My Leadership Style

Studying leadership this year has allowed me to do in-depth studies on influential leaders, work together with my classmates to create projects, and really begin to see myself as a leader. I have realized that being a leader does not always mean taking charge of a group but can also mean simply guiding discussion among that group. I also learned that to be a leader, I first need to be an effective listener. I first learned about active listening in my speech 1100 class and could see that it is an integral aspect of communication. It is important to listen but also to show the person you are paying attention. Through this, others may be empowered and want to be a part of your team. My favorite elements of leadership are building a team, leading with goals, making decisions, and empowering others. In this class, I have learned to synthesize them in order to utilize all the skills I have developed over the course of the semester.

            Building a team requires twelve steps according to the reading “Twelve Ways to Better Team Building” by Ellen J. Belzer. I don’t think all of these are necessary to form an effective team but a few of them really resonated with me. Step three is to define the roles in the group. I think a great way to do this is not necessarily to tell people what to do and assign them tasks but rather ask for volunteers and make suggestions or create a rotation table so everyone takes turns. Another step I think is really important is using liberal doses of “we” and “our” because this really helps form a group identity and makes everyone feel involved. It is also important to ask for others’ opinions on certain things because the budget and schedule, etc. belong to the group, not an individual. The final step I think is really important is to develop an open atmosphere. This is one thing I think is absolutely necessary in team building because I want everyone to be able to voice their opinion in a safe environment. I would like my leadership style to include these three steps in team building. I really think team building is an important concept for any leader because in almost all cases, a team can reach a goal more efficiently than an individual.

            I will incorporate leading with goals into my leadership style because I think it is one of the most important parts of being a leader. Leading without a goal or with multiple goals really hinders the progress of the group. To lead effectively there must be a definite, central goal. I have seen first-hand through my service learning experience how leading with goals can really speed up the group’s progress because with the goal in mind, everyone is determined to meet that goal. At my service learning site, we helped the kindergarteners put on a talent show for the preschoolers. At first the kids didn’t really want to participate and some were too shy to sing and dance. The other teachers and I had the same goal but the students did not have the same goal. This meant they were not willing to participate and found the process tedious. After a week or so of this however, our goals became the kids’ goal as well and they all danced and sang and wanted to be better and perform well. Once we reached this turning point, we reached our goal in no time and made significantly better progress.

            Making decisions is often the hardest part of being a leader. Many times we are faced with difficult choices and opportunities and the results could be fantastic or disastrous. From studying the art of making decisions for a group, I have seen the many benefits of utilizing the process of inquiry over that of advocacy. Inquiry means that the people want to produce a solution everyone can agree with rather than approach the situation as a contest as in advocacy. I can also see the benefits of calling in experts when perhaps you are not as informed on something that others may be. Sometimes however, decisions must be made quickly. In this case, a leader must go with their best judgment after weighing out both options. I learned at my service learning site that sometimes inquiry can waste too much time. For instance, there was a child hanging off a bar at the playground and I deemed it too high for him to be on and helped him down. Although the child was upset, had I waited to ask the other instructors, he could have fallen and been badly injured. A leader must know when to be efficient in decision-making and when to slow down and call a meeting.

            Empowering others plays a huge part in my role as a leader because I really enjoy getting others involved and perhaps opening them up to something they really enjoy as well. I admire transformational leaders the most because of the immense influence they may have over a person they don’t even know. For example, I wrote my leader paper analysis on Gandhi, a transformational leader; because I really admire the way he influenced people through his wisdom and peacefulness. Many people believe in his morality and ideals and those things shape who we are. I really see the importance of providing direction for others because they may go on to become a successful leader themselves and if not; they will feel a strong appreciation for the sudden clarity you have granted them. I feel so much gratitude for the leaders who have inspired me because they still inspire me every day and everyone needs inspiration in order to achieve really great things in life. For example, Rosa Parks has paved the way for many successful African American rights leaders who came after her. I also see the importance of rewarding followers for their good-doing because recognition is an important part of motivation for them to keep going and continuing to change the world. An example to show the importance of empowering others is the change in women’s roles from the 1920-1930’s to current time. Women over time have become powerful and successful and today less and less are choosing to be housewives and are becoming active in their communities. If everyone in the world was empowered, who knows how different the world might be?

