The Institute for Leadership Studies Continues to Grow


The Institute for Leadership Studies (ILS) was created at KU in the fall of 2015 with the purpose of expanding the academic and research foci on leadership studies, and to provide a collective for drawing together the related research across the KU campus.

It is the mission of the ILS to create capacity for thriving in the face of challenge, conflict, and change. The ILS seeks to do that through innovative curricular and research-based programming. Tasked with expanding the curriculum at KU in leadership studies, the ILS currently offers the Leadership Studies Minor, formerly housed in the Department of Communication Studies. The transition of the Leadership Studies Minor courses from COMS to the ILS — which was effective in the fall 2016 semester — has been a smooth process due to the support of Suzanne Grachek and Dr. Tom Beisecker in COMS, and Dr. Amy Leyerzapf in the ILS. Forthcoming academic programs include an online certificate in Leadership Strategies & Applications, the creation of cross-disciplinary graduate certificates in partnership with other units on campus, and a peer-based mentoring program to support KU’s retention goals. Dr. Amy Leyerzapf in the ILS is also organizing an initiative to showcase research in leadership studies at the statehouse. She has commitments from faculty at other colleges and universities across the state to join together at the capitol in the spring and showcase the importance of higher education across Kansas and to illustrate ways in which Kansans benefit from our research.

ILS engages students across campus and from all disciplines in learning to do the work of leadership by developing a core set of leadership habits and a core set of leadership competencies. Academic programming in the ILS is intentionally designed for students to have opportunities to develop the habits of self-awareness, connecting to purpose, contribution, active reflection, and lifelong learning. And, while the curriculum is closely grounded in the theory of Adaptive Leadership (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz, Glashow & Linsky, 2009), it is further designed to help students develop the capacities of managing self, diagnosing the situation, skillfully intervening, and energizing others.

In addition to the development of leadership studies at KU in general, the ILS is expanding its women and leadership initiative. The ILS Women’s Initiative builds on the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute (KWLI), which brings together each year 20 international women and 6 Kansas women from small/rural communities for a year-long leadership education and development program. The KWLI is funded through grant dollars and support from visionary KU Endowment donors. In addition to the KWLI, the Women’s Initiative is partnering with KU undergraduate students to create a statewide women’s leadership conference to be held at KU in the spring of 2017, developing a women’s leadership graduate certificate, and building a research collective on women’s leadership. As part of that effort, Drs. Banwart and Woszidlo will present outcomes based on longitudinal data collected with the KWLI at NCA in November, and earlier this fall Dr. Banwart was invited to the Harvard Kennedy School’s conference on Adaptive Leadership to present preliminary results of the study.