PHL118L

Central Michigan graduates ethical leaders. This is what I was told when I toured Central, when I competed for the Leader Advancement Scholarship, and repeatedly since I got here. I was always a bit skeptical, however. It’s easy to say that Central graduates ethical leaders but what will Central provide me that will make me a more ethical leader than graduates from other universities?

My answer came in the form of PHL118L, Intro to Philosophy, with Gary Fuller. So often we view ethics as cut and dried decisions. Often, when I use to think about ethics, I viewed it as a simple decision: do the easy thing or the right thing. Do the thing that will make you more money, or the right thing. However, it did not take long in Professor Fuller’s course for me to realize that when it comes to a majority of decisions, especially those decisions that leaders face, it is not this cut and dried.

Throughout the semester we examined many topics including abortion, war, torture, euthanasia, and more. A majority of the class was examining the pros and cons of these topics and making a decision. One of the biggest things I took away from this course is that often there is not ‘right’ choice. Nonetheless, being in a leadership position we are going to have to make a choice. It is our responsibility to look at it from all sides, weigh the options, and justify our decision. This course was one that I enjoyed going to and truly helped me develop as an ethical leader.

LDR200L

During my second semester at Central, to fulfill my LAS protocol and work towards my leadership minor, I had the privilege of taking LDR200L: Intro to Leadership. This class provided a more serious and in depth look at leadership than LDR100. LDR200L was different than any class I have ever taken because it was so focused on leadership. Throughout this course we have taken a look at several important leadership characteristics, leadership styles, and have learned some valuable skills.

During LDR200L we were responsible for presenting on two different occasions: our leadership initiative and our workshop. The initiatives were much more casual than the workshops but provided quality, hands on learning experiences. The initiatives were particularly enjoyable for me because the short duration allowed the presenters to focus on only the most important information and it was easier for me to maintain my focus throughout the entire presentation.

Furthermore, the workshops provided a more in depth look at some leadership styles. It is no secret that there are limitless leadership styles but knowing what the different styles are and how to use them properly is a challenge. Taking LDR200L gave my cohort and me an opportunity to take a deeper look into some of the more prevalent leadership styles. These workshops gave me a wide variety of different leadership styles and how to apply them to my everyday life.

LDR200L has been a bit of an eyeopening experience. As leaders we naturally get comfortable with our leadership style and the way we do things. We may refuse to embrace other leadership styles, be unaware of them, or just not understand them. However, being able to take part in this course was an eye-opening experience to how to become a better leader and maximize my impact.

PSC105L

As part of LAS protocol we are required to take a Political Science class during our Sophomore year. However, because HST110L was full, I was able to take it a year early with the LAS Sophomores and some fellow Freshman. This experience has been interesting to say the least.

From day one, Professor Thomas Stewart has not hesitated to question our leadership. In regards to the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and politics as a whole he has openly called us out for not being knowledgeable about these topics. Although this caused many to become offended and frustrated, I enjoyed it. Rather than accepting what we came to class knowing Professor Stewart demanded more from us and refuses to accept less than our best.

Throughout the course we have learned about how the government branches and checks and balances as well as our Constitutional rights. Learning about these is interesting and something all Americans should know, however, it didn’t really help me as a leader. The days that I grew the most as a leader Professor Stewart wasn’t even there. Instead, we have had days throughout the semester where we split into four groups and discuss a crucial problem in society: distrust of the police and police brutality.

For four days during the semester four graduate assistants came in and each took a group of students to discuss these problems. Before each day we were assigned readings to educate ourselves on the topics before discussing them amongst our groups. This experience was an extremely enlightening experience. Hearing the opinions of my peers Police Brutalityon such a hot topic was interesting. But these discussion groups have been more than just discussing police brutality; we talked about the causes and what we can do to prevent it. These groups have helped me grow as a leader by making me more aware of the problems people face everyday and making me consciously think about what I can do to help.

PSC105L has been one of my favorite courses throughout the semester without a doubt. From Professor Stewart constantly pushing us to learn our rights as Americans to discussing some of the most concerning issues in our society, there is never a dull moment in Political Science. Throughout the semester I have grown as a leader and as an American.

Simon Says

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This is the underlying idea in Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. As part of our LDR200L course we watched this Ted Talk to gain a better understanding of the mindset of the people that follow us. Essentially, what Simon says during the Ted Talk, is that people don’t care about what you do, it’s about why you do it. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. After years of school, sports, and extracurricular activities this statement proves to be undoubtably true.

Partaking in these activities has given me a myriad of different people to follow and the people I follow the most passionately all have the same quality: they are passionate about what they do and they care about their followers. The intent behind the leader makes all the difference. A superior that doesn’t have their followers best interests in mind will never be followed very passionately. Having a coach, teacher, or advisor that is passionate about what they do inspires their followers just by their passion and how much they care. It is these leaders that are usually the most successful as well.

meme-friday-sinek This plays right into what Sinek was saying. In the example he used, with the Wright Brothers, he said Samuel Pierpont Langley was in it for the wrong reasons: he wanted the money and the fame. All the conditions were right, but he didn’t succeed. On the other hand, the Wright Brothers were driven because they believed they could change the course of the world. As a result, the people that worked for them, believed in their dream and followed with “blood, sweat, and tears” rather than just a paycheck. This statement is what sticks out most to me. If you work towards a cause passionately rather than something superficial, like money or fame, your followers will work for you-not for the money.

In conclusion, I agree with Sinek’s underlying idea in his Ted Talk. A leader without passion can hardly be called a leader at all. Why a leader does what they do makes all the difference not just in their effort, but in their follower’s efforts as well.

