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Olivet College is dedicated to providing students not just an education, but the means to become global citizens who foster change in today’s society. In order to do so, leadership training is a core lesson for Comets, providing students with opportunities to identify their leadership potential and to develop their skills. In addition to the many leadership roles available in clubs and organizations, the President’s Leadership Institute (PLI) is in its sixth consecutive year providing an exclusive leadership development program alongside OC and principal professional leaders.

PLI is organized as a yearlong training program, and the class of 20 students meets twice a month on average. President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., facilitates the group alongside Provost and Dean Maria Davis, Ph.D., Trustee Dave Labrecque ’84, and Today’s Leader Partners Charles C. Burnham and Mike Bivens. The leadership team collaborates to form lessons around the building blocks for effective leadership with personal accounts from each’s own career.

“The type of learning opportunity students receive in PLI is equivalent to what high level professional managers and executives receive at their place of business,” said Dr. Davis. “To have this kind of high impact experience even before entering the workforce gives our students a tremendous leg-up in their careers and professions. Personally, I enjoy getting to know the PLI students throughout our year of work together. It is such a joy to celebrate the completion of the program and to see the PLI fellows and their families glowing with pride at the annual celebration dinner in the spring. I have also grown in my own leadership skills through my participation with PLI – there is always more to learn as a leader!”

To begin the program, students complete the behavior assessment known as the DiSC Assessment, categorizing students into four groups named after each letter representing their most prominent behavioral trait: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. The DiSC assessment is often used for professional team training. The results allow students to learn more about their own personalities and their best role within a team, while also better understanding the way other personalities contribute to teams.

For sophomore Deivan Prince, the DiSC assessment has been key to his growth in PLI. With a career goal to become a pediatrician, Deivan knows leading a team of nurses and other medical professionals will be essential in his future. “I have learned a lot about myself from the DiSC assessment and being in groups with people who fall under the same category,” Deivan explained. “Training with leaders has helped me and my classmates bring out our potential to be the best we can. The PLI instructors see our potential and make me want to strive to see myself the way they see me.”

Recognizing the difference between a manager and a leader is another pinnacle aspect in PLI’s curriculum. While management is simply the act of coordinating resources, leadership is much more complex. A leader sets direction and coaches their team to find ways for everyone to achieve success individually and collectively. Positive communication and addressing change are also lessons covered in PLI, paired with personalized leadership coaching sessions.

Currently, the 2017-18 PLI class is focusing on Putting Leadership In Action (PLIA) Team Projects, where students divide into smaller groups to put their leadership knowledge, skills and abilities into practice. Each group, three to five members each, brainstorms projects that could improve the Olivet College community. Previously, students fundraised and coordinated for new drinking fountains to be installed on campus, designed to allow water bottles to be easily reused. This year, students are considering projects that improve campus security, expand campus parking, strategies to enhance student life and more.

Team collaboration opportunities have been senior Victoria Monterusso’s favorite part of PLI thus far. She is preparing for graduation with an actuarial science major and computer science minor, and is excited for the numerous career possibilities ahead of her. Wherever she ends up, Victoria’s goal is to work her way into a leadership role. “I have enjoyed getting to know the fellow PLI members,” Victoria explained. “We all have different leadership styles and I think it will be interesting to see how we can all work together and learn from each other’s different styles.”

When PLI resumes in January, the PLIA teams will waste no time jumping into their projects. They’ll also further examine high performing teams and how leaders can help develop other leaders. In March 2018, students will present their final PLIA Team Project – the last item on the checklist before the official graduation on March 21.

Learn more about Olivet College and leadership development opportunities by visiting campus or applying. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu for questions.

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