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Leading With Integrity: YorkU Leadershape 2015

Life changing. Inspiring. Insightful. Transformational.

These are the words 60 students who departed from the Keele campus on October 25, might use to describe their experience about their next 6 days. After an application and interview process, 60 diverse student leaders were invited to attend York’s 2015 Leadershape Institute. These 60 leaders from both Glendon and Keele, represent various facets of campus life: they are residence dons, college and athletic council members, Orientation chairs, work study students from SCLD and club executives.

A 30 minute drive later, 2 buses pulled into YMCA Cedar Glen, an off campus retreat centre located in the cozy countryside of Schomberg, Ontario. Against a backdrop of beautiful fall foliage, this site would facilitate 6 intense days of learning and introspection in a supportive and respectful community. The Leadershape Institute has been offered for the past 8 years by Student Community & Leadership Development’s Student Leadership Program. The accommodation, food and transportation costs of this leadership program is generously covered by various departments and York community sponsors.

Family. Constructive. Positivity.  Encouragement.

Upon arriving, some of the unknown is finally revealed to the participants. They are introduced to the proud Bostonian, Chris, and freezing Texan, Doug: two hilarious, passionate and engaging Institute facilitators responsible for co-leading the Leadershape curriculum. Along with roommate assignments, the jam packed itinerary is also divulged. Each day presents a theme: Building Community, The Value of One, the Power of All, Challenging What Is and Looking to What Could Be, Bringing Vision to Reality, Living and Leading with Integrity and Staying in Action.

But the biggest and most anticipated unknown is revealed later that evening: The Family Clusters. Family Clusters are comprised of 11 to 12 students plus a Cluster Facilitator. In these clusters, participants receive feedback, support and the opportunity to form lifelong friendships.

Profound.  Supportive.  Challenging. Growth.

LeaderShape challenges students to lead with integrity, and to develop a vision rooted in core values. This isn’t your average leadership workshop, conference or lecture. Each day is highly interactive and inclusive. There is time to reflect and time to discuss. There are times to engage in active listening from guest leaders, and times to be vulnerable during family cluster time. Leadership is defined, cultural lens are brought into perspective, behaviours are examined, community is created and risks are taken.

But most importantly, 60 compelling and vivid visions are developed from a healthy disregard for the impossible. Ranging from global health issues, to education, to social justice, the passion and core values are catalysts for every participant to create positive change.

If you meet someone who went to Leadershape, ask them about their experience. Ask them how they brought back what they learned at Leadershape to their current leadership roles. Or make it a priority to apply next year and find out yourself. Are you willing to learn how to become an effective leader and change the world in 6 days?

Commitment. Possibility. Action. Integrity. 

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