Akpablie, a current Colorado College student who founded Kadi Energy to increase energy sustainability and reduce unemployment in developing countries. While most of us only dream about generating change for the better in our communities, Akpablie does this every day. Hearing about how he manages to balance school, running a business, and life was inspirational.
Other activities such as a value-sort activity and mapping our leadership stories helped to round out a solid foundation in leadership. Rather than just accepting leadership as an ambiguous term, we each came closer to an understanding of what it is for us. For me leadership is the ability to authentically know the people around you and to help them to reach their highest potential. While, as leaders, we must also balance the managerial work of getting projects done on a deadline, the real work is finding the right people for the task at hand.
Through the great mix of activities at the retreat, I became more grounded in leadership that emphasizes thoughtfulness as well as a fast pace of action. This type of leadership is ever more important in a world where technology pushes change at a breakneck speed.
Kaitlyn Elliot attended the fall SLE retreat in 2015. She is in the College of Liberal Arts and Science and the University Honors and Leadership program at the University of Colorado – Denver. Kaitlyn will graduate in 2018.