by John Gagnon
You cannot lead if people won't follow, and in January fifty-two Michigan Tech students received intensive lessons in how to take charge without bossing people around.
"Some of my best teachers are people who worked for me," local businessman Steve Bethel told the students gathered at Michigan Tech's Ford Center in Alberta, forty miles south of campus, where they tackled, in the words of one student, "cool stuff like changing the world."
The occasion was LeaderShape, a six-day immersion in "leading with integrity." Students weighed ideas: being fair and square; letting others take the lead and the credit; "having each other's back"; leading by example, not directive; being guided by principles, not self-interest; and steadily working at it. "You're not born a leader," Bethel told the group. "You have to earn that."
This is year fourteen of LeaderShape at Tech; since 1996, more than 600 students have participated in this rigorous, internationally recognized institute.