Leadership Resources

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes the work has already been done for you. Drawing from her three decades as a professional educator, Nancy Hunter Denney shares her thoughts, suggestions and advice on a variety of leadership education and skill development.

How to Plan a Leadership Conference

When planning a one-day conference, the following considerations may be useful to your programming. These are guidelines and questions to help you achieve your specific learning objectives.

Available Facilities:

  • Will the audience need to move around? Request space with “move around” flexibility.
How early will set up of the facility be possible? One hour minimum is suggested.
Given changing temperatures, does the facility provide for comfortable participants?
  • Participants will “skip out” if asked to walk between buildings. Try to stay localized.
  • Break out rooms are essential if numbers exceed 50 participants. Plan on 25 per breakout.
Opening and Closing sessions should be in the same location.


  • Be aware of the experiences with previous training and select topics from the appropriate topic levels.
Know in advance the expectations of audience members. What are they thinking they will be doing?
Advertise or communicate accurately the time parameters and expectations of participation.
When training emerging leaders, give participants permission to participate and contribute!
When numbers reach over 50, more facilitators are needed – use a 25 to 1 ratio as a guide.
  • Meet the miscellaneous conference needs with greeters and logistic folks. Use a 25 to 2 ratio as a guide.

Overall Format Options:

Given busy schedules and the “drive thru” expectation timeline instilled in today’s participant, the following conference options are suggested:

OPTION ONE: Audiences over 75 people.

9:30 am – 10 am: Registration with Light Refreshments. Minimally provide coffee and juice!
10 am – 11 am: OPENING SESSION
11:15 am – 12:15 pm: SESSION ONE

Offering 1
Offering 2
Offering 3

12:15 pm – 1 pm: LUNCH – Consider a form of light entertainment.
1 pm – 2 pm: SESSION TWO

Offering 4
Offering 5
Offering 6

2 pm – 2:15 pm: REFRESHMENT BREAK – Cookies and Cold Drinks
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm: SESSION THREE

Offering 7
Offering 8
Offering 9

3:15 pm – 4 pm: CLOSING SESSION
Show closing video or give participation awards.

OPTION TWO: Audience under 50 people.

This format is used best when providing leadership development for a more intimate group. The participants stay together for the entire conference, and in the same room, however – the presenters alternate as the topics change. It is difficult for one educator to “carry” a room for six hours, therefore, mixing up the styles and personalities of presenters is recommended – but, not necessary.

9:45am – 10 am: REGISTRATION and light refreshments.
10 am – noon: OPENING SESSION

Refreshments are provided in the back of the room and someone checks participants in with name tags and folders as they enter the room.

Noon – 1 pm: LUNCH with Assigned Activity

Offer two topics for 45 minutes each.

3 pm – 3:15 pm: Hand out certificates, do raffle and offer light refreshments.


Trying to Decide How to Sequence Your Education and Training Efforts?

There is considerable research in recent years validating the layering approach to leadership education where you build upon fundamental skills and allow for individual progression across levels.

Below are examples of the kinds of programs and themes possible across a three-level approach. The levels include the following and are explained in detail with corresponding programming topics as suggestions:

  • Foundations First
  • Taking it Higher
  • Beyond the Self to the Common Good

Foundations First

Program outlines identified under “Foundations First” are generally intended to be for participants who are new to leadership development and have had relatively few opportunities to assume leadership positions or receive any previous training. These topics also “insert” well into leadership series, courses and one-shot training efforts.

The topics in this category are fundamental tools for all leaders and it is recommended that participants receive exposure to most of the topics in this category to ensure a solid foundation for additional skill building and leadership education.

  • Change: You Want Me to Do What? Change Implementation Strategies
  • Communication Skills: It’s Not What you Say, But How You Say It
  • Communication Skills: Listen Up or Lead Down!
  • Creativity: Step One is to Consider Yourself Creative!
  • Goal Setting: Increasing the Odds of Achievement: How to Establish and Implement Goals
  • Greek Life: P.R. is Everything You Do: Public Relations for the Greek Lead
  • Greek Life: Recruiting Future Chapter Leaders
  • Group Work: Making the Group: Strategies for Effectively Working in Groups
  • Leadership: Zing! Your Life and Leadership: The Opportunity
  • Leadership: Zing! Your Life and Leadership: The Obligation
  • Motivation: Are You Fit to Lead? Self-Energizing Strategies for Student Leaders
  • Promotion and Publicity: Is a Program Successful if No One Comes?
  • Recruitment and Retention: We Want More! Recruitment and Retention for Student Leaders
  • Stress Management: The Mess of Stress
  • Team Building: Beyond a Team of One… How to Play Well with Others!
  • Time Management and Organizational Skills: The Art of Organization and Doing It All

Taking it Higher

Taking it Higher program outlines represent leadership skills or concepts that are best learned and appreciated because participants can identify with their own life experiences or recognize the value and relevancy to their own lives. Participants might also possess previous leadership involvements or work experience where many of the fundamental skills sets and concepts have already been acquired – or, they have participated in earlier leadership development of a related topic. These topics are also best suited for a higher level of maturity and intellectual development.

  • Change: Chaos or Constructive Change? How to Deal Effectively with Officer and Organizational Transition
  • Communication Skills: Believe Me… It’s You! Strategies for Dealing with Difficult People Through Effective Confrontation
  • Communication Skills: Bringing Your Interpersonal Influence to the Surface
  • Communication Skills: Networking and the Art of Conversation
  • Communication Skills: What Language is That? Gender Issues in Communication
  • Delegation: Because You Can! Learning to Delegate
  • Goal Setting: The Role of Vision in Leadership
  • Greek Life: Holding Others to Higher Standards
  • Greek Life: Self-Governing Greek Systems: The Myth and The Reality
  • Greek Life: Tradition, Change and the Future of Fraternities
  • Humor: Laughter, Living and Learning: The Use of Humor in Building Relationships
  • Integrity: The Bar has been Raised: How to Build Personal Integrity
  • Personality Styles: Discovering the Full Color of Your Zing!™ Leadership Personality
  • Public Speaking: Say IT with Style and Substance: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
  • Relationship Building: Building Relationships that Work!
  • Self-Esteem: The Mirror Has Two Faces: How to Build Your Self-Esteem
  • Team Building: Staff Synergy: To Be or Not to Be?

Beyond Self to the Common Good

The outcome of any leadership education effort is to make the world a better place, to use one’s aptitudes to demonstrate their gratitude and to serve the common good. Leadership programming designed to develop skills and perspectives of the world also needs to be intentional in articulating a vision of “common good.” Programs in this category move the participant from their own direct skill development to that of reaching and serving others. It is recommended these programs are towards the end of a series or build upon previous levels.

  • Advisor Training: Advising for Success: Strategies for Empowerment
  • Community Building: Community Begins with See!
  • Customer Service: Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed! Looking Good by Knowing Bad!
  • Diversity Appreciation: Defining Diversity Differently
  • Leadership: Zing! Your Life and Leadership (General Overview)
  • Motivation: The Art of Inspiring Others to Do Great Things
  • Motivation: You Make a Difference! How to Recognize and Reward Difference Makers
  • Orientation Leaders: The Role of the OL… It’s a TOOTSIE!
  • Respect: The Rules of Respect and Civility
  • Supervision: Supervising for Success: Strategies of Empowerment