Does Leadership Come from a “Yes” or “No”

As part of our LDR200L course we were asked the question “does leadership come for a ‘yes’ or ‘no?'” When I first heard this I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret it. Is the question asking whether leadership comes from either a yes or a no, or is it asking if leadership comes from a yes/no decision or not? I interpreted it with the latter of the two: Does Leadership Come a Yes or No Decision?

I went back and forth on this topic for quite a bit before deciding yes, leadership does come from a yes or no. The reason I believe this is because at the end of the day the decisions that go into being a leader, and a follower, come down to yes or no’s. When I was thinking about this prompt I decided that leadership does come from a yes or no because of these decisions. For example, the biggest one that stuck out in my mind was that a follower has to make the decision yes or no decision on whether or not to follow. But there are so many more than just this decision. It starts with the leader deciding whether or not to take that first step, then the followers deciding whether of not they buy into what the leader is saying, and then decided whether or not to follow the leader with a million other decisions along the way.

Yes, leadership is an extremely complex thing and a ton goes into it. However, leadership doesn’t come from just a single yes or no-it comes from all the yes or no’s that are made. All too often we complicate things into being so complex that we can’t imagine all the possibilities and the potential decisions. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. Rather we can simplify our decisions into yes or no’s. Do we take the action, or not? Do we support this person, or not? These yes or no decisions, that we make everyday, make up who we lead, who we follow, and who we are.

Adding a Spark to Leadership

During my first semester on campus I had the privilege of partaking in the Spark Leadership Series. Spark is a four week program put on by the Leadership Institute that takes leaders from all over campus and enhances their leadership abilities and acts as a “leadership development workshop.” During these four weeks I was able to participate in a lot of leadership building activities that helped me grow as a leader and a person.

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Me and my Spark group!

Prior to Spark I was expecting just your basic leadership building exercises along with some speakers. Despite Spark fulfilling these expectations pretty well I took away more than I expected from Spark and had a blast while doing it.

The biggest thing I took away from Spark was how to use my leadership style to my advantage. During the second session we took a test that gave us one of the four leadership styles including direct, spirited, considerate, and systematic. The result of the test told me that I was a direct leader. We then received a paper highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of our style. The direct leader can be counted on to be efficient and quickly accomplish assignments but may become to competitive and prevent teamwork and burn out others.

Perhaps even more important than learning about our own leadership styles we learned how to work well with other leadership styles and use everyone to the best of their ability. Overall, Spark was a great series that offered me another opportunity to work on my leadership and interact with my my fellow Chippewas.

Connecting the Leaders

As part of the LAS protocol we are given the opportunity to attend a leadership conference at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City called Connections Conference. Connections Conference offers a weekend getaway for 150 Central Michigan students to go to the Great Wolf Lodge to meet new people, work on our leadership, and, of course, play in the waterpark.

Connections started off by splitting us into predetermined groups. I was a part of the Coles Institute. My group emphasized being aware of and utilizing the myriad of assets that Central has to offer. These include the countless registered student organizations, the Leadership Institute, the library, student activity center, and so many more.

After we broke out of our original groups we proceeded to attend four speeches emphasizing leadership. This time we were given the choice as to which ones we wanted to attend. The first session I chose to attend was the session “Need more Personal Movement and Balance? Maybe it’s time to look at your D.A.M.M.” This session highlighted effective ways to manage your time. We examined how we spend our time and more efficient ways we could potentially spend our time. I found this session to be very interesting and enlightening, showing me just how much time I actually waste and how to manage my time which is arguably the toughest thing to do efficiently in college.

The second session I attended was “Polishing your leadership image.” This session discussed the importance of first impressions, the image we portray, and how to maintain a healthy, attractive leadership image. This included things along the lines of what we post on social media, how we introduce ourselves, and tricks for more efficient personal interactions. This session provided a healthy reflection of the type of image I portray everyday. It was definitely a good thing to take a step back and examine the things I need to work on as well as the things I do well because our leadership image is so crucial.

The third session I attended was “The Authentic Leader: Promoting Self-Awareness in Leadership Development.” This session took a different approach to the other sessions I attended. Instead of teaching us a new concept or reminding us of important ones this session focused on self-reflection. For a majority of the sessions we were examining our themes. We did this by taking an online quiz which gave us our five top themes. My themes included restorative, adaptability, achiever, includer, and belief. To see what my themes are gives me the ability to consciously
use the abilities and incorporate them in my leadership styles.

The final session I attended was “Don’t Get Caught in the Mouse Trap of Communication.” This was easily the most hands on of all of the sessions. To begin the session we were paired up with a fellow student. One student closed their eyes while the other verbally guided them to disarm a mouse trap. After practicing this for a couple minutes and overcoming the original fear the guide explained how essential communication is especially for leaders.

Perhaps the best part of Connections was the opportunity to network with our fellow Chippewas in a form of speed dating. Being able to meet so many Chippewas that I don’t

Connections Conference

Some friends and I taking advantage of the waterpark.

normally get to see and getting to know them was a nice change-up. Enjoying the water park was a great networking opportunity but there was also plenty of other opportunities over the weekend including speed dating. Speed dating was set up to help us get to know people that we normally don’t see around campus. The only rule was we couldn’t talk to someone we already know. This helped to introduce me to a ton of new people I had never seen on campus, let alone meet.

Connections was not only a blast but also a great opportunity to grow as a leader while forming bonds with my fellow Chippewas. The lessons I learned from Connections I still take with me and I often find myself reflecting on what I learned during the time I spent there.