This year as a part of both the Leadership Minor and LAS Protocol, my cohort and I took Leadership 200L Introduction to Leadership. In class, each one of us was placed into two separate groups – one for facilitating an initiative, and the other for presenting a workshop to the class. This class taught me many things from how to effectively and confidently facilitate activities to a variety of leadership theories that are very practical and applicable in my everyday life. Through this class, I learned more about myself and my personal style as a leader, as well as how to adapt to the needs of others and put others before myself.
I was a part of the Communication Initiative, along with three of my classmates. During our initiative, we created a two-part activity for the class to participate in. For the first part, we informed the class that they were all passengers on the titanic, which was beginning to sink. The lifeboats needed to be filled according to the passengers’ birthdays, however the alarms were too loud to hear over, so everyone had to line up accordingly without talking before the ship sank. After this, we jumped right into our second activity which consisted of explaining to the class that they were all committee heads from all over the world for the upcoming Olympics. Everything was going according to plan, until disaster stuck and all of the translators got sick at the last minute, so no replacements were ready to take over. But the Olympics must still go on, so each person was given the challenge of effectively describing the sport that they wanted to be in the next Olympics and form groups with others who were also communicating that they wanted that sport to be in the Olympics as well. The activities were then followed by a debriefing session that focused on the challenges that can arise from communication barriers and how to overcome them, as well as the importance of effective communication in just about any situation that we encounter – both verbally and nonverbally.
I also was a part of a workshop group that presented the Path-Goal Leadership Theory to the class. The Path-Goal Leadership Theory first appeared in leadership literature in the early 1970s in the main works of Robert J. House, and is primarily about how leaders motivate followers to accomplish designated goals. The goal of this leadership theory is to enhance follower performance and follower satisfaction by focusing on follower motivation through defining goals, clarifying paths, removing obstacles, and providing support. We also touched on the four different kinds of leadership as mentioned by the theory: Direct, Supportive, Achievement-Oriented, and Participative. During the workshop, we facilitated an activity for the class called “Pin the Trait on the Leader” which focused on each of these types of leadership styles by dividing the class into groups and providing them with a list of leadership characteristics and asking each group to place the characteristic on a picture hung around the room. We then followed up with a debriefing session explaining that there was no one style that was better than another, but that depending on the situation it is important to be able to recognize what the needs of the followers are and how to best adapt in that situation in order to accomplish the designated goal by putting the followers first.
This class has helped me to become a more effective leader because it not only made me more aware of my myself and my personal leadership style, but it also helped me to understand that in my everyday life I need to be continuously aware and mindful of what others’ needs are. This will allow me to adapt my personal style in the future so that I will be better equipped to handle any situation, whether it seems to be something small that is relatively easy to handle, or a situation that may present challenges. Moving forward, I will use what I have learned about leadership by applying it to my everyday life on both a small and a large scale, because what I have learned is not only very relevant to me and my will be useful within my involvements, but it is also very practical, and I am aware that these skills will benefit me both now and later on in life as I continue to grow as a leader.