Competition provides practice field for leadership skills

April 7th, 2016



The Collegiate Leadership Competition (CLC) is only one day away from its second annual competition, to be held on Saturday of this weekend in the Dolan Center for Science and Technology.


Represented in the 2016 competition will be a total of six teams representing Walsh, Akron and Widener Universities, the University of Southern Maine and naturally this weekend’s host: John Carroll.


It has been a few years since Scott Allen, a professor of management development within the Boler School of Business, first began to realize that as far as the leadership skills he teaches his students, he didn’t have an answer as to where and how the teams would practice.


“People rehearse their acting because they’re going to give a performance; they go to football practice because they’re going to play in a game,” he explains. “But there is a gap for students to practice leadership.”



Junior Emily Koeritzer would agree. “As a leadership minor, I learn a lot of dry theory in my classes, which can get boring,” she said.


Two years ago, Allen proposed the idea he had about creating a competition, which would provide college students with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills to a colleague from Widener University.


The two set to work, planning, designing and promoting their brainchild. Last year, the first CLC took place at Widener, which is found just outside of Philadelphia. “It was awesome,” Allen, who coached his students throughout the two-day-long event, recalls. “The team had a great experience representing John Carroll, and saw tangible improvement in their leadership skills.”


Koeritzer, now a second-year competitor, expresses that by participating in the competition she’s been able to “practice hands-on” the material she is taught in class, outside the classroom setting.


Bridges Sayers said that the CLC has caused her to “step up the game as a rising leader here on campus.” Although Sayers is the first freshman to compete, she had already been interested in the leadership development program offered at JCU. Sayers said the CLC gave her “a structured environment in which I could put these skills to practical use, and test myself in a real-world setting.”


The teams traveling to John Carroll for this weekend’s competition go through a schedule very similar to that of last year’s, in which they share dinner together on Friday evening before spending the whole of Saturday locked in intellectual competition.


Each team has been engaging in weekly practices simulating the various activities they will be faced with during the actual event for months. “The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ rings true, even in the world of leadership,” said Allen. Sayers finds the weekly practices “actually really fun!” She explains, “We do these little challenges like the egg drop (we have to find the egg and supplies and be able to protect it) to build teamwork and enhance creative thinking capabilities.”


Junior Zeanna Otis said that what she enjoys about the CLC is the opportunity to “work on a team with people of all different leadership styles.”


Half the students who made up last year’s team have returned as second-year competitors, and the original number of those participating has doubled. “Can you develop leaders? Research says ‘yes.’ So we’re exploring,” Allen says. He hopes ultimately that the CLC will become an international event with teams from universities across the globe represented. “I was at a conference in Barcelona last year at which there were people from all over the world, and they were very receptive to the idea. So we’re going for it, or so to speak,” said Allen.


As she prepares for this weekend’s event, senior Hannah Rich wants to remind the John Carroll student body that, “students of all majors are welcome.” Rich continued, “It’s really cool to be able to be among the first take part in something that originated here at John Carroll, and will eventually go international.”