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.

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Pi Sigma Epsilon

Ipsen the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided to join Pi Sigma Epsilon, the marketing and professional sales fraternity at Central Michigan University. I was initiated at the end of February and I have already experienced many of the benefits PSE has to offer. I have attended a professional sales networking night with business professionals, fundraised with my new member class to fund future sales competitions, attended weekly meetings to listen to numerous employer spotlights, learned how to dine with professionals at an etiquette dinner, cleaned up garbage on the side of Deerfield Road for Adopt-A-Road, volunteered at PSE’s annual Dart Tournament, attend my chhapter’s formal, and network with my peers.

Even though I have not been a full-fledged member for a whole semester yet, I have had so many wonderful professional and fun experiences. The fraternity is valuable because I am further developing myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. For example, at meetings random members will be called on to stand in front of about 100 other members and give a sales pitch on a random object they are assigned. One time I was called up and had to try and sell Cabbage Patch Kid dolls to college students. It was difficult to come up with points off the top of my head, but it was a great way to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something I do not get the chance to every day.

I know I am ready to step up and take a leadership role in PSE; that is why I recently applied to become the Director of Public Relations. Next year, I plan on running for Vice President of Public Relations for the Zeta Nu chapter. I am passionate about sales and want to put as much effort and time into my fraternity as I can to get the most out from it. PSE really is helping me grow into a successful business professional.

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Stepping Up To Be A Leader

All Leader Advancement Scholars are required to participate in a LEAD team every year. Last year my LEAD team was special events; this year it was Relay for Life. Relay for Life did not take place until March, so my team only had one meeting during first semester. As second semester rolled around, we still had not met again. I kept asking my friends on the team when we were meeting and no one had a clue. Finally, about a month before the event, I received an email from a young woman who works with the Leadership Institute. She told me that my original LEAD team captain stepped down and the position needed to be filled; a few scholars had been nominated by the Leadership Institute staff and I was one of them. Two other scholars and I took on the role as co-chairs for the Leadership Institute’s Relay for Life team.

untitledPart of our duty was to fundraise prior to the event. The only money that had been raised was $10. We had a team goal of $1,000 and we had about a month to do it. We called a last minute meeting with the team and decided to have a table in the Bovee University Center later that week. We were going to hand out suckers for a dollar and ask people to join our Relay for Life team. The table was not a success. We were stumped and had to come up with a new plan. With time running out, we could not organize any large events. My co-chairs and I sent out many emails to keep our team updated and gave everyone individual fundraising goals.

When the event rolled around, we had people pie our team in the face for $2. If they did that, they also received free cookies. We were also selling extra Leadership Institute clothing from previous years. At the end of the night, our team had raised $1,713.01! We were all super excited that we exceeded our goal by $713.01 and were the 7th highest fundraising team at the event.

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I really learned from this experience that leaders can come together in a short amount of time and still be effective. My co-chairs and team members were superstars and I am so proud of everyone who made the event a success.

My story does not just stop there. Through it all, the janitor came up to me and asked if we could pie him in the face in front of everyone. He offered to buy us real pies sduring his break instead of the whipped cream pies we were using. He told me it has been a dream of his since he was a little kid to receive a pie in the face while wearing nice clothes in front of a crowd to make them laugh. I told him we would make it happen and he came back after he was done with his shift. He walked up to our table, dressed up, carrying six pies. I began to tell the people on the track that they should watch as we pied the man. A few of the walkers even jumped in and grabbed a pie, including a cancer survivor that he asked to come pie him earlier in the day. After we finished, the man was so happy. He gave me a hug and told me I made one his dreams come true. I was filled with happiness that I not only helped raise money for cancer, but also helped a man fulfil one of his childhood dreams.d

Being a Mentor to a Wonderful Mentee

I met my mentee at the Leader Advancement Scholar picnic the first week of classes. We had texted a few times over summer break and I sent her a college packing list, but we had never spoke in person until the picnic. Being a sophomore, I am a mentor to a freshman in LAS and I could not have been paired with a more perfect one for me.

