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Cougars LEAD Certificate

 

The Cougars LEAD Certificate equips individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to become effective leaders in their personal and professional lives. Participating students will complete experiences across five leadership styles: 1) transformational leadership, 2) servant leadership, 3) situational leadership, 4) authentic leadership, and 5) experiential leadership.

The Cougars LEAD Leadership Certificate helps students:

  • LEARN about leadership opportunities that exist on and off campus
  • EXPLORE interests and connect with peers, mentors, and staff
  • ACHIEVE leadership identity through action by taking on new roles and tasks
  • DEVELOP lifelong leadership skills to mentor others and create new leaders
Effective Summer 2023: Students no longer need to report their experiences for Cougars LEAD on The Den. 

certificate requirements

Individuals that complete the Cougars LEAD Certificate will be recognized at the Scarlet and Gray Awards Ceremony, receive a medallion to wear at graduation as well as a certificate of completion. Participants will need to:

  1. Complete 16 individual leadership experiences and 4 hours of service learning (outlined in each of the dropdown menus below).
    • Transformational Leadership (4 Experiences)
    • Situational Leadership (4 Experiences)
    • Authentic Leadership (4 Experiences)
    • Experiential Leadership (4 Experiences)
    • Servant Leadership (4 Hours of Service Learning or Volunteer Work)
  2. Attend at least one Synergy Leadership Summit from start to finish.
    • Students that present may receive additional experience credit toward their certificate.
    • Individual Synergy sessions cannot be used to complete the five individual leadership experiences.
  3. Develop a Leadership Portfolio that includes (formatting guidelines below):
    • A reflection of the Synergy Leadership Summit Experience
    • An overview of the 16 experiences and 4 hours of service learning.
    • A leadership philosophy statement with accompanying values
    • A submitted Cougars LEAD Final reflection.
  4. Present their final Leadership Portfolio digitally or in-person.
    • Students wishing to present their portfolio digitally must send a video overview (minimum 10 minutes) to cougarsleadFREESXU.
    • Students interested in presenting their portfolio in-person must schedule their appointment by emailing cougarsleadFREESXU.

Please note: experiences included in the final portfolio may only be used once.

What is a transformational leader?

Transformational leaders value diversity and recognize the importance of creating a positive and inclusive work environment that values and celebrates differences. They encourage and support the contributions of all team members, regardless of their backgrounds or identities, and they work to create a culture of respect, open communication, and collaboration. Transformational leaders also recognize the value of diversity in promoting innovation and creativity, and they actively seek out and incorporate diverse perspectives and ideas into their decision-making processes. Institutional Core Value(s) related to this leadership style category include Diversity, Respect, Compassion, and Hospitality.

What experiences count toward this category?

Students must complete 4 individual experiences of their choosing which include planning or attending diversity, equity, and inclusion events, attending cultural celebrations, participating in organizations tied to diversity, equity, inclusion, or identity, and or demonstrating activism or advocacy to name a few.

What is a situational leader?

Situational leaders are flexible and adaptable, and they adjust their leadership style to meet the needs of the situation and when collaborating with others. They recognize that different situations require different types of leadership, and they are able to shift between directive, supportive, and delegating styles as needed. Institutional Core Value(s) related to this leadership style category include Hospitality, Respect, and Compassion.

What experiences count toward this category?

Students must complete 4 experiences outside the classroom tied to collaboration, teamwork, or working with others which may include holding a mentorship, ambassador, or leadership position on campus, participating in an academic or scholar program, serving on a committee, joining a student organization, attending a Campus Ministry Retreat, or participating in a public speaking engagement to name a few.

What is an authentic leader?

Authentic leaders are true to themselves and their values, and they inspire trust and respect from their followers through their honesty and integrity. They encourage open communication, collaboration, and constructive feedback, and they promote a culture of continuous learning and personal growth. Institutional Core Value(s) related to this leadership style category include Learning for Life, Respect, Hospitality, and Integrity.

What experiences count toward this category?

Students must complete 4 experiences focused on personal or professional development which may include attending a professional development, networking, leadership, career development, or self-care event, learning a new software or tool, or attending a conference to name a few.

What is an experiential leader?

Experiential leaders focus on practical application and hands-on learning, and they encourage their followers to learn by doing. They emphasize the importance of taking risks, learning from failures, and using feedback to improve performance. Institutional Core Value(s) related to this leadership style category include

Excellence and Learning for Life.

What experiences count toward this category?

Students must complete 4 experiences focused on hands-on learning which might include completing an internship, micro-internship, externship, study abroad, undergraduate research, fellowship, practicum, or additional service learning, volunteer, or leadership experiences. This is not an exhaustive list and students are welcome to provide examples of hands-on learning that may not be included in this list.

What is a servant leader?

Servant leaders focus on serving the needs of their followers and the community, rather than their own personal interests or goals. They emphasize the importance of service and volunteerism, and they encourage their followers to develop a sense of social responsibility. Institutional Core Value(s) related to this leadership style category include Service, Compassion, and Hospitality.

What experiences count toward this category?

Students must complete a minimum of 4 hours (total) of service or volunteer work on or off-campus. These hours do not need to be consecutive or the same experience.

Cougars LEAD Leadership Portfolio Project Guidelines

Students will need to complete the information provided in this section to fulfill the requirements of the Cougars LEAD Certificate. The sections of the Portfolio Project include an overview of the Synergy Leadership Summit Experience, an overview of the 16 experiences and 4 hours of service learning, a leadership philosophy statement with accompanying values, and a submitted Cougars LEAD Final Reflection along with proof of submission.

