In order to receive a leadership minor at CMU, students must take a class called LDR200: Introduction to Leadership. As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, you get to take it with your cohort and the curriculum is a little bit different from that of a normal LDR200 class.
LDR200L focuses on leadership style and theory. In this course, you learn a lot about who you are as a person and a leader, and how that fits into certain leadership theories. Going into LDR200 I did not know what we would be doing because how much is there really to learn about leadership? I thought that leadership was something that everyone has and it just gets stronger and more defined as you take on more and more experience. While I still believe this to be true, I’ve learned that it is just as important to know how you work and how that may affect others around you. Knowing what kind of leader I am and how followers work with me best is just as important as having experience working with those followers.
My favorite part of this course was the day that we watched the TedTalk: Start With Why. I loved this class session because I think it reached more than just my leadership skills, but because it has had an affect on a lot of decisions I have made since this workshop. Start With Why discusses your why statement and the reason for what you do. It talks about your drive and why you do what you do. Everyone’s why statement is a little different but ultimately says why they do what they do. What do you want as a leader and a person and how does that play into the career you have and life you live. My why statement is to “Inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them happiest”. Ever since going through this workshop and digging deeper into the meaning of why I do what I do, I find myself looking for this in the decisions I make and what I preach to other people. When I make an important decision (like change my major ha ha.. ha……) I ask myself why I want to make the decision I do. Does it follow my why statement? Am I going to get the outcome that I want and will I have the positive effect on others that I desire. I also find myself teaching others about my why statement and truly putting it into action in my daily life.
Another LDR200L requirement was to go on a service trip to Detroit called LAS in the D. During this service trip, I could not stop thinking about my why statement. I had this moment at the beginning of the trip while at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy where I realized I was literally preaching my why statement to these high school students. Let me clarify in saying that I wasn’t being annoying and telling them all about me, I just found myself trying to make the students see the positive side of things and find joy in what they are doing. During debrief I was talking about how they were so positive and that is so important in being a leader. A leader needs to be encouraging and positive and happy and make their followers WANT to follow them. I reminded them that had they just been negative and just hated the activities that were really difficult from the beginning, there’s no way they would have done as well as they did and had fun with it.
During this moment I just found all of these things that we had been talking about and learning coming together. I really saw myself be the leader I want to be which was the most motivating, rewarding, and damn-near coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. LDR200 for me was really and truly the opening of leadership for me. I have always known I am a leader and what the general definition of leadership is, but I never actually saw the smaller more detailed picture of leadership. I never knew that all leaders are different. I never knew that there are different ways to lead and none of them are really better than the others, it’s just what works for you. I really never knew that there were different theories to leadership and how they can affect the ways that you learn, teach, and practice leadership. LDR200L was truly just an eye-opening experience and changed me as a leader.
From this, I just hope to be more aware of my own leadership. I would say I’d like to share this with other people and followers, but I don’t think I am at that point yet. The best way to sum up this class is that I now know enough about leadership to know I pretty much know nothing. I know I am a leader and I am a pretty good one at that, but there is so so much more to this that I don’t know and I want to become more educated and aware of my own leadership. I want to self-reflect after any kind of leadership role and see what kind of leadership style I practiced, if my why statement was a main drive for this, and how well my followers reacted to my leadership.