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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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.

 

Adopt-A-Grandparent

Three semesters ago, I started visiting Maplewood Assisted Living Home once a week to see my adopted-grandmother. I got involved with the program when my biological grandmother went to an assisted living home for a short period of time due to a hip injury. I went home to visit her and realized how bored she was. Even with all of my family going to see her, I still wished she had more people to visit her. After returning to campus, I heard about the Adopt-A-Grandparent program and immediately wanted to join. After being accepted into the program, I was paired with an amazing adopted-grandmother!

I have been visiting my adopted-grandmother for three semesters now.  We always talk, do puzzles, and a month before Christmas break, she started to teach me how to knit. Let me tell you, it is way more difficult than it looks. Right now I’m making a dish rag that was originally going to be a part of my mother’s Christmas present, but now I’m aiming to have it done by Mother’s Day (you will receive it eventually, mom. I love you). I have messed up so many times and my adopted-grandmother has had to take a few rows out and fix my mistakes. But hey, as humans we learn through our mistakes, so each time I have to redo a row I know I’m getting that much closer to getting the hang of it. It is always fun to go and sit with my grandparent and knit. We also really enjoy doing the puzzles together. They are super relaxing and a good way to exercise the brain. I even did one over the summer at my house because I learned I enjoy doing them so much.

Over the past three semesters, I have really grown close with my grandparent. She is definitely a mentor in my life and I have learned so much from her. I have gone to her for advice, laughs, and support. She is such a caring individual and I really do see her as family. I have spent over 30 hours visiting my adopted-grandmother this school year, but I really do not think 30 is enough. Next year, it is my goal to shoot for 40 hours. It is hard finding time being a college student, but it is so rewarding and fun to go visit my grandparent. Plus, I will have a car on campus next year and can use the time I would normally spend walking as extra time visiting. I love visiting her and I plan on being a part of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program until I graduate. I also highly encourage everyone to get involved and apply to become a co-mentor for the program because it truly is a wonderful experience that I have grown so much from. To my adopted-grandmother, if you are reading this, thank you for being the best adopted-grandparent I could ask for!AdoptaGrandparentLogo maroon-gold WEB

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.