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Leadership Resources

Our Leadership Toolbox video series gives John Martinson Honors College students the tools they need to succeed academically, on campus and on the job market. The topics we cover, including conflict management, networking, collaboration and social responsibility, can be instantly applied to real world situations. Tap into your strengths, awaken them in others, dig into your Leadership Toolbox.

Leadership Starts With the Self


  • Commitment to honesty about yourself and your personhood and all that makes you the unique person that you area.
  • Knowing your strengths and areas of growth-weaknesses is too static of a term.
  • Knowing the complexity of who you are (e.g., multiple intelligences) and that all individuals have different profiles of skills and abilities.


  • Accepting yourself as a human being who is not and never will be perfect. Perfect is not reality.
  • Those you lead need to see you as a human role model—not as some kind of fake perfect role model. Trying to portray a perfect persona is not helpful—and actually can be harmful to others. They will think they need to try and be perfect too.
  • You will make mistakes and decisions you make will not go well. Focus on what it is you can learn from those experiences. We honestly learn more from situations that do not go quite as we planned.
  • If you are open to talking out loud about your mistakes and lessons learned with those you lead, they will respect you more and they will have the opportunity to learn this process of reflection from you.
  • Be gentle and kind to yourself—you deserve as much kindness as you tend to offer to others.


  • Time alone—take time to “let the dust” settle—for your thoughts to flow without interruption.
  • Plan at least one specific activity per week that you enjoy doing, an activity that fills you up and gives you back some of the energy you have used during the week. No one can pick this activity for you. You need to reflect on what type of activity will be most helpful and meaningful to you. Be specific too. For example, it is not enough to say talk with a friend. Get yourself to specify how often and for how long.

Professional Networking

Know Yourself

  • Before you get to know others, you need to know yourself. Who are you? What is your personal brand? What attributes define you?
  • Part of this is assessing your skills and abilities, not only the skills you possess now, but gifts you hope to cultivate and attain in the future.
  • What are your personal values? How will these values impact the type of organization you will eventually be working with? What are your professional values? Once you understand yourself and what you bring to the table, you can effectively begin networking.

Who Do You Connect With?

  • Start with family; it’s a good, comfortable first step. Who within your own circle is involved in an occupation that can help inform your career path and make connections?
  • Now, examine friends of family. Who does a parent or significant other know?
  • What about the family of friends? This could be the parent of a roommate or a classmate.
  • If you are open to talking out loud about your mistakes and lessons learned with those you lead, they will respect you more and they will have the opportunity to learn this process of reflection from you.
  • Also, consider people you know through part-time jobs, student organizations or your professors/advisors.

How Do You Connect With Them?

  • Don’t miss opportunities on campus, like alumni weekend or homecoming. Many companies visit Purdue, hold information sessions or participate in job fairs.
  • If you have connections who are already on campus, make time to see them! Go to office hours, meet for lunch or coffee, and maintain a real relationship.
  • Utilize social media platforms. Are you on LinkedIn? If not, set up a profile now. It will make you available to individuals who can be very strong in your network. In addition, you have the opportunity to join groups and receive access to the full profiles of group members.

Informational Interviews

  • You’re not asking for a job; you’re interviewing to glean information and develop your personal network. This ultimately will help you find people who support you, perhaps through mentoring, in this process.
  • Informational interviews are a very non-threatening, inviting prospect for the participant. They will be flattered you want their advice.
  • Don’t ask them to sit down for an hour. Informational interviews should be brief, about 15-30 minutes. A good first step is to invite a contact for coffee.

Take Advantage of Purdue Resources

  • You have convenient access to great resources on campus. Visit the Center for Career Opportunities.
  • This comprehensive career center assists students from their first-year through graduate school.
  • Explore your career direction, polish your resume, practice interviewing and connect with prospective employers.

Effective Communication with Professors

Get A Strong Start

  • Visit a professor’s office hours at the beginning of the semester to form a relationship. Ask for tips on how you can better study for or succeed in this class? Do they have any advice? This helps them know your face right away, even in a mass lecture.
  • Professors are more approachable than you think. If their door is open, they are eager to speak with you and assist you.
  • Ask them about their careers and how they got to where they are now. This can help you formulate your educational and career path. In addition, it shows you respect their input and expertise. You may learn about opportunities, such as scholarships, grants and internships, you weren’t aware of.

Standout In Class

  • Keep off your phone, focus on what the professor is presenting. You will find class much more engaging and enjoyable.
  • Attentiveness shows the professor you truly care about their material and are driven to succeed.
  • They will know your face and will be eager to help you if you have questions.

Know On A Personal Level

  • Ask them about their research, tips or advice.
  • Keep in mind, professors are people too. They have hobbies, passions and interests just like you, and would be happy to have conversations about non-academic subjects too.
  • Ask them to get coffee, visit with them during floor dinners, or attend Torch Tuesday.

Email Appropriately

  • Email is a great way to interact with your professors, but you need to keep that contact professional.
  • Use their appropriate title in your greeting.
  • Be interested in their work. Do a bit of background reading so you understand their research and can ask thoughtful, pertinent questions at an initial meeting with them.

Four Pillars of Good Collaboration

Psychological Safety

  • Groups norms are routines and typical ways of engaging that work for everyone. Some groups like to chat first, some get to business, some get together outside of class. The most important thing is that the group identifies a standard for working together that works for everyone.
  • Research shows that groups with equitable turn taking tend to have higher collective IQs and are more successful overall. This occurs because the group is benefiting from everyone’s unique perspective, knowledge base, and skills. Equitable participation often requires a concerted effort, though, including avoiding practices that might discourage some group members from participating.
  • Embracing low levels of vulnerability can accelerate team bonding, lead to greater comfort and inclusivity, and promote better collaboration.


  • Good active listening involves giving the speaker your full attention, focusing not just on their words but being aware of the whole person. This means paying attention to their body language or their tone of voice to really understand what they are saying and feeling. Good active listeners also ensure that the speaker sees them listening and confirms that they have heard what the speaker has said.
  • Groups should be deliberate in choosing communication styles and strategies that best fit the context or task. Individuals should also take care to be deliberate with their words and make sure their actions, body language, and phrasing is set up in a way to achieve the maximum possible success.
  • Some types of collaboration work best when put in writing or drawn out on a board. Writing out ideas or plans helps ensure shared understanding, allows for accountability, and can make it easier for multiple people to do complex thinking together - like drawing connections between each other’s ideas.

Team Roles and Strengths

  • Groups work best when they take advantage of their members’ individual differences and strengths. Identifying individual roles based on personal interests ensures group members feel valued and stay committed to the group task.
  • Roles are good, but only if they address what the team actually needs. Groups should consider their larger goals and what roles will ensure that those goals are reached in an effective manner. Not all roles should be task oriented, though - some roles should focus on maintaining a healthy group dynamic. Some roles can even be used to mitigate problem behaviors.

Learn more about effective collaboration techniques.

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