Learning to Lead

On Nov. 3, the Class of 2020 participated in “A Day of Leadership,” the first freshman workshop experience in St. John’s Entrepreneurial Center curriculum.
Launched in 2015, the Entrepreneurial Center for Leadership and Innovation (ECIL) is a program that supports St. John’s mission to prepare young women and men for lives of leadership, achievement and service. With the goal of improving the global human condition, graduates from this center will make a difference in this world by combining their innovative spirit with the values of compassion, personal responsibility and service to others.
This four-year program provides students with both hands-on and virtual learning experiences. They learn from successful innovators in diverse fields and use the knowledge and experience gained through their coursework to create solutions to real-world challenges. The curriculum is designed so that all students have the opportunity to participate. As students matriculate, they have the option to delve deeper into the specific topics or to choose additional experiences. 
The freshman experience begins with a concentration on leadership in which the students examine values and methods of communication. St. John’s understands that self-leadership precedes the successful leadership of others; the first step in leading others is to examine one’s values and how to successfully communicate those values to others.
In addition to Entrepreneurial Center Director Joe Casamento, this year’s workshop also featured two nationally recognized experts in leadership education. Dr. Jeffrey Mangram is an assistant professor at Syracuse University, an educator at Manlius Pebble Hill School and a successful motivational and inspirational speaker. Steve Shenbaum is the founder and president of game on Nation, a communication, leadership, teambuilding and media training firm.   
These dynamic facilitators worked with the freshmen on three leadership principles: knowing your values, methods of communication and the power of positivity. Mangram assisted students in exploring and identifying their core values. “Leaders think deeply about their values. You need to understand your values and let them guide you,” he said. Shenbaum led the groups through humorous improv exercises that emphasized care and empathy when interacting with others. He said, “When you care about something, you all of a sudden start to learn and become more intentional. You want to look at care as the new cool.”
With Casamento, students focused on defining and evaluating positive and negative attitudes and learning why and how to embrace a positive attitude. He reminded them, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
More than a dozen faculty and administrators assisted in the facilitation of this workshop and participated in the teambuilding exercises with the students. St. John’s is guided by its Lasallian values, and that was apparent by the empowering message of each activity and the level of engagement from the speakers and students. “The day of leadership taught students skills that will help them to better live out their faith by being value-centered and attentive to others,” said Tom Sipowicz, St. John’s director of mission integration.