Alexa and I did not get to talk much at the picnic because she left early, but when we went on the annual LAS Mentor/Mentee Retreat, I really got to know her. We guided each other through a high ropes course 30 feet in the air and placed our trust not only in the harnesses, but in each other as well. I am not one who is afraid of heights or trying new things, however I hesitated a second before leaning backwards and falling off of the edge to return to the ground. I was scared the man standing below was going to lose his grip on the rope that held me. With Alexa’s encouragement, my hesitation was short lived and I leaned back. Even though I am her mentor, I still learn and grow from Alexa.

As we ate lunch and dinner, waited for our turn to do an activity, and sat around the campfire, I learned that Alexa is a beautiful human inside and out. She is extremely talented, caring, and also knows how to be goofy with me. I could not ask for a more perfect mentee.

Unfortunately, Alexa had to leave for a semester, so I did not get to see her all of second semester. However, I will always be there for her no matter what and I cannot wait for her to return in the fall. I miss my wonderful and inspiring mentee!

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.

Leadership Theory Application

As a Leader Advancement Scholar at Central Michigan University, I have to follow a specific protocol to ensure my scholarship is renewed each year. Part of the protocol is to volunteer in at least one community service activity. I believe service is essential in leadership because it displays the importance of community, and inspires others to step up as leaders and give back to the community. Some of the service work I have done throughout the course of my freshman year have been: contributing in the making of tie blankets for a children’s hospital, volunteering for Program Board to ensure events on campus run effectively and smoothly, making cards for veterans, visiting my adopted grandparent at her assisted living home, and taking a service trip to Detroit with my LAS cohort.

Through the service I have done to satisfy the LAS protocol, I have witnessed servant leadership in not only myself, but others as well. According to the 7th edition of Leadership: Theory and Practice, by Peter G. Northouse, servant leadership “emphasizes that leaders be attentive to the concerns of their followers, empathize with them, and nurture them. Servant leaders put followers first, empower them, and help them develop their full personal capacities.” There are ten characteristics of a servant leader and I am going to touch on a few that I have seen a few of them in myself, and a few of my friends.

  1. Listening
    • Me 12715305_1005936939473660_5932257340335704333_n When I visit my adopted grandmother, we always communicate with each other. Communication is a two way road: speaking and listening. Even after visiting her multiple times, I always leave with new knowledge acquired from my visit.
    • Josh Geary – Although it was not community service for our protocol, I have seen Josh display the listening characteristic of a servant leader when I was having a hard time one night. He sat there and listened to me ramble on about whatever I was sad about at three in the morning when he could have easily told me he was tired and wanted to go to bed. True leaders are there to listen to others no matter what.
  2. Empathy
    • Me – There was a girl I 12308243_970565349677486_4411004663380731200_n.jpgsaw eating alone in the cafeteria almost every day my first semester at college. I pictured her as myself and wondered how I would feel if I never had anyone to sit with and converse with about my day. One day I rounded up all of my food and took it over to her table and asked if I could eat with her. She said yes and I had a wonderful meal sitting there and talking to a new friend. It’s important to place ourselves in other people’s shoes to see what we would want. After that, we must work to make it happen.
    • Rachel Kremm – Rachel always goes out of her way to make sure people feel welcomed and appreciated. Also, her passion for veganism is so inspiring. She is so concerned with the treatment of animals and expresses the need for change. It is very obvious that she feels empathy for animals and would never want to be treated the way that they are before they are produce.
  3. Building Community
    • Me – I have worked in group projects where not everyone got along great. Collaboration is not only essential for receiving a good grade, but also for overall happiness. It was important for me to get everyone on the same level and see that we all had a common goal and that everyone was needed in the group for a reason. When those two things were realized, the group members actually started to get along and have fun working together, they just needed a mediator to help them realize it.
    • Gunther DeDamos – Gunther never fails to break any awkwardness that ever arises in a group of people. His energy and optimism are infectious and he has the potential to get any group of people to collaborate and work together. Gunther always makes sure people feel recognized and included, and invites anyone into his group to get to know those that he is around.

But Mom, I’m Not Ready To Come Home Yet

Transitioning from a high school with roughly 375 students to a university that has nearly 27,000 students enrolled on-campus and online was a bit of a culture shock to me. However I love being able to venture beyond my small town I call home and interact with new faces everyday. One of my favorite things in the whole entire world is meeting new people, and at college I am constantly doing that.

