Leadership Education

Wait, You Can Learn Leadership?? LDR200L

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.

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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 stateldr22ment 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.

Leadership Education

HST110: Leaders in American History

As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, it is apart of my protocol to take classes made specifically for leadership students which focus on the adding leadership content into a university class. As my freshman year is beginning to come to a close, I am finishing up a few of these leadership courses. One of the courses that we were required to take second semester as a freshman year is HST110WIL; American Experience.

This class focuses on history in America and specifically the different leaders that made a difference in America. This was a really cool experience because you really got to see the different ways that people were leaders. When you think of leaders in America, I think most peoples mind would jump to presidents; Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and many more. What this class really made so much more obvious to me is that there are so many more leaders in America than just presidents. I always knew this but this class made it so obvious; you do not have to be the president of something to be a leader within that group. This was my main take away from this class.

Don’t get me wrong, the president is important; they are the president for a reason. HST110 just helped me apply the idea that everyone is a leader, and that you can be a leader under the power of someone who is in higher position than you as well. I have always known this but being able to see real life examples of people who aren’t labeled ‘The President of The United States of America’ that make just as big, if not bigger, impacts on this country.

Sojourner TruthAs stated before, this was a writing intensive class (fun, I know). Our major papers were based on leaders in American History. We were asked to read a book about  a famous American Leader and write a paper that tells about what they did, why it was important, and what kinds of results there were from your leaders actions. The two people that I chose to write about were Sojourner Truth and Ruby Bridges. I found this to be beneficial because again you could see more specifically that leaders don’t all have the title, they don’t always look like the stereotypical leader, and they don’t always have it easy. Sojourner Truth and Ruby Bridges were both leaders in America at a time when many American’s didn’t even view them as humans. These reports emphasized a few things for me:

  1. It takes one drop of water to start a flood
  2. Not everyone will always agree with you
  3. Things may not go always go your way; that doesn’t mean you should stop
  4. Once you meet reach your goals, make bigger ones

Outside of all of the amazing knowledge of American History that I absolutely love learning about *sarcasm*, these four things are the major ideas that I have taken away. I hope that as a leader, when I am stuck in a situation that I don’t feel like a leader, where I don’t have anyone following me, things aren’t going more way, or I just feel like I’ve ‘done enough’ I hope that I think back to these four things that I have learned throughout this class. I also hope to share these ideas and leaders that I have studied with others so that they may take away their own perspective and inspiration from leaders in America.

The Ruby Bridges Story – Canon 7D from Andy Gallacher on Vimeo.

Community, Leadership Development, Leadership Training

Special Olympics LEAD Team

As a special education major, you can assume that I am obsessed with Special Olympics. Special Olympics is a way for people with disabilities to be active and have fun in a setting that focuses on them and their personal achievements. Ever since my freshman year of high school I have been volunteering with Special Olympics. I’ve always known that there are events and games that I still have not yet experienced but what I didn’t know is that there were more opportunities for these students than just on the track, in the pool, on the slopes, or in the bowling alley.

As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, we are asked to join a LEAD Team through the Leadership Institute. We are given many options of which teams we would like to join based on what each teams focus is and what you are interested in. OBVIOUSLY when I was told that Special Olympics was one of the options that we had, I had my heart set on it. When people asked me what I put down as my choices as we had to choose three in case some filled up, I told them Special Olympics. When they said “what about the other two”, I literally said “I don’t know I just really want Special Olympics”. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing I could have done but truly I just have such a passion for this organization.

What I didn’t know about the Special Olympics LEAD Team was…well, pretty much everything. When I was told that I got the Special Olympics LEAD Team I was ecstatic. Then I realized I didn’t even know what we would be doing. I assumed we would be volunteering at the Special Olympics events and just helping out with whatever they needed. I was wrong and as much as I would have loved doing all of those things, I’m happy that I was wrong because it opened me up to so many new things.

The Special Olympics LEAD Team was focused on putting on a Leadership Conference for both students with and without disabilities. HOW SMART AND AWESOME IS THIS??? I would have never thought that Special Olympics would put on an event like this. I thought Special Olympics just hosted sporting events and competitions but I was so wrong and I was amazed by this.

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Sometimes I forget that not everyone sees themselves as leaders because I see everyone else in that way. Having a conference to show these students that they are leaders regardless of any restrictions that they may have is so important. These students have the ability to make such a difference in their communities and the lives around them but they need people to teach them what that looks like, how they can do that, and to simply encourage them and show them that they are capable of this and that is what this leadership conference is all about. The students went through several activities, lectures and sessions that taught them about different aspects of leadership and how it only takes one person to make a change.

