Throughout this semester, I have sat through several incredible leadership lectures. Here are a few that I think are worth sharing.
In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about my experience at Connections Conference and the sessions I attended there. When we first got there we received a booklet detailing the different sessions we could sit in on and I remember one specific lecture that caught my eye; “Rooted in Growth: Mentoring Peers in Your Community”. This sparked my interest because in just a short amount of time I will have a mentee of my own. Growing up with two older sisters and being the youngest in my family, I know what good mentorship looks like, but I don’t exactly know how to create it. This session was super beneficial because unlike others, we actually got to act out different scenarios of good and bad mentorship. With a partner we took turns being the mentor and the mentee and for each simulation we practiced how a good mentor would react and how bad mentor would react. The goal was to act out all four qualities of effective mentorship: balance talking and listening, offer support and challenge, have meaningful and authentic conversations, and give constructive criticism and feedback. Often times I try to fix the problem that a friend has brought to me instead of sitting back and just listening. After the mentor has listened to all that the mentee has to say and it’s time to offer support and challenge to the mentee it’s best to look at their priorities, ask leading questions like “What do you think you should do?”, and put yourself in their shoes. Having meaningful and authentic conversations means learning how to let your guard down and dig deep. When developing a relationship it’s important to be personal with the other person getting to know their fears and aspirations and to always tell the truth even if it’s the hard truth. I learned that in the beginning of the relationship an expectation of feedback needs to be established between the mentor and the mentee. It is important to know what the mentee wants; whether it’s someone to just listen or someone to offer advice. The mentor should make sure she is not talking about herself and her problems and instead focus on the mentee and what they need. Learning about the qualities of being a successful mentor has prepared me to lead my peers within my communities on and off campus.
A couple months ago, I attended a conference in northern Kentucky called National Association of Campus Activities, NACA, with an RSO here on campus. It was one of the most fun weekends I’ve had so far and I made so many new friends while there. Similar to Connections Conference, NACA also provided sessions to attend during the day, one being “How to Succeed at Student Leadership without Trying”. Most of the participants who attended this conference held a position on their Program Board’s Executive Board, but as for me, I had the opportunity to attend as a member. Eventually, I plan on running for an E-Board position for CMU’s Program Board and until then I want to gain as much knowledge and experience of programming campus activities while holding a leadership postion. In this session we discussed important qualities of student leaders specifically in programming organizations. As a leader of a team, you must know how to maintain strength through organizational transitions. This could be new policies, new authorities, or new technology, but in the midst of it all the leader should keep the entire team strong. Maintaining student voice in advisor relationships is key to effective student leadership. For most of the time, it is the president of the organization’s responsibility to make sure the entire organization’s voice is heard. That message gets relayed from the president to the advisor of the organization which is why it is so important to maintain that relationship. In order for things to get done successfully, healthy relationships between all authority figures must be sustained. We also discussed the basics of delegation and how to work in harmony. Leader’s should keep a macromanagement mindset when delegating tasks to the team. It’s okay to guide them in the right direction and take a step back to give them more responsibility but it’s not okay to constantly look over their shoulders and force too much control on the team members. This session helped me visualize what a good leader for CMU’s Program Board would look like and how I can adapt myself for the needs of the team.
In my Introduction to Leadership course, our professor invited CMU’s very own Women’s Soccer coach and team captains. Kaylin Hoomaian and Christen Chiesa spoke about their different leadership styles as team captains and how they apply them on and off the field. I have never been a part of a sports team before so I thought it was super interesting to hear how leadership is used in athletics. Kaylin described how she handles issues within the team and how she keeps her teammates focused, motivated, and strong. Typically she takes a more subtle approach by talking one on one with her teammates and focusing on developing relationships with each and every one by showing interest in their well being. Kaylin is most effective in sensitive situations that require patience and consideration. On the other hand, Christen is a much more vocal and direct leader. She is most effective in a crisis where action and quick decisions are needed. She is bold, confident, and assertive when communicating to her teammates. Christen is able to take charge and use her energy to get her teammates motivated. I think I relate to Kaylin’s leadership style most because I tend to take my time making sure my team’s needs are being met and prefer structure and detail when making a decision. I would like to implement Christen’s boldness and assertiveness when leading my team because I tend to lack in those areas. Both of the girls and the coach gave us so much advice of how to use our leadership styles effectively within our teams.