            My leadership style has really come together well over the course of the semester and I feel empowered having just figured out my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I can now put all these skills to use by completing objectives at work, making a difference in my community, and simply influencing people around me. Leaders always have a place in the world, for there is always a cause that needs supporting, a group that needs direction or a goal that needs to be met. Although you do not have to be considered a leader to lead, I now consider myself an active leader in all aspects of my life. Although many leaders receive great recognition, sometimes it is those who do not, who really influence us the most. We are affected in some way by leaders every day; they are all around us, and now I am prepared to join them as a leader in society wherever I go.

Living Leadership Capstone Reflection

My personal definition of leadership is when someone can accurately represent a group through knowledge of their wants, needs, and goals and help them achieve those goals by listening and deciding the most effective path to success.

            One way I have developed as a leader this year is when I learned that sometimes it is best to listen before making a decision too quickly. I always used to assume that I would have the best idea/solution when I was placed in a problem-solving situation but through the leadership program and my leadership class at the College of DuPage, now I can see that sometimes other people may have more effective or quicker solutions to a problem. I have heard some ideas this year that I never would have considered as an option that have turned out to work very successfully.

            Another way I have developed as a leader this year is when I learned what my strengths as a leader are. Through the Strengths Quest workshop, I found out my top five strengths and I can now use them to my advantage when in a leadership situation or any situation for that matter. I also can see what I need to work on in the future as well.

            One final way I have developed as a leader this year is that I have really learned to take charge in a group setting. I used to be fairly timid and would not usually be the one to jump up with a great idea or solution. I would usually kind of sit back and wait for someone else to take charge. I now can readily take charge, when appropriate. I also know the difference between times when I should lead and when I should sit back. For example, in a situation with a really specific problem, if someone else is an expert on that subject and I’m really not, they of course should lead the group.

            I am proud of the fact that I have served as the President of a club this semester at COD. I never really saw myself as that type of person but it was really enjoyable and I learned a lot about leadership and my own personal leadership style through that experience. Another thing I am proud of is that I also served as a student ambassador at COD this year. I learned a lot about the school and met a lot of people who taught me important things about leadership very early in the year and I am very grateful for that experience as well. I also am very proud of the leadership I have taken on at work. I feel that now that I know my strengths as a leader i can apply them in pretty much any situation easily and effectively.

            Active participation to me means consistently taking part in an activity or community through leadership initiatives. You can participate without being active but when participating actively you make a much larger impact in your community or other group setting. Conscious decision-making to me means not only sitting down and making a decision but also to be knowledgeable about the issue at hand first and understanding the consequences of one’s actions as well. Understanding multiple perspectives to me means not only observing but taking the time to understand other’s views on issues that differ from your own.

            I have applied active participation in my community by joining many clubs and activities at COD to really get involved and stay updated on what is going on in my community. I also volunteer to provide service leadership as well. I have taken part in conscious decision-making several times when I must make decisions for a group. There have been times when I have had to make tough calls at work when I am left in charge or times when I have decided something for a club where I made sure to be informed and aware of the consequences of my actions before making any concrete decisions. Finally, I have observed multiple perspectives at my current volunteering site between the children and the adults.

            My leadership has impacted my community in a positive way because I am giving back to the community through service leadership and applying my knowledge from the leadership program wherever I go. In the next three years, I will find new ways to give back to my community whether through taking part in group decision-making or volunteering at a new site. I plan to always be active in my community.

Model UN Conference 2011

ImageThe conference I attended was called AMUN (American Model United Nations). It was a conference for a bunch of Model U.N. clubs to meet and hold mock committee meetings. It was held in the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers on November 19-22, 2011.

            I chose to attend this conference as a member of the College of DuPage Model U.N. on the CSD (Commission on Sustainable Development) committee to further my knowledge about the real United Nations and what they do. I also attended to broaden my knowledge about what is going on in other parts of the world and learn more about environmental issues and solutions.

            Our attendance at the Model U.N. conference positively impacted everyone who attended because we all left more knowledgeable not only about our assigned country (we were the United Kingdom), but all the rest as well. It is beneficial for the community for us to be more educated so we can be more actively involved in the community.

            There was a short speech by a keynote speaker at the beginning of the conference by the head of the chair board. They explained to us the rules of the mock committees and we were given schedules. We were also told about the importance of the Model U.N. and what the real United Nations was about. I took away the importance of the United Nations and I felt really good to be involved in an activity surrounding world affairs. We had prepared a lot before the conference and I knew it was all going to pay off when we would get to speak in our committee as the United Kingdom.