My role in this conference was to be a guide during the day. I had a group of students that my partner and I were responsible for during the day. We would walk them to and from each session and help facilitate during their activities. The most important part of our job as guides was to encourage them and help them take away what they were supposed to from each session. Making sure that they were having fun and understood the purpose of each activity and how it applied to them in their communities and schools was vital to this conference being a success.

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What I took away from this was just as important as what the students took away. First of all I got so many new experiences through this lead team. I have worked with students with disabilities and without disabilities in so many different environments but never in one like this. Gaining this experience of facilitating and managing groups of students in this atmosphere was so new and exciting for me. It also reminded me that EVERYONE needs reminders that they have the power to do the things that they want to. Society can put stereotypes on people and groups and even the people that fall under these stereotypes and groups forget that the limitations put on them are false.. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what circumstances you have, you can make as big or little of a difference that you want. I grew up just knowing this but not everyone has that. This conference reminded me that everyone has those abilities but some people need reminders of that. As a leader in society and an advocate for those specifically with special needs it is my job to be the person to give them those reminders and the tools to be the best that they can.

This conference is so important and just shows that Special Olympics will never fail to amaze. From this conference I now know what kinds of things people should know about leadership and that there truly are no limitations for anyone who wants to be a leader. This was such an important experience as a future educator specifically for students with special needs and I can’t wait to continue instilling these ideas and experiences in the students and advocates of special education around me.

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Leadership Development, Leadership Education

Leaders Connecting With Leaders

I think most people demonstrate leadership daily whether we realize it or not. Everyone takes lead at some point in society. Whether it is a mother raising her children or a father going to work to support his family, these are acts of leadership. The difference between people who realize they are leaders and people who do not see themselves as leaders makes a world of difference in the lives surrounding those people. For people who know that they are leaders, I think we can all agree that there is no moment where you realize this; it just happens.

For me, I always knew that I was a leader. I had always found myself stepping up and leading even when I was younger and I had grown up being told that I am a leader. I did however have a day when I realized that this actually makes a difference in the people that you surround. Even if you aren’t changing someones life, just being in the presence of a natural leader can change the atmosphere. I realized this the day that I listened to the 2016 Central Michigan girls soccer team speak to our Introduction to Leadership class.

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The captains of the girls soccer team came in to speak with us and automatically I connected with them. I was a captain of my high school soccer team. The difference between my soccer team and theirs was that theirs was very successful. The CMU girls team had a very good record and they owed their success in part to their captains for their leadership. My soccer team in high school was growing and very young so we weren’t as successful on the score board. I was however also a captain of my volleyball team in high school which was very successful in making it to the state semi-finals for two years. I could connect with them in this aspect as I had been on a team that really and truly didn’t need my skills on the court as much as my leadership abilities. I saw both aspects of the spectrum.

The captains of the soccer team said that in their role, they didn’t need to be controlling on the field; that’s not what the team needed. What the team needed was someone to create and maintain a positive atmosphere and relationships with each other. The captains told us that this was their biggest job, not to control the field. I found myself thinking back to my volleyball team where this was also my role. My team did not need me to tell them what to do, they needed me to encourage them and maintain a positive environment.

soccerI then began thinking to my soccer team in high school. When reflecting back, I did not see myself doing that as much as trying to help the team learn more about the game. At the time, I saw my role as making sure everyone knew what their job on the field was. Almost like a coach on the field. While I don’t think that the role I took on on this team was wrong because each team is different and needs different things from their leaders, I think that listening to the captains speak reminded me that their is also more than just a score board.

I think I did a very good job on my volleyball team as my role as captain. I gave my team the things that they needed to be successful. As a captain of my soccer team, I probably could have done more. It was important for me to help my younger teammates as much as I could on the field but I think I forgot to keep the positive fun environment. It is important as a leader to stay focused on the task at hand, but if you aren’t creating a positive atmosphere that makes people want to reach those goals then your goals become even further away from you.

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What I took away from the soccer team captains speaking is that it is important as a leader to evaluate the group/team in which you are working with and what they need from you as their leader. Sometimes people need you to just encourage and that’s it. Sometimes people need you to direct them and tell them exactly what to do and when. But a lot of the time, people need both. People need direction from their leader in what they should do but they also need encouragement in completing these tasks and goals.

After this lecture, my goal is to remember that each group, team, and individual needs different things from their leaders. In order to get the best from the people that you are leading, you need to create a relationship with them to figure out what exactly they are going to need from you in order to be the most successful. I would also like to self reflect on myself after working with a team to see if I did a good job in giving them what they need and what I could do differently to be even more successful.

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