Two years ago, OU Extended Campus began offering the , a unique completion option for Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership students. Since then, students completing the program have found it to be so much more than an avenue to graduate.
In addition to a well-rounded education, students claim the program has changed not only the way they see themselves, but how they approach their jobs and even how they parent their children.
How it Works
The three-part development program includes the Leadership Development Experience (Experiential Leadership I), Action Research (Experiential Leadership II) and a focused comprehensive exam.
Instructor Ruby Daniels said choosing this completion option over the others offers the following major benefits for students:
- It provides students with a personalized leadership experience
- It enriches students’ connection with the university
- It saves students time and money
“Dr. Paul Dyer, who facilitates the ELCP, is an industry expert who conducts similar experiential leadership sessions with business executives across the country,” Daniels said. “After assessing each student’s individual leadership style, Dr. Dyer unpacks the results of each assessment and guides students through a reflective process to help them develop a personalized leadership plan.”
“I will 100% recommend the ELCP option. I’ve been in law enforcement leadership positions for most of my 25-year career, and I’ve attended a lot of leadership training. I learned so much that I’ve never learned before, and the thing I love most about it is it’s all easily transferable. I can honestly say I owe a lot of career and life improvement to the ELCP."
- Jeffery Robertson, May 2019 Graduate
Students who’ve completed the ELCP say one of the most rewarding components of the program is the Leadership Development Experience (LDE), a five-day, immersive classroom experience that brings students to the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus where they meet professors and classmates face to face.
A Deeper Understanding
The immersion experience packs a lot into one week. Students say spending that time on campus results in a deeper sense of community within the program and a more focused understanding of leadership, both things they wouldn’t have received if they’d chosen an alternate completion option.
Lizzie Charon, a 2018 graduate who works as a student support coordinator at a high school in Edmond, said at first, she was a little intimidated to attend a class on the OU campus. She received her bachelor’s degree from a small university, and her OU classes had all been online. She said her nerves were quickly put at ease, and she knew within the first five minutes of being on campus for the LDE that she’d made the right decision for her master’s program.
“I chose the ELCP option because I liked the idea of not only understanding other people better, but also understanding myself better,” said Charon. “I also liked the idea of getting to connect with classmates in person rather than just seeing their name and pictures on blog posts. The environment within the classroom was calm, inviting, kind and very energetic. I came home daily thrilled to tell my husband all that I had learned that day, and how I knew it would better my life for having done it.”
Melissa Watson, a 2019 graduate who leads a team of 11 women at a fair-trade accessories company, said she originally chose the ELCP because she wanted to discover new and innovative ways to lead in a nontraditional setting.
She wasn’t sure if she would have much to offer the class, and she was a little nervous about interacting with other students in person. That all changed the minute she was on campus.
“It was so much fun to realize we had experienced a few classes together. We found ourselves remembering, or commiserating, on challenging classes or assignments,” Watson said. “The truth is that people’s names in the classes can often just blur together, and the people in the ELCP course will forever be real people with real stories. I’m so grateful to have met them.”
Watson said another important feature of the program was the personalized feedback she received on assessments she took prior to arriving on campus.
“I was able to get deep insight into my actions, as well as some wonderful growth points,” she said. “In addition, the mix of lecture and activities was really amazing. While there was some lecture time, the ability to take what we were learning and put it into practice immediately was not only useful, but it helped to cement what we were learning.”
Jeffery Robertson, who graduated from the program in May 2019, said he originally entered the program to advance his career in law enforcement. A busy professional, he was attracted to the ELCP because of its abbreviated time frame, and he wanted to spend a week on campus interacting with professors and students.
“I arrived very curious about the size of the class and whether it would be more of an interactive training experience or an academic/reading/writing experience,” Robertson said. “I quickly became excited about the type of experience we were going to have and did my best to immerse myself in the experience.”
Robertson said the individual time spent going over his assessments was invaluable, and it led him to determine a path for his future after retirement. He said the whole experience was the best leadership training he’s ever received, and it’s made him a better listener and a better leader.
“I will 100% recommend the ELCP option. I’ve been in law enforcement leadership positions for most of my 25-year career, and I’ve attended a lot of leadership training. I learned so much that I’ve never learned before, and the thing I love most about it is it’s all easily transferable. I can honestly say I owe a lot of career and life improvement to the ELCP,” he said. “I’ve already implemented a lot of the techniques and exercises in my current position and look forward to implementing more of them.”
Charon also appreciated the assessments done prior to coming to class and then going over them once on campus. She’s been able to harness the positive feedback to find motivation to push through any negativity she experiences at work.
“Toward the end of the week, we met one-on-one with a professor, and we went through conversations about what our strengths and weaknesses are,” she said. “I will probably always remember Dr. Ruby telling me that my ‘purple cow’ that makes me stand out from others in the best way is actually something I had always been self-conscious about until then. That one conversation has completely changed my life in the best way imaginable.”
A Life-Changing Experience
Dyer said the ELCP not only helps students improve their leadership skills, but it also helps them increase their self-awareness and ability to manage others and build effective teams.
“Nothing is more important to an organization’s success than the quality of its leaders,” Dyer said. “The ELCP will help students improve both their personal leadership skills, as well as their ability to grow leaders within an organizational context.”
Charon said anyone in the MAOL program should consider the ELCP, especially for the one-week Leadership Development Experience.
“I learned more about myself in that one week than I could have imagined in a lifetime. There is no other completion option that will give you not only immense knowledge about concepts for the Organizational Leadership degree, but also about yourself,” she said. “It’s one thing to be knowledgeable with theories and terminology from a textbook, but the immediate application and relation to oneself are invaluable. I highly recommend it to anyone considering the program. It will not be something that students would regret doing later.”
The next Leadership Development Experience will be June 19-23 with an enrollment deadline of May 24. The Fall 2019 Leadership Development Experience is set for Oct. 16-20.
MAOL students wishing to choose the ELCP option should talk to their advisor.