Participants Foster a Culture of Challenge and Support
One crucial element which matters for student leadership development and learning is the culture within a program. This culture is one of both challenge and support that is fostered by the program participants themselves. This culture is not always easily visible or structural within the program but it is present and felt by the participants.
Actions. There are two primary actions taken by leadership development programs to enact participants foster a culture of challenge and support. First, participants challenge each other to risk and learn from mistakes, ask difficult questions, and think for themselves all within a safe encouraging atmosphere. Second, practitioners set community standards and encourage participants to be approachable, encouraging, and willing to help fellow participants outside of the program as well as within.
Effects on students. Two major effects on students were discovered when participants foster a culture of challenge and support. First, students develop courage and expand their comfort zone through being challenged and encouraged to risk while supported. Second, students establish trust with self and others through vulnerable honest dialogue focused on their personal growth when confronting important issues.