Event challenges student’s leadership capabilities.

Jensen Moore Washburn Review

For the third consecutive year in a row Washburn University Leadership Institute will host an The Leadership Challenge Event. The occasion is designed to test participants with a competition that simulates real life management situations.

There will be 28 participating teams this year, which is up from 19 in 2012 and 15 from 2011. These teams are comprised of 20 high school teams and college or university teams from Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

The event itself is made possible due to the help from over 100 volunteers that represent organizations on campus and in the community. This is in addition to the members of the Leadership Institute who have also been working attentively on the event, such as Amanda Sorrell.

“Kristen Onions is the Leadership Challenge Event student director and has been coordinating this event for the past 11 months,” said Sorrell. “Other boards and leadership teams in Topeka will also be joining the competition this year.”

Jeff Mott, director of the WU Leadership Institute, explains that there are three main objectives to the event: (1), “[To] provide a significant leadership experience for our own WU students – to have them design, develop and implement and significant event. (2) [To] produce greater visibility of Topeka, Washburn University, and the Leadership Institute. (3) [To] create a unifying event for Leadership Institute, the Topeka community and the WU campus.”

This competition is intended to for students who are interested in high school or college leadership events and wish to develop their leadership abilities. These participants will be involved in a tested simulation that includes individual work, team collaboration, role playing exercises with members of the community playing fictitious roles, and more.

In the presentation, “Washburn University Leadership Challenge Event” made by the previous student director of the Leadership Institute, Shea Bishop, at prezi.com, the competition deals with real-life issues. Each year a theme is chosen for the event in order for students to act as a team to represent the organizations that would be involved in making leadership decisions in such an incident.

For example, in 2012 the theme was “Embezzlement and Fraud.” Each team represented each of the directors of the board of the Central Kansas Community Foundation. 

“Students were challenged to think creatively, adapt to the situation, and lead their team to success,” said Kishop. “This gave them a taste of the real-world.”

The Leadership Challenge Event is considered to be a rare experience for students. This is because a competitive simulation such as this has not been used in a institute for learning before.

“We have researched extensively and found nothing else like it anywhere,” said Mott. “While simulations are used commonly for learning environments, we have never seen it used for a competition among schools.”

According to Mott, there is more to be taken away from the experience than the leadership development.

“Hopefully students feel they will grow not only in leadership ability, but with self-confidence, analytical skills, communication skills, and much more,” said Mott.

This event is being held on Washburn Campus March 7-8. For more information, email questions to the Leadership Institute at

[email protected] or give them a call, 670.2000.