Professional development series in leadership begins Sept. 22; discount available

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 | Written by Greg Tammen


OLATHE — Kansas State University-Olathe's professional development series in leadership returns this fall.

Leadership Program for STEM Professionals is a six-workshop series that covers basic and advanced concepts of self-development, building teams and getting results. Content is tailored to those with careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

"The workshop[s] wasted no time teaching valuable tips to help as I dove into my new role as an organizational development consultant with a large healthcare organization," said Kate Burns, an employee of Stormont Vail Health. "Each course has provided new and valuable knowledge through hands-on activities, role playing and other forms of engagement. The [Critical Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills] has been the most impactful session yet, but it is safe to say that I have used the skills gained through this leadership series every day in both my personal and professional life."

Burns was one of four attendees who completed the 2021-2022 six-part series. Wendy Coates, Stormont Vail Health; Paul Karr, director of engineering programs at K-State Olathe; and Derek Wassom, DARI Motion, also completed the series.

The Leadership for STEM Professionals series starts on Sept. 22 with the workshop Using Strengths and Emotional Intelligence to Maximize Individual and Team Performance. Participants will learn how to maximize performance by using emotional intelligence and personal and team strengths identified by the Clifton Strengthsfinder.

Subsequent workshops are Building and Motivating Effective Teams, Critical Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills, Effectively Engaging Across Cultural and Generational Differences, Evaluating and Improving Team Performance and Developing Strategy to Achieve Results.

Sessions are led by faculty who specialize in the topic they are leading and have practice using the presented skills, techniques and knowledge in past and present workplaces.

Certificates of completion will be awarded at the end of the series.

The series was developed in response to the Mid-America Regional Council's Common Sector Competencies for the Kansas City Region report and to support the region's workforce, which is experiencing rapid change.

In 2021, 48 million workers quit their jobs. Eight months into 2022, more than 4 million more people have quit each month.

To help understand the "Great Resignation," FlexJobs surveyed 2,202 workers — 55% of whom planned to quit or had quit their job in the past six months — about their reasons for leaving. While toxic company culture and low salary ranked as the top reasons, poor management ranked third with 59% citing it.

Poor management also was a top answer in pre-Great Resignation findings from other outlets. The BambooHR Blog cited it as the top reason employees leave. Similarly, a multiyear study by Gallup Inc. about the culture of American workplaces found that more than 80% of employees said their current or former bosses lack critical leadership skills in key areas such as communication and team motivation, which led to half of the surveyed employees quitting their job.

"Most often, what we hear from employees who work in technical fields involving the sciences and mathematics is that while their boss may be a subject matter expert for the area they lead, they fall short in those core competencies that employees say they ultimately need and value," said Lauren Racki, professional development manager at K-State Olathe. "The statistics from these national employee surveys seems to support this. We have found that because of this experience, many up-and-coming young professionals are interested in the content to change the experience of poor leadership in management."

Registration is currently open for the Leadership Program for STEM Professionals. A $500 discount is available to those who register by 5 p.m. on Aug. 31.

To date, nearly 1,700 professionals have attended K-State Olathe's professional development workshops and have given the workshops a 4.58/5 satisfaction rating.

Learn more about Leadership Program for STEM Professionals at