Leadership in Communication

In a full circle back to last years LDR 200, my LAS class took a communications class focused solely on how it interacts with leadership. I have to say, I have lost the meaning of “leadership”. It’s like if you eat the same food for a week long, you end up hating the food; thats how I feel about leadership. I came into college thinking leader was the best thing to aspire to. Realistically, it is an undefinable word that no one can really give you or anyone else. I will say, this class has many important lessons regardless on a leadership position; communication is key of course.

I believe communication in the work place is one of the most important lessons from this class. We really broke down the dynamics of work place involvement and mutual respect. We discussed dealing with conflict, be an appropriate follower, and addressing when to take advantage of your personal leadership in a hierarchy. I have never been in a super professional work place, but I know I have some traits that could get me in trouble in a follower position. I do like evaluating my personality in classes like this.

The problem with “leadership in communication” is we can never stop communicating; but through all my leadership courses, it seems as if you can never stop being a leader either, which is exhausting to think about. In addition to that, those who aren’t leaders still communicate, so yes you have communication in leadership, but you don’t have to have leadership to communicate. These connections are what make it so difficult to define both terms across a broad board and for different groups of people.

LDR 200L Reflection

When you hear that you are required to take a 3 hour lecture course, most people wouldn’t be thrilled, even if it is your favorite topic in the world. So naturally, I assumed Leadership 200L would be long and tiresome. But what could be better than taking the longest class of your life with all your best friends who happen to also be smart, caring, and motivated….nothing really.

Leadership 200 was very different than leadership 100; first, it went from being a “for credit” to 3 credit hours, aka, a lot more work. And, we were already very much acquainted  by second semester, unlike LDR 100. We got into more depth on the philosophical, and theoretical aspects of leadership. I had never really taken much thought to the idea that leadership was study-able, because it was just a natural reaction for me.

I personally presented on the theory of Servant Leadership.  I personally enjoyed this theory as it related to our service project LAS in the D, which I have previously blogged about.  It was one of the theories that I felt to be the most personal. I can honestly say that after researching the theory, I wouldn’t consider myself a servant leader. Yes, I volunteer way more than the average person and I don my part to take care of others, however, I can’t say I possess all the characteristics that make a servant leader. One thing I know about myself is I am very considerate and very empathetic. Many people don’t see that in me. I realized that even though I know how I’m feeling on the inside, I need others to see it on the outside as well. Until I figure out how to expose myself to my followers, I can’t succeed as a servant leader.

I appreciate this class mainly for the internal struggle it forced me to address. I think I am leaving the class with more tools to be a better person and better leader.

 

Fred Factor Reflection

Our LDR100 is currently working on an innovation project on “How to be a Fred”. Fred is a real life mailman the author and public speaker, Mark Sanborn, says changed his life. He later wrote a book about Fred that outlined the principles that mailman Fred taught him by simply delivering his mail; this book is called The Fred Factor. In groups of 7-8 LASers, we were challenged to create a unique way to be a “Fred” for ourselves and for others.

The Fred Principles:

  1. Everyone Makes A Difference
    1. “Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional.”
  2. Success Is Built On Relationships:
    1. “…the quality of the relationship determines the the quality of the product or service.”
  3. You Must Constantly Create Value For Others, And It Doesn’t Have To Cost A Penny:
    1. “The truth is that we compete against our own potential every day.”
  4. You Can Reinvent Yourself Regularly:
    1. “You can make your business, as well as your life, anything you choose it to be.”

For our project, we based our idea off of a Youtube video about gratitude. This video states that it can be scientifically proven that people who show more gratitude are overall happier people. They also performed an experiment:

 The Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude

We wanted to focus more on how the people we reach out to can change their important people’s lives, instead of us being the Fred and changing theirs. We are just offering them a new perspective. We stopped kids walking to class around campus. We asked them to pick the one person that is the most influential in their life or someone they really appreciate. We then asked them to write down 5 things they are thankful for or admire about there person. After that, we asked them to call their significant person. Though we couldn’t scientifically prove that they felt more happiness after expressing gratitude, you could visually tell they felt good about it.

Our Fred Factor Effects:

Principle 1- Everyone Can Make A Difference: Though it was something small, they made that person’s day a little better by showing gratitude and appreciation.

Principle 2- Success Is Based On Relationships: Their relationship was positively improved by simply calling and thanking their important person. Whether they called a parent, a friend, teacher, or sibling, that relationship will be better because they now know how important they are to each other and are happier because of it.

Principle 3: You Must Constantly Create Value For Others:The value that they placed on the person they felt gratitude for created value for that person in regards to themselves. Sometimes everyone needs a confidence boost and receiving appreciation from someone you care about it a great feeling. They both now also have an increase in value towards showing gratitude as well as happiness.

Principle 4: You Can Reinvent Yourself Regularly: These people reinvented themselves the second they made the call. They are sharing appreciation and happiness that they may not have though to give had we not inspired them. They can also continue to reinvent themselves by continuing to make those calls, and the people they called have the opportunity too.

This is our video of people showing gratitude @ CMU and the happiness they feel because of it:

Fred Factor: Gratitude Project

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

As an LAS tradition, each year the Sophomore mentors and Freshman mentees travel to Eagle Village in Hersey, Michigan. This trip was meant to unite the 2014 and 2015 cohorts as well as allow the mentor/mentee couples to get to know each other and enjoy a fun weekend. The first activity we were almost immediately thrown into an indoor ropes course. I normally don’t shy away from challenges or heights, but once I ascended the ladder and stepped onto the first platform, I lost all my confidence. Luckily I had my mentor, Emma, right behind me to cheer me on. One of the first elements we encountered was wobbly, wood beam ladder. Emma went first and I followed. One of the facilitators challenged us to do it again but while only holding onto each others hands. Though we were hesitant, we decided to try it. It was honestly one of the scariest things I’ve ever attempted, but also extremely satisfying when we successfully completed it. It is these moments that make the mentor/mentee retreat to valuable. We made a connection on that course by only having each other to rely on.

Me and my mentor bonding at Eagle Village!

Me and my mentor bonding at Eagle Village!

Besides encouraging each other, we also encouraged other mentor/mentee pairs to complete obstacles as well. My roommates mentor, Natalie, was extremely terrified during the whole experience so at one point Emma and I stopped to coach/cheer her on past her obstacle. The amazing thing, watching Riley and Natalie complete the course, was Riley’s strength through the obstacles challenged Natalie to complete them as well. I think Natalie gained a lot by relying on her mentee, even though we assume it should be the other way around. This moment truly shows the power of friendship, leadership, and the impact the LAS program has.

Looking forward to the time when I return to Eagle Village with my own mentee, I hope we share the bonding experience Emma and I did. I hope she feels she can lean on me as much I as can lean on her. I not only want my mentee to feel connected to me, but connected to their cohort as well as mine. College is a wild experience and having 80+ people you know will always have your back is an amazing feelings, a feeling I hope they realize while on this retreat.