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But How Do You Feel?

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Assessment of Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

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Paper Authors


Werner Zorman Harvey Mudd College

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Werner Zorman is the Associate Professor and Annenberg Chair of Leadership at Harvey Mudd College. Before he joined Harvey Mudd, he was the Associate Director of Leadership Programs at Cornell’s College of Engineering from 2012 to 2016.

Mr. Zorman received his M.S. degree in computer science from the University of Technology in Vienna. He worked for 23+ years in the telecom industry in Europe and North America as engineer, leader, mentor, coach and leadership development professional.

After a long and fulfilling customer-facing career, Mr. Zorman decided in 2007 to change his career direction and to focus on leadership development, mentoring and coaching to support engineers on their journey to become effective and successful leaders. He designed and delivered programs in the area of leadership- and team development addressing areas like authentic leadership, effective communication, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and customer service excellence.

It was during those five years when he realized that supporting young professionals with their leadership development is his life calling. He decided to leave corporate business and accepted a position at Cornell’s College of Engineering.

During the last years, Mr. Zorman has focused on the design and implementation of a student-driven laboratory method which supports the development of authentic leadership skills.

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But how do you Feel? Authentic Leadership Development Through a Student-Driven Laboratory Method

The mission of our leadership program is to develop authentic engineering leaders who have a positive impact on society. Since Bill George published his book “Authentic Leadership” in 2003, many leadership experts have researched the attributes and benefits of authentic leadership. Much less research has been done about the development of authentic leadership skills, yet leadership experts agree that a regular training or lecture will not be enough and (Eich 2008) emphasizes that an effective leadership development program must have the following attributes:

• participants are engaged in building and sustaining a learning community focused on the development of each member • student-centered experiential learning experience • research-grounded continuous program development

These attributes informed the design of our semester-long course which is based on a student-driven, student-centered, and highly experiential laboratory methodology. The objective of this course is to support our students with the development of their authentic leadership skills. We piloted our course in Spring 2017 with 13 students who met weekly for 165 minutes. The students start with a 30-minute discussion about the week’s reading assignments which includes theories, models and concepts related to intra- and interpersonal skill development, group dynamics, and group development. For the remaining time, the students engage in conversations and activities with the objectives to understand their impact on each other, to try out adjusted behaviors, and to gain insights into team dynamics and team development. The students write weekly reflection papers about their impressions, thoughts, and feelings they experienced during class. The semester-long course culminates with a weekend-long off-campus capstone experience which includes six additional intensive human interaction laboratories. After the weekend the students write a final paper.

We use the students’ weekly reflection papers and their final papers as the primary assessment data for our qualitative research. We also use the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ) components to code the student writing samples and assess the development of their authentic leadership skills. As an example, one ALQ component is described as “Shows he or she understands how specific actions impact others.” and we have seen that our students have improved greatly when it comes to understanding the impact of their actions on others.

The initial results of our research support our hypothesis that the used human interaction laboratory method supports students’ development of authentic leadership skills and we will use the reflection papers and final reports from our Fall 2017 class and the planned Spring 2018 classes to test our hypothesis.

Zorman, W. (2018, June), But How Do You Feel? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30167

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