            Each breakout session took place in our own committee, which was the Commission of Sustainable Development. I learned a lot about the formal procedures on the first day since we had not previously practiced those. On the first night, we created an agenda for the following days. On Sunday, we split into sub-committees and began to draft resolutions about the issues we dealt with. I learned a lot about how to work with others and incorporate our research in with theirs. I think everyone played an equal part in the resolution drafting process and it was very interesting to see different perspectives about the biggest environmental issues in different parts of the world right now.

            The breakout session I enjoyed the most was when we began drafting the resolutions because we all got to talk and put in our input on the topic before anything would be drafted. Then using our knowledge of the UK, we would have to debate for what the UK would want to happen on the issue instead of what we may personally think. I also thought it was very interesting to learn about the perspectives of some other countries there that I had never previously even heard of.

            I observed that for the most part, the chair was the leader because they regulate the debates and conversations between all the delegates. The chair also calls on people to speak and decides whether or not a debate may continue over its designated time. The chair also would ask for a vote from everyone and they would tally the votes us as well. Also, I thought the delegate from the United States of America was definitely acting as a leader because she was very persistent with what she wanted but she also took time to discuss and compromise with others. She was very adamant about her resolution but still was diplomatic if others did not agree.

            The first thing I am taking away from this experience is a broader worldly knowledge base. I learned a lot about world issues, not only environmental but economical as well. Another thing I take away from this conference is multiple perspectives because I listened to everyone’s opinions about the issues and it was really interesting when people mentioned things I would never even consider as an option. Finally, I take away a new perspective on leadership from this conference because in this case where the chair was the designated leader, there were still others who rose up and stood as the leaders of the delegates.

Service Learning Reflection

I am volunteering at the Bloomingdale Park District after-school kindergarten program for my Honors Leadership Development class but since I have completed my volunteering with the College of DuPage student ambassadors specifically for the leadership program, I will write about that one.

            I have volunteered 16 hours at the College of DuPage as a Student Ambassador Volunteer. The community needs students to serve and help others at the college by giving tours to high school students, greeting and answering questions at events, and just generally helping out others around the school.

            My service helped to meet that goal when I gave tours of the new buildings at College of DuPage such as the Culinary and Hospitality Center and the Homeland Security Center. Many important people come to check out these events and we wanted to make it as informative and well-organized as we could. In this way, I also learned about the location of all the buildings on campus and I helped out in the first few weeks of school by handing out maps and directing new students to their classrooms.

            One of the best things I learned was how to give tours. I had been fairly shy and didn’t really want to do this at the beginning and although I haven’t given many tours I learned very quickly how to do it successfully. Throughout the touring, I had to master the arts of walking backwards and keeping the crowd entertained. I would ask questions about what they are interested in to then tell them about the club/sport we have here at the college. In addition, it was really cool to see all these building that I probably never would have otherwise and I got to attend events students are not usually invited to. The coolest two things I did were at the Homeland Security Center. I got to shake hands with the architect of the building and I also got to be there for the uncovering of the 9/11 artifact we have on display there. It is a piece of one of the towers.

            The challenges I had to meet were not being afraid to ask people if they needed help. I used to wait until someone asked me a question but now I have learned to approach someone who looks lost and ask if they need directions on campus.

            I learned that joining this group really made me value the community and I really felt that I am a part of the community as well so I am giving back to others at the same time as I am benefiting myself. My service in the ambassadors changed me in that I have learned a lot about the school and also about myself. I try to be more approachable and help others out more often than I used to.

            My opinion of community service definitely changed after this. I used to feel that community service was boring and although it felt good to give back, I never thought it could be fun at the same time. During student ambassadors, I got to see new, cool things, hang out with my friends, and give back to the community at the same time.

            I do plan to keep serving the community in the future. Now I am at my local park district helping out the teachers in an after-school kindergarten and pre-school program and I really enjoy this as well because it is also a lot of fun and the kids are really appreciative. I also sometimes volunteer at my public library in a youth group program where we come up with fun activities for children/teens to take part in at the library.

This is a photo of a flower project we did for arts&crafts.


Leader Case Study: Mahatma Gandhi

I really admire the leadership of the main figure of India’s history of the twentieth century, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi became a leader when he returned to India in 1915 after taking part in passive protests in South Africa (Trueman). He then joined the Congress movement and emerged as one of the party’s leaders. He led the people of India by directing them towards a peaceful approach. He was arrested several times. He even produced salt by the ocean since Britain had a monopoly on salt production in India (Trueman). Finally, he was assassinated by someone who could not tolerate Gandhi’s belief that Muslims were equal value to Hindus. Gandhi found his path to leadership when he became one of the leaders of the Congress movement and he used his power for good. He also attended Round Table Conferences in Britain in 1931 to try a diplomatic approach with the British (Trueman). Overall, Gandhi wanted India to be free of Britain’s economic control and see peace throughout India.

