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.

 

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

PSY 100L: Humans and the Mind

One of the Leadership Advancement Scholarship required courses was Introduction to Psychology. This class was taken as a cohort, which are my personal favorites. On top of the fact that lectures are basically a none stop party, it’s great to have 40 other people to turn to for help. The ability to understand humans and what drives them is a huge part of leadership, as well as constantly seeking to further our knowledge of one another.

Though I enjoy the topic of Psychology, I didn’t particularly like this course. The first thing I learned is that it is extremely difficult to follow a lecture solely recited from a PowerPoint. The subject is so interesting I think my professor should have found a way to make it more engaging. As the semester came to a close, less and less people showed up for lecture because the course we majority self taught. The homework, however, was extremely effective as a study tool. I really liked the online program the course was run under. It had an online textbook, a dictionary for the course, and highlighting tools for the e-book. The homework also gives feedback on both the incorrect and correct responses. Of all the courses I’ve taken this semester I think I’ve retained the most in psychology.

Psychology plays into leadership more than most people might realize. Positive and negative reinforcers are used by leaders to encourage actions from their group members or to inhibit actions. We also have to take each persons sense of identity and personal characteristics like, race, religion, and demographic when leading because all these factors can affect how a person perceives your leadership and how receptive they will be to you. I think it is important for leaders to be knowledgeable in the study of human behavior because leadership in a way goes against that nature. We are all made to be independent beings, with free will and our own thoughts, so being a follower is often times difficult. Understanding the proper way to relate to others and communicate based on psychological theory and behavior is important to the success of any leader.

“Man can alter this life by altering his thinking.” -William James (American Psychologist)

COM 267L: Leadership Protocol Course in Debate

Communications 267L was a cohort class in debate. As leaders of today it is important that we know how to lead effectively and respectfully and part of that is being able to properly communicate our feelings and opinions. To be frank, I really disliked this course. It is not the essence of the course that I had an issue with, because I actually find debating and research to be interesting, it was the execution of the teaching.

I will leave the name of this professor out by calling him K. K was the professor for my specific class and we immediately got off to a rough start. He often times hindered learning by speaking to me and other as if we were unintelligent and was very argumentative in the opposite way you would expect a debate professor to communicate. We didn’t have our first debate until mid November, 12 weeks into the semester, with little background knowledge of debate and how to debate. We were thrown into research we had absolutely no knowledge of and when we asked questions in regards to the debate I often times found myself dosing off because K’s relies were completely irrelevant to the topics and questions and his tone towards his students made me cringe. All tests were open book, open note so I really didn’t learn anything, and even though I’m not planning on majoring in debate, it is extremely frustrating to sit in a class twice a week that you are getting absolutely nothing out of besides constant mocking and disrespect.

If there is anything I learned from the class it was internal. I realized, as my frustration for K increased, I had to learn how to bite my tongue, and understand that though I wish I could tell him exactly how I feel, it would do me no good. I learned how to not let my face reflect my emotions and consider myself slightly more in control of my frustrations. I also was very impressed with my fellow classmates in our ability to not let the debates and varying opinions affect our relationships outside of the class. I believe this shows what true leaders we all are because of our ability to leave class as good of friends as we had entered.