COM 461L: Communication in Leadership

I am just finishing up my last class with my Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort, Communication in Leadership. It was a very informative and interesting class that focused in depth on different leadership styles and how leaders communicate with their followers. My professor was one of the most passionate and bubbly professors I have

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The leadership case study book

ever had, which made learning the content super engaging and fun. Half of the content came from a textbook, where we learned the topics of discussion, but the other half came from a case study book. I really enjoyed the case study book because it applied the lessons we learned in class to real life situations. Out of the nine cases my class read, a little over half of them dealt with effective leadership. The others were more about cases that could have been effective if different choices were made. We had many group discussions about the cases in class that helped me see why some case results were super effective, while others were problematic. For example, it is always important to make sure a leader’s motivation is for the right reason. It is also important to treat followers with respect and have good ethical standards. However, other topics I learned can be rated on effectiveness by the different tasks at hand, and the readiness and willingness levels of followers. One example would be being a democratic leader vs an authoritarian leader vs a laissez-faire leader.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed the class and I am glad I had the opportunity to take it with my whole cohort. It made group discussions and the class climate more open and collaborative. Everything I learned in class, I will be able to carry with me as a leader and apply it to my everyday life. I am glad this class is required for the Leadership minor, because even though there is content similar to LDR 200, there is more covered and it is much more in depth.

SOC 221: Social Problems

This semester I took the class Social Problems, at Central Michigan University, and had no idea what to expect. Six months ago, I did not even know about half the social problems that I do now. Each day I attended class, I was shocked and I always left feeling sad because I found out about issues I was not fully unaware of, such as violence and crime. I also learned more about issues I thought I was well versed in, such as gender inequality. However, even though being sad is not viewed as a good thing, there can be positives to it. The first step in fixing an issue is to know it exists. Now that I know about so many more issues in the world, I can start to take action and notify other people. For example, over the course of the semester I found out that I really want to become more sustainable and reach out to others and educate them. SOC 221 has a semester long project where each student selects a social issue, researches it, writes a paper on what institutions are causing the social problem and what can be done as a society to fix the issue, and then to take action themselves. For my topic, I chose plastic water bottles in the ocean. This class allowed me to fully educate myself on a social issue and take action to make a positive change. I gave a persuasive speech on the harms of disposable plastic water bottles in my Public Speaking class and encouraged everyone to start using reusable water bottles and reject plastic water bottles when they are offered them. I then typed my speech out, posted it on my blog, and shared the link on Facebook. I really do believe that as humans, we need to take better care of the Earth. This class has allowed me to speak out and create a positive change for the environment. I also plan on taking the information I have learned about other social problems in class, and sharing that knowledge with my peers.soc.jpg.

 

HDF 110: Oppression: Roots and Impact on Human Development in the United States

In the first semester of my sophomore year I took the class Oppression: Roots and Impact on Human Development in the United States, also known as HDF 110. The class was very interesting and informative because it taught me about privilege, power and oppression from a non-bias standpoint. The forms of oppression I learned about were: racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism and classism (socioeconomic status).

I never realized how easily we are exposed to privilege, power and oppression. One of the projects I completed in the class was a cultural awareness assignment. The first part of the assignment required me to write about five different instances where I observed privilege, power or oppression in my every day life. My observations came from stereotypes of race, sex, sexual orientation, ability to complete certain tasks, and social class. Some of the conversations I heard encompassed more than one of these stereotypes. For example, one of the conversations I heard was about race and sex. Stereotypes and expectations from a group of people can range from huge topics in the news to assuming a woman will take a man’s last name when she is married. I realized that I hear about these topics more than I was previously aware. The second part of the assignment was to find an instances from news sources or pop culture sources that highlight each form of oppression I learned about in class. I found the instances in music, television shows, YouTube videos, online news, and magazine articles. Privilege, power and oppression are spread throughout society on a wide scale using the media, whether it is to acknowledge or enforce it in a negative or positive way. The unfortunate reality is that many people are not aware of oppression if they are not in the group that is being oppressed.privilege

HDF 110 taught me there are ways to fix the issues of privilege, power and oppression. The first step is to acknowledge that a problem does exist and that it is a problem for everyone. The second step to to pay attention to where the privilege, power and oppression come from. This step is what the cultural awareness assignment did – it made everyone in the class see where these issues are found in every day life. The third step is to listen to opposing viewpoints and counter arguments. It is also important to listen when an opinion gets checked because there is always a reason why. Maybe something that was said was offensive and it was not even known to be offensive. The final step is to do something about the issue of privilege, power or oppression on a micro level or macro level. A micro level would be to point issues out to friends and family. A macro level would be to join organizations or write letters for change.

Everyone has the ability to be a leader and make a difference in this world, but it is important to listen and understand everyone’s viewpoints. It is our job in society to reduce the power given to privileged groups and distribute it among everyone because in reality, we are all humans who deserve to be happy.

LDR 200L: Introduction to Leadership

Introduction to Leadership was taken my second semester at CMU with Jesi Ekonen as the professor. This class was my first 3 hour class and my first night class in college, but it was still enjoyable to attend every week because the energy of my professor, the teacher’s assistants, and the rest of my cohort was infectious. In this class, I learned about the different leadership theories and styles and how different ones evolve over time. My class was split up into groups and we taught each other the different leadership theories and styles through workshops. My workshop group covered Servant Leadership and made sure we taught it to our classmates with the best of our abilities. The class was split into groups again so everyone could facilitate a leadership activity. Towards the end of the semester, my class also took a service trip to Detroit to volunteer with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and CASS Community Social Services.

