Theory Application: My Freshman Year of College

My leadership style has definitely changed since being in college, because I’ve been exposed to other styles and people. I have become more conscious of myself as a leader and think for the first time I’ve begun to identify how I can get better. In my leadership philosophy paper I tried to emphasize  the things I can already do and the also thing things I want to be able to do. It is really hard to look at yourself and be judgmental, but I think it is the only way I will get better as a leader, as well as a person.

The one experience I’ve had thus far in college with a leadership theory was my first group project in Business 100. We didn’t get to pick our groups, so it was my first experience truly working with people I didn’t know. I became the team leader, not even because I volunteered, but no one else wanted to. I have a very direct leadership style, similarly to the ideas discussed in Path-Goal theory. I know this often comes off as bossy and brass to people, so I consciously made an effort to ease into the group project and assess my group members before choosing which leadership path I was going to make. I also lack patience in many situations and expect perfection; perfection is different for everyone so I had to accept that someone else’s hard work may not be to my standard and I would have to roll with what I had.

Specifically how I applied this theory was in regards to my group members business ability. I felt like I was answering a lot of dumb questions regarding research, work ethic, and comprehension so I had to make sure my reaction to these questions was appropriate for the situation. When I was growing more and more frustrated I had to look internally and decide what type of leader I wanted to be. At that point, the needs of the group and the project required something different than what I wanted to give, therefore I had to choose to be a responsible, respectful leader instead of reacting in a way I personally wanted to. Leadership is definitely learning to put your emotions aside for the greater good of your followers. I think learning about leadership theories has made me see ways in which I can improve and grow and I look forward to seeing my growth over the next few years.

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.

 

Spark Leadership Reflection

As I’m sure many of my fellow leadership kids would agree, leadership camps have gotten a little boring. Many of us anticipated hating Spark because we didn’t think there was much more we could learn or experience. I was pleasantly surprised by my time at Spark Leadership Series.

I really enjoyed getting to know the members of Team Involvement! I think that’s what made Spark a better experience for me personally, because I actually felt a connection with the people I participated with. During Leadership Safari, we all just went through the motions and never established relationships, and to this day me and my group members don’t talk when we see each other. Since Spark I’ve seen and talked to multiple team members and feel like I even made a new friend.

I also feel like I learned something related to leadership that I can apply to my future experiences. Doing the leadership styles assessment was very enlightening to me because I received a result I wasn’t expecting. My primary leadership style was Systematic; that result wasn’t so much surprising as was the style I didn’t get. I really believed I was going to get direct leadership. I’m a very straight forward person, some may use the word direct, when it comes to projects, event planning, etc. But in reflection, I think that mentality comes from my need for organization. I was also surprised that before i received direct, I got spirited leadership! I am the most mellow, unenthusiastic person I know, so to be so wrong on my idea of leadership was definitely surprising. It gave me a new perspective on leadership though; I clearly have the power to be spirited when I need to be.

I would definitely suggest this program to others, because I really enjoyed my time. Though it did overlap with a class and interrupted my dinner time, I looked forward to going each week and think it’s a great concept. And I even played a few games I never had before!!

Structure built by random household objects to support a 16oz can of Pepsi: Mission accomplished

Structure built by random household objects to support a 16oz can of Pepsi: Mission accomplished

Leadership: Yes or No?

Does leadership come from a yes or no? I was so confused as to what this question was asking me, that I waited so long before I decided to identify the answer. I think most people would tell you there is no answer; it is all up to interpretation. I don’t think leadership is a yes or a no, because your ability to answer with both is the most valuable piece of leadership you could have.

As leaders, we are inclined to say yes to everything. We like having a hand in on everything and most of us enjoy staying busy. It’s that kind of attitude that makes leadership a yes. There are also those YES! leaders who are spirited and open-minded to all possibilities of an idea, project, or movement; some people are better at yes leadership than others in this respect. I think leadership can be just as important from a no. Sometimes, the hardest thing you will ever do will simply be saying no. No to the alcoholic drink your friends are pressuring you to down, no to condoning bullying, no to procrastinating your deadline for a project. Our drive and integrity as leaders is just as strong and important when saying yes as it is when saying no.

Honestly, it takes a strong individual, leader or not, to say no, especially to the scenarios I stated earlier. But, I think that’s why “No” leadership is important; anyone can say yes or no, but a leader knows when it’s appropriate to say yes or to say no, and recognizes that the choice defines you, as well as it defines the people who choose to follow you.

