Norwich students praise Coaching for Leadership program

Junior Noah Clemmer participates in an ethical decision-making exercise during the Coaching for Leadership program. Photo by Mark Collier

Junior Noah Clemmer participates in an ethical decision-making exercise during the Coaching for Leadership program. Photo by Mark Collier

On Saturday, March 5th, Norwich University held its annual Coaching for Leadership Program (CLP). According to the university’s website, the purpose of the CLP is to help students “build self-awareness and prepare for real-world careers in the public and private sectors”.

Students from both the civilian side and the Corps of Cadets participated in the day-long event. Similar to results from years past, both students and alumni mentors felt that the CLP was a success.

“The whole event was something that I am definitely going to propose to my superiors when I get back home,” said Nikola Manev, a study-abroad student from Macedonia who participated in the CLP.

The CLP was largely organized by Stephen Pomeroy, the associate director for the school of Business and Management at Norwich. Pomeroy mentioned that the program owes its creation to Eric Curtis (98’), who attended a similar event at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.

“Eric brought it to us about three or four years ago and we started with 25 students and 25 alumni the first year and then the next year 50 and 50, and the next year 75 and 75,” said Pomeroy.

Pomeroy described how the program works. Groups of students are given case studies that focus on ethical or leadership problems. After working in groups to analyze the case studies, each student is individually critiqued by an alumni on their performance in the group based on leadership factors.

“You get feedback which is not biased in any way. If you ask your parents, or subordinates you wouldn’t expect to get that kind of feedback,” said Manev.

Throughout the program, the alumni coaches focused on the importance of ethical leadership, Manev explained. He said there was also the integration of the Norwich cadet’s creed with the case studies.

“The Norwich creed was written down and with one specific case study, we studied how employees would uphold the creed or break it to attain more customers or go into a different market,” said Manev.

“One of the big things was ethics,” said Alexander Derosa, a 19 year-old sophomore majoring in business management. “Know what your ethics are and when you know something’s right you stick to it. It’s better to be on an island doing something right, than be in a group of people doing something wrong.”

Aside from simply training the students to be better leaders, the mentors gave the students a chance to learn more about what it takes to obtain a job and how to market themselves more effectively.

Derosa shared some advice he received, “A lot of it was really tailored. I have an internship interview I have to get ready for, and they gave me a lot of helpful tips.”

One of the other main points of discussion among the alumni and the students was the idea of a student learning how to improve their “elevator pitch.”

Manev described the “elevator pitch” as a speech in which a person expresses their best qualities within a very short time-frame, such as during an interview.

“My coach and I talked about how I can improve that elevator pitch and how I can sell myself,” said Manev.

While the students learned a lot throughout the day, some of the alumni mentioned that they learned a thing or two as well. Robert Dawson, ’98, spoke about how he too was able to learn through teaching.

“If you’re game for it, you never stop learning. In fact, by teaching and coaching others you should be learning yourself, and I learned that lesson when I was at Norwich. If nothing else, you’re learning how to interact with people.”

Elizabeth Kennedy, ’01, who works as the senior director of development at Norwich, spoke about how her involvement in the CLP actually helps her improve her work at the university.

“Part of my job is to work with alumni donors to support the university and it helps me because I’ve identified through this program some pretty stellar students. I know if I have a donor coming to campus or an alum that wants to talk to a student, it has given me the opportunity to identify some really solid students that I know are never going to embarrass me and an alum is going to have a good experience with.”

Since the beginning, the program has continued to grow each year. Pomeroy mentioned how the coaching feedback has been positive from previous years. This year was no different.

Dawson mentioned that many alumni return yearly to participate because of the service-oriented culture at Norwich. He believes that this culture attracts people wanting to give back to the school.

“The coaches to me all seem interested, eager, and excited to give back,” said Dawson.

This is Kennedy’s third year at the CLP. She has seen how helpful the program is for students and wishes she had something similar when she was an undergraduate.

“As a graduate, I wish an opportunity like this had existed when I was a student. I thought I knew everything there was to know but really I had no concept of some of the things that were going to be really important,” said Kennedy.

She continued, “I thought my leadership competencies were one hundred percent and I had nothing to learn, but really they were probably pretty flawed and it would have been nice to have had that heads-up then, instead of figuring it out the hard way.”

Before they are able to take part in the CLP, first time alumni must undergo an online training session first. It is not a requirement for alumni who have done it in the past. However, Pomeroy feels it is still helpful because it enables coaches to improve their interactions with the students.

Although the program has shown success, Pomeroy mentioned that the school is not sure whether or not they want to expand or keep the number of participants relatively the same.

“We’re kind of torn between recommending that it be required for all of a particular class or just staying with the pilot stage of 75 to 100 students with 75 to 100 alumni.”

“If you’re game for it, you never stop learning. In fact, by teaching and coaching others you should be learning yourself, and I learned that lesson when I was at Norwich,” said Robert Dawson, NU ‘98

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