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Leadership & Professional Development Initiative 

Presented by Stephanie Knight, Director of Leadership Programs – March 3, 2020

Purdue University strives to create holistic leadership experiences for students. The Leadership and Professional Development Initiative (LPDI) promotes student success by helping undergraduates learn how to lead in the classroom, workplace, community and world. The question is: “What do they need in order to be able to synthesize their experiences to create their best selves during their time at Purdue, their time in their career and also in society.”

The Roger C. Stewart LEAP (Leadership Experience at Purdue)

Roger C. Stewart, an alum and longtime supporter of Purdue University, has supported the Leadership & Professional Development Initiative (LPDI) though a generous donation.  LEAP consists of 5 workshops over a ten-week period.

Learning to Synthesize Experiences
Feedback received at the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) indicate that students often do not synthesize all of their experiences. For example, they do not say, "Yes, I've dealt with conflict management in this group project, in this student organization and at my job." They may not see how all of their experiences relate to one another. Staff in the LPDI help students to understand and tie their experiences together.

myStrengths Assessment

myStrengths assessment is based on the CliftonStrengths method developed by Gallup. Students may log into the Purdue myStrengths portal and take the assessment. The myStrengths assessment is part of incoming students pre-work for Boiler Gold Rush.

myStrengths creates a community, a space where students see people they admire, such as staff and faculty who have shared their strengths and taken the assessment. Gallup advises that students should engage with myStrengths 24 times during their four years on campus. This is a goal for which Purdue is still striving.

LPDI Competencies—A Roadmap for Students’ Focus

The Leadership & Professional Development competencies were identified based on feedback from faculty, staff, alumni, students and employers. The competencies list are based on Dr. Corey Seemiller’s work in analyzing the learning outcomes of 522 academic accrediting agencies and categorized by the Purdue Core Curriculum embedded outcomes categories. LPDI is working to map the competencies to campus experiences (i.e. courses, activities, programs, and employment) and sharing the mapping via an  experiences database. If you have a campus experience where students can either gain knowledge or hone their skills in any of the competencies that you would like to add or edit, contact to have it added to the database. 

  1. Communication

      Hearing what is being said and observing nonverbal cues to prevent miscommunication, promote understanding, gather and receive feedback, and demonstrate a sense of caring about what others want to communicate.

      Using body language, gestures, other cues, and visual aids to support the conveyance of meaning.

      Selecting, sorting, and combing information in order to capture and reflect on important facts, concepts, and processes leading to increased comprehension and the ability to convey information in a concise and coherent manner.

      Using spoken and/or signed communication to share information with others one-on-one, in small groups, and/or in front of a large audience in a clear, concise, and persuasive manner.

      Using written formats to share information with others in a clear, concise, and persuasive manner.

  2. Intrapersonal Awareness & Development

      Committing to constant expansion and improvement of skills, abilities, knowledge and understanding by adopting continuous learning strategies (e.g., seeking feedback, observing others, exploring alternatives, practicing current skills, seeking training and education, etc.).

      Taking charge of a situation either individually to fill a need or motivating others to take action. Completing tasks without having to be followed-up with or reminded and can be relied upon and trusted to carry out commitments.

      Accepting ownership for not meeting expectations or achieving desired outcomes, receives feedback from others and is able to consider it in order to develop competencies and effectiveness.

      Facing challenges, adversity, and major setbacks and learning from the experience, take corrective action, and rise to the next challenge.

      Understanding one’s beliefs, values, culture, actions, personality, strengths, and weaknesses.

  3. Interpersonal Skills & Intercultural Knowledge

      Assessing a situation and engaging in interactions, relations, and exchanges based on what is suitable for the context and person or people involved. Cultivating connections or associations with others that contribute positively to the well-being of those involved.

      Understanding how diverse perspectives, backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, experiences and/or historical dynamics can influence groups and individuals and enhance a group’s effectiveness; acting to foster an environment in which people feel welcomed, valued, free to share viewpoints, contribute to a cause or task, or simply have a sense of belonging.

      Understanding the importance teamwork has for the effectiveness of groups and organizations and using that understanding to foster a culture of helping others and collaboration.

      Understanding how groups develop; anticipating, navigating, mitigating, and responding to behaviors of a group and the people in it to foster group development to enhance the group’s efficiency and effectiveness.

      Understanding the rights and obligations one has as a citizen in communities, nations, and the world; how cultural, social, and historical dynamics influence groups and individuals; and how engaging in responsible decision-making, ethical actions and meaningful service enhances the welfare of society and its members.

  4. Ways of Thinking

      Defines a problem or issue; identifies its potential causes; specifies a desired outcome; employs critical, practical, and creative thinking skills to generate possible solutions; and identifies and implements effective criteria for choosing amongst possible solutions.

    • ETHICS
      Understanding standards and expectations for personal and professional ethical behavior by acting in accord with an appropriate set of social norms, beliefs, and cultural values (e.g., trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship). Considers implications of actions and shows an awareness of the need to hold one’s self to a higher standard.

      Developing new and/or novel ideas through critical thinking and creative processes that address issues and/or lead to change.

      Considering the past and learning from successes and failures –own and others’ – to understand a situation, strategies used, and the impact of decisions. Employing critical, practical, and creative thinking skills within an ethical framework to connect disparate information; understanding the context of the situation from multiple perspectives; synthesizing information; being open-minded and flexible while considering multiple possible solutions.

      Identifying tasks and setting deadlines to design, evaluate, and implement strategies to answer questions or achieve desired goals. Assessing a situation, organization, or network through examination of the linkages, interconnections, and/or interactions of it component parts – both internal and external – to better understand how it works, to be able to navigate through ripple effects of others’ decisions, and to make decisions that consider impact on a larger network or system.

Take Excellence to Extraordinary

Purdue wants to emphasize natural talents and abilities rather than focus on a deficit-based model where the emphasis is on weaknesses. Rather than take mediocrity to okay, we want to take excellence to extraordinary.

Emily Mauzy Vogel Sophomore Leadership Retreat

The Emily Mauzy Vogel Sophomore Leadership Development Retreat is an intensive, overnight program involving teambuilding, leadership inventories and personal development. It introduces participants to strengths-based approaches to inclusive leadership.


The LPDI and the CCO have partnered with  Portfolium to provide Purdue West Lafayette with an e-portfolio.  Portfolium is an ePortfolio network for students and alumni to visually showcase their work and projects directly to employers, faculty, fellow students and alumni—proving their skills and experiences beyond the limits of a traditional resume. The social networking features built into Portfolium make it fun, simple and powerful. Students can directly correlate their academic work to real job requirements—connecting their learning (both inside and outside of the classroom) with opportunities.

  1. Collect Experiences
  2. Reflect on Experiences
  3. Connect
  4. Curate/Organize Artifacts
  5. Showcase Learning, Development, & Achievements

Share Your Program and/or Tools

If there is a program in development or one developed that is under evaluation, LPDI is happy to serve as a consultant. Also, if there is a tool that may be useful in the development of students, contact LPDI to add the tool or resource to those available for faculty and staff.

Questions or comments about Steps to Leaps? Contact us at



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