“A leader is one that knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

John C. Maxwell once said this and I think it summarizes my point. A leader knows the way; they know right from wrong, yes or no. They follow the path they know, by living by the ideals and values their yes or no presents. Finally, they show the way. By saying yes to the good and no to the bad, a leader is inspiring others to make the responsible choice. Being a leader often means making tough decisions and your ability to say no is definitely a defining characteristic.

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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

Leadership Safari

2015 Leadership Safari

Leadership Safari is every CMU freshman’s dream. You get to move in early, roam around campus, and basically be independent from parents and responsibility for a whole week. I personally didn’t have the great safari experience I was told would have, though I did appreciate some of the events and also made a good friend.

Move in day went great! I got all settled in, met my roommates, met the neighbors, and was ready for safari to begin. Each year, Leadership Safari gets bigger and bigger each year and this year they had record breaking numbers. 2500 college freshman were coming to CMU for safari. I don’t think I had seen 2500 people at one time until I got here. I give credit to the facilitators of this event because I was unaware that most of the animals they used even existed. Some of them were even hard to pronounce! Throughout the week, they kept us busy with dance music; if I hadn’t already known all the words to “The Wobble” I definitely would have after the week of hearing it 6 times a day. *Please expand the playlist for next years participates for the sake of their sanity*

I was on team Polar Bear, and it was in this team I met my now good friend, Jessika. We immediately clicked because of our laid back, sarcastic humor. I give her most of the credit in helping me survive the long week that was Leadership Safari. My team really didn’t bond like I saw many of the other groups, so having Jessika to lean on was a God sent. My safari leader wasn’t the typical rainbows and sunshine you picture being at safari. Most of the week we sat around during down time because no one really wanted to play the pointless games he was required to suggest. Though we didn’t click on a real personal level, we were able to share some laughs. This particularly stood out to me because of how different we all were. But I guess that is the point, accepting others as they are and adapting to the awkward moments we are involuntarily thrown into. Leadership!! Besides Jessika I haven’t spoken to any of my group member since safari. I will wave or smile if I pass them on my way to class but that’s about it. My safari leader even avoids eye contact with me when I run into him.

Though everyone tells you how fun Leadership Safari is, they don’t tell you how exhausted you are going to be during and afterwards. Early mornings and late nights for five days definitely gives you a taste of the college life. They have you busy from sun up to sun down listening to speakers, doing team building activities, etc. I was slightly disappointed in the facilitation of the events, however. We were often times sitting around for hours on end with nothing to do after an event was let out early or if we were waiting for lunch. It was also extremely cold during safari and they didn’t have the proper accommodations for everyone, so we were forced to sit outside in the wind, rain, and cold. And because we are new college students they wanted to “keep us busy” for as long as possible to limit the amount of time we had to get into trouble. Because of this, I personally, and multiple other people, felt babied, not treated like adults, but as risky teenagers.

My favorite part of Leadership Safari was the acapella group on night one and the slam poets on the last night. This generation is that of acapella given the break out of the Pitch Perfect movies. It was super relevant and extremely entertaining. I was very impressed with all the entertainments acts provided at 2015 safari and would definitely suggest some returns. The Asia Project, one of the slam poetry acts, actually made me cry. Because I’m horrible at poetry I have a great respect for their craft first of all, and utter disbelief in the power of their craft and their words. As a future leader, I hope I have the power to affect people the way their 45 minute act affected me. Along, with these performers, there were also many speakers that had great messages. One man gave me a blow pop and told me to give it to the person I value most and appreciate without telling them why. Though my sucker didn’t make it to my person, it prompted me to tell her what she meant to me and that’s actually one of the nicest things you can do for someone, I learned.

A few major issues I had with Leadership Safari was the topic of a lot of the speakers. Many talked about sex and relationships and I don’t see the relevance to leadership. It was very frustrating to me because I couldn’t relate and it often became a joke to many of the participants, obviously, because what 18 year old doesn’t laugh at sex jokes, distracting from the message. Another problem I had was with safari was the volunteering activity. I take great pride in volunteering and was extremely offended by the effort put into this part of the week. We packed meals for the less fortunate in assembly line style. We spent more time learning how to package the food than we did actually doing it. I was in there for probably 5 minutes before I was corralled out. Many participates didn’t even get the opportunity. I would have preferred to spend my whole day doing the volunteering instead of the pointless games I was forced to play afterward. I think the safari coordinators need to revaluate what their message for the week is and how they plan to format leadership safari to fulfill that message.