Gandhi exemplifies many concepts utilized in leadership positions. To begin, Gandhi possessed the ten traits of dynamic leaders. Early on he portrayed self-knowledge through his activism in South Africa. Even before Gandhi became an iconic leader, he was informed and involved in protesting for his beliefs and others’ freedoms. He was open to feedback and eager to learn and improve in the way that he never disregarded someone’s opinion and he knew there were people he could learn from. He was a risk-taker without being violent when he would produce salt against the British’ wishes. He learned from adversity, although he was not born into any bad situations, he has gone through his life always fighting for something whether it be human rights, racial discrimination, or India’s Independence. Even now after he has passed he has remained a model to many. Gandhi also utilized many qualities of chaordic leadership. He didn’t believe in power but he believed that everyone was equal to everyone else. He also knew we can learn from our mistakes when he said “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes (“Gandhi Quotes”).” He also realized that much can be learned not through what people directly say, but what they don’t say. He also was a man of high ethics. When a few police officers were burned alive during a protest, Gandhi went on a hunger strike which continued for days until India vowed to not go back to violence again (“5 Codes”). In most cases he approached ethics with the Fairness and Justice Approach and treated everyone as equals. Gandhi discovered a common purpose by seeing what India needed before others. India needed a leader and needed to be brought together to work for a common goal. He used a positive communication style by always being optimistic and enthusiastic about his ideas. He always remained genuine because he believed that “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence (“Gandhi Quotes”).” His vision for India came true after he used some basic team building strategies. Gandhi often used “we” and “our” to help create a group vision because he knows at the heart of a great group is a shared dream. He continued to define roles by declaring his method of passive resistance and provided hope for his followers. Gandhi also understood the power of goals. He always wanted to understand before trying to be understood and knew how to visualize the end results. He was proactive in the way that he was always a conscious decision-maker and thought everything through beforehand yet hardly wasted any time. He knew that in order to complete his goal, he needed to step up and be a leader in order to create a team. In a group setting, it is very apparent that Gandhi would have preferred inquiry over advocacy through many of his teachings. He listened to others opinions and would not care for heated debates which would include insults and unfocused arguments. He knew the importance of deciding something as a group because one person’s decision alone was not always the best outcome for everyone. Gandhi tended to treat all conflict similarly since he was absolutely against violence. He was an effective leader through his active participation in all conflicts concerning India’s freedom and human rights.

Gandhi practiced active participation by always thinking of himself and acting as though he were a normal Indian civilian. Wherever the people went, he went. He dressed the way he felt everyone else dressed and never put himself above anyone. He felt that everyone was equal. He also went to jail many times for his active participation in passive protests. He actively participated against the salt production monopoly of Britain by walking to the ocean to create his very own salt. He made conscious decisions by always thinking of the country as a whole instead of just himself or any one person. He also did this by first understanding the problems at hand. He knew the religious issues of India were too deep for any remedy to work and therefore he “collaborated with Mountbatten and Wavell to build up independence in 1947” (Trueman). Gandhi observed multiple perspectives when he attended the Round Table Conferences to speak and listen to the British representatives and also when he encountered others who did not think everyone is equal or who did not think passive resistance is the best way to proceed but in the end he carried out the actions he thought were best for his country.

I chose this leader because I have been very interested in Indian history and Hindu culture for a long time and I really admire the courage and wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi. He was very influential in revitalizing India’s economy and was also a pacifist. He was a man of peace and never encouraged any form of violence. He preached instead of passive resistance, which meant not to obey the British forces but not to harm them either. He believed no good ever came out of violent actions. His leadership in the past impacts me today by the influence his leadership style has had on present leaders and my own personal leadership philosophy.

Gandhi had a very positive impact on his community because he not only brought the people of India closer together but inspired millions of people all over the world. He never endorsed any violence and therefore also had a positive impact on the safety of the British soldiers. Gandhi believed in equality and passive resistance and those ideas have settled in the minds of the future generation who will ultimately make the decision of violence or peace at some point. Gandhi brought creativity and innovative ideas to the world of protesting and even today his ideas are still thought about and carried out and the consequences are all positive.