Meeting with my LAS cohort every Wednesday for 3 joyous hours to study leadership is honestly one of the highlights of my week. As much as I thought I would have a negative attitude towards it since I have a hard time focusing in the evenings past a certain point, I have been able to get to know members of my cohort in ways I never thought I would. In addition to opening up to my peers, LDR 200 has also educated my class and myself on so many different ways of presenting leadership strategies, philosophies, and concepts.
One of our first assignments in LDR 200 was to create an initiative with a group or two or three people. As many groups in my cohort successfully presented ice breakers and collaborative activities to relate them to topics like inclusiveness, or communication skills, my group and I interpreted this topic a bit differently. With our topic being goal-setting, we decided it would be an efficient idea to create a calendar with goals pertaining to different aspects of your life for each month. For example, January was a family-oriented goal, February was an academic-oriented goal, and so on. This was a silent activity for reasons that we gave the students time to truly reflect on what they could be doing in their individual lives that they would like to achieve. Our overall message was that writing little goals down and sticking to them, create the bigger goals that you want to complete throughout your life.
Between assignments, our class was given the opportunity to dig a little deeper into our passions and our beliefs to discover our “Why” statement. As I have already written an article about this, I will just give a brief reiteration of the concept. “Discovering your Why” originated from a TED Talk video we watched as a class. The video described the Golden Circle. This Golden Circle consisted of three rings: Why being in the middle, how being second, and what being the third on the outside. The circle tells you to start with why. Starting with why essentially means to look at why you are doing what you’re doing and if it is not effective to your how’s and your what’s. This opportunity allowed us to expand our knowledge on our peers and their passions and beliefs, as well as ourselves and our own passions and beliefs.
During this time, my cohort and I were also assigned a Leadership Philosophy paper. This task was one that I hold near and dear to my heart because, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I absolutely love hearing people talk about what they are passionate about. Typing my philosophy I really focused on a few main points of focus and that is communication, collaboration, organization, patience, and kindness. Reflecting on my own philosophy of leadership and hearing other students philosophies was something that was really important to me as a student leader. This assignment assisted me in discovering other student’s mindset and outlook on how they lead in their everyday lives. I really enjoyed reflecting on everyone’s different opinions and lifestyles as a leader.
The next assignment required a bit more time and research than the last. Placed in larger groups of about four or five people, each group was assignment a leadership philosophy to present to the class for a longer amount of time. These philosophies were based off of a book that explained these theories. My group and I were given the Social Change Model to present. The Social Change Model is essentially a chart focusing on the three main aspects of a group, an individual, and society. In a group, the Social Change Model puts emphasis on collaboration and interaction between group and the individual. As for the individual, the model advocates the development of personal qualities, self-awareness, and personal values. In society, this concept assists bringing out the change for the common good. My group and I created a game within our presentation called Lost at Sea where each group had to come together to make decisions of their priorities they would use in a list of supplies they had on a boat while they are lost at sea. This activity went smoothly overall, and the presentations were all so different and creative it made it easy to remember them for the exam.
Our class is now in the process of transitioning from mentees to mentors, which is an absolute honor and tradition. Each year, the freshmen becoming sophomores have the opportunity to choose a member of the incoming freshmen class to be their “mentee.” The mentee/mentor process is usually pretty dramatic and intense, however, I believe that my class has been very kind and generous to each other throughout our decision making thus far. Through the course of many meetings, class trainings, and side conversations to determine who will fit best for who, I truly do think that next year’s LAS cohort will be well cared for and have plenty of resources to go to if need be, as we are essentially mentoring each of them.
Overall, LDR 200 has taught me many things about my cohort and about myself as a leader. I have experienced group work focusing on different aspects of leadership giving be a better understanding characteristics of a leader. I have studied different theories of leadership, giving me a better understanding of the ways that others lead and process situations compared to myself. I have come up with my Why statement and have helped others find theirs through digging a little deeper into my passions and beliefs that I have compared to others. I have identified my philosophy as a leader and got the opportunity to hear from others about their own, allowing me to understand and appreciate the theories my peers have towards leadership. Lastly, I have come to the conclusion that my cohort has truly allowed ourselves to utilize all of this knowledge on communication and collaboration throughout our mentee/mentor process that we essentially completed on our own time and through our own responsibility. I am so proud of how far my cohort and I have come as we have truly watched each other grow as leaders just by spending one year together in Barnes Hall and as active members of the Leadership Institute here at CMU for the next three years we have left.