From LDR 200L, my facilitating skills increased immensely. Before, I never knew what facilitating was, let alone that effective facilitators debrief at the end of their sessions. That term was completely foreign to me. I would just jump right into an activity and jump right out, but now I know how to properly introduce an activity and bring meaning to it at the end by tying it all together. I also learned about different leadership theories and styles, for example the Trait Approach says leaders are born and not made while the Skill Approach says the opposite. While each theory might be true, it is important to understand both and why they were each developed.

It is important to know the different theories and styles to understand different leaders and see why they act the way they do. Knowing about each of them also shows everyone the different skills and weaknesses they have. Different approaches work in different scenarios. Followers are essential to leaders so it is vital to understanding when to act in certain ways. From doing my workshop on Servant Leadership, I can now be conscious if I am genuinely acting like a leader. When I am doing community service, I can ask myself am I just doing service for attention, or am I actually displaying the 10 characteristics of a servant leader (listening, empathy, healing, etc.). I will also carry my facilitation skills with me and can apply them everywhere: in group projects, work, and activities I have been instructed to lead. Effective facilitation is important because it brings a group together and helps get creative thoughts to flow between members.

HST 110L WI: The American Experience

During my second semester at Central Michigan University, I enrolled in a writing intensive American History course with the rest of the Leader Advancement Scholars in my cohort. The course was titled The American Experience and was taught by Dr. Tobin. It was a very difficult class for me because I have never been great with remembering the exact dates of events or wrapping my brain around understanding the causes of them. However, I did do very well in the class. I have always been one to ask questions and make sure I fully understand a topic. Knowledge leads to growth and growth is essential to expand the horizons of thought and perspective. I attended my professor’s office hours when I needed extra help; she was always willing to help me out and I was very grateful for that. This class reinforced the importance of going to office hours and not being afraid to ask for help when it is needed. From the content I learned, it showed me that great leaders do not always make the best personal decisions. What presidents, officials, and other leaders do on their free time does not always effect how they can lead a powerful movement. Everyone has at least one flaw; nobody is born perfect. John F. Kennedy was not faithful to his wife their entire relationship, but he was still a very successful President of the United States. In addition to imperfections, I also learned about leaders who faced opposition, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Stanton. These people faced opposition but continued to push for what they believed in and eventually achieved their goals. That is one of the major takeaways I had in this class that I will apply to my everyday life. Fight for what you want, even if others say it is impossible or they do not support you. Good this come to those who are willing to work for them.

TED Talk Reflection: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek is a speaker who talks about how great leaders inspire action on a TED Talk by explaining that people follow based on what the leader believes. He presents the Golden Circle which dissects the way leaders and companies think. The outer circle explains what products or ideas leaders or companies are trying to sell. The middle circle explains how the idea or product works. The inner circle explains the purpose and beliefs behind the action or creation of a product or idea. Most people work from the outer in, but those who are successful work from the inner out. Sinek enforces the idea that people do not buy what you do, but why you do it. People who are are successful sell to people who believe what they believe, and they hire those who are not just in it for the money.

Sinek uses an example of Apple, illustrating how they have the same resources as every other company, but they are so innovated and successful because they tell people why they sell their products first. Instead of pitching that they make computers that are easy to use, they demonstrate that they believe in challenging the status quo by making computers that are easy to use. I learned that if I want to be a good leader, I need to tell people why they should follow me. I need to state my beliefs first because that is what people truly care about. I was introduced to the Golden Circle in this TED Talk and I believe its values and think its content is important to know when aspiring to be a leader. I knew that we follow people because we want to, but I never understood why until now. It’s because we believe in not just what they believe, but why they believe what they do.

I am now going to be upfront with what I believe and my reason for initiating a plan in meetings and group work instead of saving my reasons for the conclusion. I think that stating beliefs is a real attention grabber and keeps people interested and following. Just like Sinek said, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “I have a dream speech, not I have a plan speech” I will tell those who look up to me why I have a vision, not just how I am going to get there. For example, I want to decrease the number of people who text while they drive. Simply saying how I am going to help get the numbers down is okay, but explaining that there are too many lives taken from an easy-to-fix issue is why people would want to get the numbers down. A quote by Sinek that I am going to leave you with that I thought was insightful was, “Those who lead inspire us.” We follow those who have beliefs are similar to ours.

Current Leader I Admire

When I think of ethical leadership, I think of someone that everyone can look up to because their vision is in the best interest of everyone. Pope Francis is a great example of an ethical leader because not only does he lead Roman Catholics all over the world, but he accepts and loves everyone for who they are. For example, he washed the feet of a woman who was a Muslim prisoner. That is what Jesus wants, for people to love each other despite demographics. People want to follow him because he is a non-judging person who has an open heart with outstretched hands to all. I really admire Pope Francis because he is humble and works to lead others in his direction without criticizing or excluding others. When you Google Pope Francis, almost every picture that comes up he is smiling in. Not only is he inclusive, but he is happy. I think that is another very import part of leadership; carrying yourself with a positive attitude. According to fortune.com there was a survey done in March of 2014 where 1 in 4 Catholics said they would increase the amount they donated to the poor this year. 77% of those people said they would because of Pope Francis. He is helping the poor though positively impacting other people. If that is not great leadership than I do not know what is. I really hope that people can look up to me in the way that they look up to him. He reminds me that everyone is equal and we can all benefit from reaching out to one another.