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.
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.
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.
Introduction to Psychology was part of the Leadership Advancement Scholarship protocol, therefore everyone without Psychology credit in my cohort had to take it. This class opened my eyes to see many different ways in which people think. One thing I learned from this class is that the more you spend time around people you like, you begin to like them more. I took more away from this class than just content though. All of our homework was online and the website kept a log of how much time was spent logged into the account. I spent 117 hours studying and doing homework for that class in a period of 16 weeks. This class was a great one to take my freshman year because while it took lots of effort, it was manageable if you were willing to put in the work. Professor Prewett did a nice job with giving us lots of homework to teach us effective time management skills.
As part of the the protocol for the Leader Advancement Scholarship, each student under the program was required to take Introduction to Debate. I took a debate class in high school, so I personally loved this class. Each of us performed in 3 different policy debates: a practice Parliamentary Debate, a Parliamentary Debate, and a Lincoln-Douglas Debate. The professor, Dr. Cory Hillman, did a great job with presenting the reasons for argumentation and the history of debate. One thing I learned throughout this class was the different fallacies people use to divert attention. It makes it easier to win arguments when fallacies are pointed out in arguments. My communication skills have become better throughout the semester from listening to other people’s points, processing them, and then effectively responding to the issues addressed. Overall, this class was very effective and enjoyable. I would encourage everyone to take this course.
I am very honored to say that I was part of the very first Spark Leadership Series at Central Michigan University. This program used to be known as the Alpha Leadership Experience, but evolved to become more effective in the development of leadership. Spark has taught me how to become a more effective leader by developing my view in a series of multiple workshops and activities. All of the participants were split into small teams of about 10 people (my team was Team Motivation). With our teams we set goals for our group as a whole, and for ourselves. My personal goal was to enhance my leadership skills and meet new people. Our team goals were to: have fun, motivate each other, develop skills as a group, be friends inside and out of the program, build each other up, and be supportive. To take advantage of the amazing opportunity we were given, we set standards on how to achieve these goals. We established a positive environment that was inclusive and free from stereotypes. Reaching out to each other was not a duty, but something we did because we cared. My group set our own definition for leadership-it comes in many forms and is unique to everyone. I personally learned my leadership style is spirited. Spirited leaders supply energy for their group and share excitement for everyone around. They make work enjoyable and motivate others to reach their full potential. I believe it is important to know my leadership style so I can coordinate with other leadership styles to work effectively. I know as a leader I excel at caring for and supporting others, but I need to work on giving feedback to others. Feedback is important because it helps individuals grow in areas where they need improvement. I am going to start letting others know how to improve instead of just what they are doing well. This will allow others to grow and expand their own horizons. Another area I am going to improve on is planning. I am going to write everything down that needs to be done that way I will finish before deadlines and ensure I have more free time. Lastly, I want to promote diversity. Not only will I reach out to everyone around me, but I will encourage my friends to reach out to others as welFollowershipl. I never want anyone to feel excluded. I will create an environment that promotes inclusion and not exclusion.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” -Bill Gates
Leadership Safari was the first experience I had at Central Michigan University. Over 2000 freshmen and transfer students moved in a week early and participated in activities that enhanced leadership skills. After arriving to campus and checking in, we were then split into animal groups of about 10 people and a guide. In the animal groups, our guides lead us through deep discussions. One activity I found really insightful was deciding what to do in a tough circumstance. We had to make the choice and let our groups know why we chose the option we did. This helped enhance my communication and listening skills by hearing what others had to say about topics, and applying that to what I should say. In the future, if a touchy subject ever comes up, I will have a general idea of what is appropriate, and inappropriate, to say. There were also multiple speakers that engaged deep thought about life, professional goals, and relationships. Because of Leadership Safari, I have made new friends who share similar values to mine, and strengthened friendships I had with the other Leader Advancement Scholars at CMU. I even got the opportunity to meet Central’s very own, President Ross.