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Businesses Seek to Strengthen Internal Leadership through Widener's Oskin Leadership Institute

How can you develop more agility in the leadership of your business? That’s the question asked by Chester Water Authority, and they reached out to the Oskin Leadership Institute at Widener University for the answer.

Oskin Leadership InstituteA group comprised of managers and non-managers at the Chester Water Authority are currently enrolled in a customized, six-month leadership development program through the Oskin Leadership Institute. One day a month, the group attends leadership training at Widener on topics including leveraging your strengths, the characteristics of high-performing teams, courage/risk taking and creating positive energy.

The sessions are free-flowing, encouraging Chester Water Authority managers to share their thoughts on what works – and what doesn’t work – from a leadership perspective. The institute’s staff facilitates a discussion to help them determine what they can do to enhance the leadership culture at the authority and make it more agile.

“The Chester Water Authority’s core principles are quality, service and value,” said Michael D’Agostino, manager of the human resources group at the Chester Water Authority. “The Oskin Leadership Institute provides dynamic programming that supports the authority’s core principles. The workshops are insightful and fun, as a result we are growing as leaders.”

The institute launched its executive leadership development program with Pacific Millennium Paper and Packaging Corp of Shanghai, China in 2012. Since then, the global company has sent a dozen managers to Widener twice a year for leadership training, according to Michael Xu, chief of human resources for Pacific Millennium.

“Every one of them has been inspired to bring the concepts of leading self, leading others and leading change back to our organization,” Xu said. “Their participation at the Oskin Institute has energized our workforce.”

In addition to the Chester Water Authority and Pacific Millennium, the Oskin Leadership Institute has developed customized training programs for Aetna Insurance, TD Bank and UPS.

Jon Peterson serves as director of the institute’s executive leadership program. His higher education experience includes teaching leadership at Widener and Princeton Universities. His personal leadership experience includes 25 years as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot and combat veteran. He said the institute’s leadership programs are built on the premise that each company or organization has a unique culture, and understanding that culture is important to the success of the training program.

“What we offer is not one size fits all,” Peterson said. “We customize our content to the culture and needs of an organization and use best practices based on current research. The feedback we’ve received is that the training has been very effective in helping to develop the kind of leadership skills these companies are looking for.”