 

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I fell in love with Central Michigan University before I even moved into Barnes Hall at the beginning of the year. Every bit of my heart loves it here. The people are so friendly, as they always smile at me on my walk to class. There is never a moment when I feel unsafe walking around on the campus. One of my goals before next winter is to actually go out and explore campus at night! Along with so many new experiences, in a new atmosphere I have definitely grown as a person. When I first got to Central, I wanted to major in Recreation and Event Management. After taking the introductory course I realized that was not who I was and I had a little bit of a freak out moment. People are always saying that you don’t need to know your major until the end of your sophomore year, but I wanted to know so I could get going on my classes and not have to worry about picking a major later. I was so stressed out and did not know what to do. I was constantly calling my mom and sister asking them for advice and all I kept hearing was everything was going to be okay. And they were right, it was going to be okay, I was not going to die just because I couldn’t pick a major my first semester in college.

At the end of my first semester, I was really starting to learn to relax and let things work themselves out. My dad was a big contributor in teaching me that. He never wants to see me stress, and always reassures me that he will be there to catch me if I fall, but he knows I’m going to. Even though I did quite a bit of talking with my dad, I still wanted to consider majors. I knew I wanted a major that I would be interacting with other people a lot, so I talked to my GGG Mentor, who is a Leader Advancement Scholar and a Communications major, I figured out I wanted to take some Integrative Public Relations courses. At first when I started taking them, I was still unsure if that was what I wanted to do, but mid-semester I was assigned a paper about my dream job in pubic relations and was sold. One thing that I have ALWAYS been sure about was that I wanted to work in sports, specifically professional baseball. The job I chose to research was Coordinator of Community Relations for the Kansas City Royals and I fell in love. I ended up signing my major in the middle of second semester. My dad was right, everything eventually works itself out.

So how does this contribute to how I have grown as a leader? Not everything in life always turns out perfect. When life threw me a curve ball I got scared, but I’m in the process of learning how to ride out curb balls and trust that I will eventually make it into the glove. I’m beginning to place more trust in the environment that surrounds me and know that everything is going to be okay. I may wind up in situations where I have no clue what to do, and extra pressure will be added if others are looking up to me. As long as I stay cool, collected, and optimistic, the ride will be greatly reduced in stress. Along with that, I have also learned that I cannot sit around and do nothing because consequences will take a toll. I have learned the hard way that prioritization and time management are key elements in college. I was given an essay guideline a few weeks back and it was a research paper with a length requirement of 10 pages. Guess who stayed up until 3:30 AM last night and wrote more than half of the paper then? Yep, me. I should have scheduled time earlier in the week or toke a day off of working out so I would have more time to complete it, and earlier in the day. I would definitely advise my future self to work a little harder on making sure I have time to get stuff done before the night it is due. But the good news is at least I finished it!

I have definitely grown as a leader my first year of college by the way that in high school, I did things because I was getting some type of benefit out of it. Whether that be getting service hours, a good grade on a group project, or activities being put on a list of involvements. Now I do things because I want to do them for other people. I visit the assisted living home once a week and I am only required to stay there for an hour but I usually stay a little bit longer than that. I like talking to my adopted grandma and I know that she enjoys it when I visit her. Also, when I have time, I love volunteering at certain events Program Board puts on. I love knowing that I’m bringing entertainment and happiness into other student’s lives. None of this is required of me, I just simply enjoy it and look forward to it. I have learned to put my efforts towards passions because the value that comes out of it will be so much more valuable. I’ve also learned that when working with others, it is important to give my undivided attention to those I are serving, helping out, or working with. To get respect I have to give respect and at school I have seen so many people act in disrespectful ways that it makes me want to be that much better of a person when interacting with others. Plus, those who give respect usually end up working more efficiently with their team and have a more enjoyable time doing it because the atmosphere is way more welcoming.

Overall one of the biggest takeaways this year for me was the relationships I have built with other people. Without the support of all of my family, friends, and faculty I have gotten to know here, college would have been extremely stressful and scary to me. I have learned it is okay to admit I need guidance from others. I’ve also learned to be the light for others when they are lost and I can help.

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