Creating and Empowering Ethical Leaders – The Villanovan

Creating and Empowering Ethical Leaders – The Villanovan

Courtesy of the Villanova Leadership Program

The Villanova Leadership Program aims to teach ethical leadership through modules and activities.

In a world where ethical leadership is essential, the Villanova Leadership Program (VLP) stands out, nurturing the next generation of moral leaders. With a strong emphasis on community engagement, character development and interpersonal skills, the VLP offers a transformative experience for students who are eager to make an impact on their communities. 

Led by Stephen Koch, the Associate Director for Leadership Programs within the Office of Student Involvement, the VLP embodies a commitment to continuous improvement and mentorship, instilling values such as integrity, empathy and kindness in its participants. 

“I believe that leaders should invest in and develop other leaders, because when leaders develop leaders, influence and success multiplies,” Koch said. “We challenge our participants to think inclusively, ethically and to always lift others up. We teach that leadership is about one life inspiring and motivating another to become the very best version of themselves.”

Another essential member of the VLP team is Veronica Jeffers, who serves as the current Graduate Assistant for Leadership Programs within the Office of Student Involvement. 

“I wanted to get involved with the VLP in order to engage with students on a personal level, help them learn more about themselves and others and strengthen their ability to be leaders,” Jeffers said. “During my involvement within the VLP, I have challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, and grow as a leader, all things I hope for students who join the VLP.”

The VLP is more than just a program. It is a journey of self-discovery and growth. Students are empowered to lead with purpose and integrity through workshops, lectures and interactive activities in addition to hearing from alumni and having the opportunity to network. By the end of the program, students are equipped with the skills and mindset to ethically navigate leadership challenges. 

“I enjoyed my experience in the VLP because it was a safe, low-intensity environment that allowed me to develop as a leader, a character and also make new friends,” sophomore Bryan Aweh-Kisob said after graduating from the VLP last semester. “The positive environment and awesome instructors we had always left me with a smile on my face after each session.”

Each VLP module is crafted to engage students in interactive learning experiences. From exploring different leadership characteristics to engaging in active discussion regarding leadership dilemmas, participants embark on a journey of self-reflection and skill development. Students are able to refine their communication, emotional intelligence and decision-making skills, strengthening their ability to form connections with others. 

“VLP has been influential to my growth as a communicator, listener and team player,” freshman Ava Goyal said. “Overall, strengthening these skills has allowed me to better understand and practice how to be an effective leader.”

Additionally, the VLP offers “community builder” activities, fun activities outside of the modules for students to network, make new friends and put their learned leadership skills to use. In the past, VLP members have gone ice-skating, attended a women’s basketball game and completed a session on the Villanova Challenge Course. 

To graduate from the VLP, students must attend a minimum of four out of six modules, and they will then be granted a certificate in ethical leadership. Those who attend all six modules will receive a special certificate, acknowledging their dedication to the program. However, the journey does not have to end there. Graduates have the opportunity to give back as VLP Peer Mentors or as part of the Executive Board, helping to guide future VLP participants on their leadership journeys.

“I found the modules and community builders to be really beneficial and insightful, which is what motivated me to continue with the program first as a peer mentor and then as a member of the E-board,” sophomore Caroline Donnelly said. “Understanding the qualities that make a strong leader and learning how to develop these traits is a relevant skill that applies to everyone, regardless of major or intended career path.

Amidst a growing need for ethical leadership, the VLP is a model for development. Led by dedicated professionals who are invested in students’ success, it helps participants to become caring, forward-thinking leaders. The VLP is not just any program. It is a chance for students to grow, lead with purpose, and make a real difference in the world around them. 

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