Teaming Up for Lessons of Leadership

As a key member of Franklin & Marshall’s 2013 Centennial Conference champion and NCAA quarterfinalist men’s soccer team, Chase TenBrook ’16 is not easily flustered. But cover the floor with mousetraps and insert a blindfold into the equation, and even he gets a bit uneasy.

That’s the precise situation in which TenBrook and 23 other F&M sophomores found themselves recently at Lancaster’s Spooky Nook Sports complex, where they were guiding each other through a maze of traps during a team-building exercise.

“It was a very nerve-wracking experience,” TenBrook says. “But it was interesting to see the leadership techniques each group used to its advantage. One group had a clapping technique, while others had verbal commands dealing with foot placement. It showed me that leadership is a high-risk, high-reward situation. Everyone has different approaches to leadership. There is no cookie-cutter image of a leader.”

The trip to Spooky Nook was part of the College’s Harwood Leadership Seminar, a program introduced in 2012 for F&M sophomores and made possible by a gift from F&M Trustee Brett Harwood ’71. The students—12 varsity athletes and 12 non-athletes—participated in a series of workshops throughout the 2013-14 academic year, exploring dimensions of leadership such as building a team, self-discipline, accountability and resilience. More than 100 students applied for this year’s program, which was designed and facilitated by athletic coaches and professional staff members of the Office of the Dean of the College.

F&M Trustee Brett Harwood ’71 meets students participating in the leadership seminar he created.

F&M Trustee Brett Harwood ’71 meets students participating in the leadership seminar he created.

The program arose out of Harwood’s observation during his years in business that athletes have distinctive leadership and teamwork abilities. Principal and co-founder of Harwood Properties LLC, Welcome Parking LLC, and the Parking Advisory Group LLC, Harwood got the idea for the program after a conversation with F&M alumnus and former lacrosse player Jake Gladstone ’10, a financial analyst.

“In my meeting with Jake, he gave me sound financial advice. I realized it took me a while to learn some of the things he learned as a college athlete,” says Harwood, who worked with former Dean of the College Kent Trachte to start the program. “He already had experience with winning, losing, resilience and building a team.”

Beth Throne, F&M’s associate vice president for student and post-graduate development and a former attorney, says the Harwood program helps students develop the qualities employers want to see in the job market. “This is an example of the value of a broad liberal arts education,” Throne says. “Students are developing the ability to work in teams, persevere and lead—exactly the kinds of things that will help them in their careers and their lives.”

This year’s Harwood participants say the workshops helped them develop a variety of skills, from collaboration to communication to teamwork. A two-day leadership course at Gettysburg Battlefield was a highlight for many students.

“The Gettysburg trip was the most memorable part of the program,” says Kabir Hossain ’16, who credits the seminar for helping him become more assertive. “I learned a lot about the Civil War, and how the leadership differed on both sides.”

Asfiyan Amin ’16 recalls surveying different spots on the battlefield and examining the strategies employed by the Union and Confederate forces. “Having that context was integral in cementing the different leadership qualities we discussed afterward,” he says.

At Spooky Nook, mousetraps weren’t the only obstacles the students had to navigate. Hannah Rose Nussbaum ’16, a member of the women’s basketball team, credits a rock-climbing exercise for part of her leadership development. “We had to trust each other because we were holding each other up in case we slipped,” Nussbaum said, adding that between rock climbing and the mousetrap exercise, “I learned so many things that day about communication, and not being closed-minded.”

The Harwood Leadership seminar taught Ashley Christopherson ’16 that there is no such thing as one version of a leader. “I’m a pretty reserved, quiet person,” she said. “Realizing how different everyone is encouraged me to be myself, be confident and not try to conform to being a certain type of leader.”


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