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Leading the way through self-discovery

"I'm not what I ought to be, not what I want to be, not what I'm going to be, but I am thankful that I am better than I used to be." These are the tried-and-true words of former UCLS head coach, John Wooden. Today, it is the motto students in the Minot State University Leadership Development Program are taught to live by.

"You are not the person you were yesterday, nor are you the person you will be tomorrow. A person needs to learn what path they are on now in order to become the person they envision and want to be," said Andy Bertsch, Minot State University professor of Business Administration.

Alumnus Roger Looyenga, retired CEO of Auto-Owners Insurance Group, once shared his sentiment that too much emphasis is put on management and more people should perform based on their abilities. His solution to this sentiment was to initiate a program in business leadership, which he set in motion with a $100,000 gift to Minot State University in 2010.

In spring 2011, a committee decided the program's focus should be on creating a unique approach to leadership development. Today, MSU's leadership development model is: self-awareness; self-management; social awareness; and relationship management. It provides students with the knowledge to become engaged as a servant and make a contribution. This model also leveraged the engagement portion of Vision 2013.

There are high expectations for the students chosen to be a part of the Leadership Development Program. From its inception, nine projects have been completed, and it has been such a success that organizations throughout the community have requested teams to help them with specific projects. This year, a group helped Minot's Domestic Violence Crisis Center raise over $6,000 to furnish the inside of a new safe home; another group assisted the Children's Advocacy Center by raising over $9,000 in a child abuse awareness and prevention event, called "Stand Up, Speak Out, Stop It," and the Elementary School Mentorship group taught elementary students about what characteristics describe a leader and how they can become better leaders.

"If these students want to manage other individual's strengths and weaknesses, they have to do it for themselves first," Bertsch said. "You can't fix other people's weaknesses if you can't do it for yourself. So we really challenge them for both semesters to continue on that journey of self-discovery. It's going to make you a kinder leader when you are counseling others."

The Leadership Development Program began three years ago as a pilot program and has now been adopted by the university and will become a permanent program in fall 2014.

For more information about the program, contact Bertsch at 701-858-4486, or andy.bertsch@minotstateu.edu.