Each year, our faculty and students have the opportunity to travel to places both near and far to present their research and continue diving deeper into their leadership learning. On October 24-27th, a group of faculty and students traveled to the East Coast and attended the annual International Leadership Association (ILA) Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The ILA Conference is a space where leaders and scholars from all corners of the world come together to present research findings and engage in enriching dialogue in order to make progress on the field of leadership studies.
While our faculty shared their meaningful research and engaged with other internationally-recognized scholars and practitioners during the conference, our team of undergraduate students; Tori Burkhart, Zach Hilbig, Anton Smith, and Adrianna Gordey, competed in a case competition and explored new dimensions of leadership by attending presentations and sessions.
“One of the really cool things that the team had the opportunity to do at the conference was to see how other academics and practitioners from around the world view and interpret leadership. It was a broadening experience for the students,” said Andy Wefald, who served as the team’s coach.
The ILA Student Case Competition invites students to select and prepare an analysis of a socio-political-economic issue and showcase their knowledge at the conference. This year, our team of students dove into research surrounding climate change, where they applied leadership concepts in order to implement solutions to mitigate global emissions.
Here’s what our students have to say about their experience:
“Throughout the conference, I was able to grow by constantly learning from and being challenged by my remarkable teammates. Every single member of our team had something unique to bring to our system, which is what allowed us to come together to form a cohesive unit,” said Burkhart. “It was also amazing to watch Staley School faculty members present their research during the conference. We see them every day teaching in the classroom, however, it’s a completely different experience seeing them talk about the specific research they’re so passionate about. Moving forward, I will always cherish all of the memories, learning, and relationships created through the 2018 ILA Conference.”
“I think one of my most impactful discoveries from this experience was seeing a totally different perspective on what leadership is on an international level. Leadership is just a label for the never-ending topics within,” said Hilbig. “Not only was this experience a great way to use my own leadership inventory in both a casual and professional manner, but I witnessed influential leaders across the world do the same. ILA helped me identify strengths and weaknesses within my own character and continued to broaden my perspective on how humans interact, on a global level. It isn’t often when the chance to represent your brilliant school at a national level.”
The conference proved to be enriching, transformative, and life-changing for Gordey as well. “The five days we were in West Palm Beach, I enjoyed many firsts: my first flight — turbulence is my favorite part of flying –, my first conference, my first time seeing the ocean — the newest love of my life –, and my first time thinking about leadership creatively rather than academically. I learned leadership extends beyond academic papers and classrooms; it exists in cultural phenomenon, social media movements, in the everyday and seemingly mundane. The conference re-inspired me to think about how I am engaging in my communities and what new methods/strategies I can implement in those spaces to build progressive, inclusive environments for people to coexist in. It also made me appreciate the program we have implemented at the Staley School because it is founded in building collaborative relationships and sharing leadership roles rather than founding hierarchies that prioritize certain voices over others. We are lucky to have supportive, kind, and invested individuals on staff, and I am so grateful to them for giving me this opportunity to represent the school,” Gordey shared.
Not only was the case studies competition an invaluable experience for the students, but being surrounded by an abundant number of academic and purpose-driven scholars and leaders also brought forth a great amount of growth and learning.
“It was very helpful to me to see the research side of leadership and how this field of study is growing and advancing, rather than just the perspective of a student being taught these concepts. It was also really cool to engage with these professors and experts during and after their presentations,” said Smith. “Another observation I made was just how well represented the Staley School was and Kansas State University as a whole. Seeing former faculty and alumni of the program, as well as other people with connections to K-State, shows just influential and special the kind of thing that we have going on in Leadership Studies.”
The students collectively agreed that the 2018 ILA Conference was one of the most impactful experiences during their undergraduate careers at Kansas State.
“In short, it was the best experience I’ve had with the Staley School and I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about leadership and see the far reaches of our world-renowned program to attend,” Smith said.
For students who are interested in learning more about the 2019 ILA Conference and the ILA Student Case Studies Competition, contact Andy Wefald at firstname.lastname@example.org.