Contributing Writer: Megan Preston
Leading Edge is Georgia Tech’s premier one-on-one leadership development coaching program. Sponsored by the Division of Student Life’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) office, the growing program has played an instrumental role in participants’ lives. All Georgia Tech students are welcome to apply for one-one-one leadership coaching. The program stresses the adage that anyone can be a leader, regardless of role or formal position.
Students meet with a trained graduate student, faculty, or staff coach during hour-long sessions five-six times a semester for a transformative growth experience. It’s a small commitment of time that produces large results. Self-assessments, outside feedback, and individually-tailored experiments combine to create an environment of constant learning and challenge. Leading Edge pulls participants and coaches from across the entire campus community, providing a unique forum for new connections and insights.
Anthony Remensnyder, 4th Year Business Administration Student, had such a powerful and positive experience as a coachee with the program that he went on to join the LEAD Recruitment Team. Leading Edge taught him how “to consistently take a step back and look at situations holistically” and grow “in areas where I thought I’d always stay the same.”
Maggie Howell, 4th Year BME Student and Spring 2016 participant, concurs. “Leading Edge has given me a fantastic coach and connection, renewed confidence in the skills I am honing, and a fresh perspective on leadership and its effects,” she says. Howell especially appreciated these attributes when she served in her most impactful leadership role yet as President of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. “I now understand better how to experiment with my leadership style, and have been able to serve as a coach to others I lead in my respective field of influence,” she says.
They are far from the only students who appreciate the fresh approach Leading Edge provides. As Manasi Deshpande, 3rd Year BME Student and Spring 2016 participant, worked with her coach, she “learned how to foster collaboration, camaraderie, and most importantly, trust” within a team in one of her courses that semester. “Leading Edge has catalyzed my journey at Tech, by giving me the confidence, courage and conviction to handle any situation that could be thrown at me,” she says.
The benefits of the coaching program spill over to the coaches themselves, who gain perspective on their own leadership styles and problem-solving approaches. Maggie Miller, International Education Manager in Tech’s Office of International Education and AY15-17 Leadership Fellow, agrees. “I loved seeing the growth of my coachees; watching them gain confidence through carrying out their leadership experiments was so rewarding and inspiring.” She particularly enjoys the opportunity to work directly with students, a contrast from her experience in a highly administrative role.
Fourth year PhD Student and AY15-16 Leadership Fellow Federico Pulvirenti loves coaching not only because of the chance “to make a significant contribution in the lives of my coachees” but also because of how it has helped him better understand himself. “Coaching has taught me how to me more organized and how to view problems from a lot of different perspectives. I learned how to let a person open up and actively reflect on his or her potential by asking powerful questions, that stimulate but do not intimidate. I find myself capable of understanding and managing diversity better,” he says of his involvement in the program.
Leading Edge recruits undergraduate and graduate coachees every semester, and graduate, faculty, and staff coaches in March for the upcoming academic year.