The written components of the Cougars LEAD Portfolio should be free of grammatical errors and include written content for all required sections. Please use a 10 to 12-pt. font, ensure the document is double spaced, and use appropriate formatting which includes headers, page numbers, and a table of contents. If you need assistance with formatting your document, please visit the Purdue Owl.

Please use the Cougars LEAD Final Portfolio Project Template (DOCX) to construct your final portfolio. For specific formatting guidelines and prompts for each section of the final portfolio project, please review the information in each accordion below.

The Synergy Leadership Summit is an annual student-led leadership conference with educational sessions, student panels, engaging activities, and service projects to help students understand various aspects of leadership and work to become inclusive and innovative leaders. Students participating in the Cougars LEAD Leadership Certificate must attend the Synergy Leadership Summit at least once during their time at SXU. Students who present at the Synergy Leadership Summit will receive additional leadership credit toward their Leadership Certificate. Finally, all X-Factor student leaders are required to attend the Synergy Leadership Summit annually.

If you have attended more than one Synergy Leadership Summit, you will only need to report on one Summit. The Synergy Leadership Summit Reflection should be a minimum of 125 words or a half-page (double-spaced) and address the following:

  1. Description of the Event:
  2. Date of Attendance:
  3. Theme:
  4. Sessions Attended at the Summit:
  5. Proof of Completion: (selfie, event photo, or another means of verifying attendance, e.g., event sign in)
  6. How did this experience enhance your leadership identity, leadership style for this category, or skill set?

Each of the 16 individual leadership experiences and 4 Service Hours included in the Portfolio should be a minimum of 125 words or a half-page (double-spaced) and address the following:

  1. Name of the Experience:
  2. Description of the Experience:
  3. Experience Date:
  4. Proof of Completion: (selfie, event photo, or another means of verifying attendance, e.g., event sign in)
  5. How did this experience enhance your leadership identity, leadership style for this category, or skill set?

Students wishing to receive the Cougars LEAD Certificate will develop a leadership philosophy statement. A leadership philosophy statement is a concise expression of a leader's core values, beliefs, and approach to leadership. It outlines their guiding principles, preferred leadership style, and vision for inspiring and influencing others to achieve common goals. Prior to constructing your leadership philosophy statement:

  1. Familiarize yourself with Simon Sinek's Golden Circle model: Watch Simon Sinek's TED Talk: "How Great Leaders Inspire Action."
    • Read articles or watch videos that explain the Golden Circle concept in detail.
    • Reflect on how this model can help you understand your personal motivations and purpose as a leader
  2. Reflect on your "why":
    • Using the Golden Circle model, identify your personal "why" - the purpose, cause, or belief that drives you.
    • Ask yourself questions like: What motivates me to lead? What impact do I want to have? What do I deeply care about? Why do I want to make a difference?
  3. Identify your values: Reflect on your personal values and beliefs.
    • What principles guide your actions and decision-making as a leader?
    • Think of your core values and why these are important to you.
  4. Assess your personal attributes:
    • Consider the personal attributes or qualities that you possess which contribute to effective leadership.
    • Reflect on your strengths, skills, and characteristics that make you a unique leader.
    • Identify areas for growth and improvement, as self-awareness is crucial for leadership development.

Once you have reviewed the materials above and reflected on the various components, compose your leadership philosophy statement. The Leadership Philosophy Statement has no minimum word count.

Consider the following:

  • Using the insights gained from the previous steps and write a comprehensive leadership philosophy statement.
  • Start with your "why" and explain how it shapes your purpose and drives your leadership style.
  • Incorporate your core values, personal attributes, and how they influence your leadership approach.
  • Ensure your statement reflects your authentic self and conveys a clear understanding of your leadership principles.

The final reflection is a valuable component of the Cougars LEAD Certificate program as it allows participants to introspect and reflect on their learning experiences. Through self-assessment and critical evaluation, students can identify personal growth, strengths, and areas for improvement. This reflective process fosters deeper insights, enhances leadership skills, and cultivates a strong sense of self-awareness, enabling them to become more effective and empathetic leaders in their future endeavors. In addition, the Cougars LEAD Final Reflection assesses the learning objectives of the program. Students may complete the reflection The Den.

Please include confirmation of completion in your submitted portfolio, e.g., screenshot or submission confirmation email.

You will want to take note of what you include in the final reflection so that you may include it in your final presentation. You will not be able to access the information you entered again once you click submit. It is best to type up your responses in a separate document and paste these into the reflection form. This will allow you to have access to this information for future use.

In addition to submitting your final written Cougars LEAD Portfolio, you will need to present your portfolio in a creative and engaging way. The portfolio can be presented either in person or digitally through a recording. During the presentation, students will be expected to touch on each of the categories in the portfolio as well as touch on components of the final reflection.

The presentation (whether in-person or digital) should be a minimum of 10 minutes in length. Students are strongly encouraged to create a visual aid to help reviewers better understand their leadership accomplishments. Students are welcome to use any medium to present their information, e.g., PowerPoint, poster project, video, handout, etc.

If you have any questions regarding the formatting or potential experiences for the portfolio, please contact cougarsleadFREESXU. Final portfolios should be emailed to cougarsleadFREESXU. Submissions will need to be received by March 1 to be recognized at the Scarlet and Gray Awards Ceremony of the same year. Submissions received after March 1 will be awarded the following year.