The bigger and badder LDR 100; LDR 200. This was the second course I’ve taken with my LAS cohort of the year and yes it has leadership written all over it. The goal of this course was to give us a better understanding of theoretical, philosophical, and conceptual foundations of leadership. OR, for a less boring way to put it – demonstrating and assessing our own leadership skills and techniques!

LDR 200 was probably the most beneficial and engaging course of the semester (despite the fact that it was a 3 hour long class). I found myself really connecting with the material and ideas. Most of the course was made up of class discussion, workshops, and exercises. What I found most beneficial about this course was that it actually gave me multiple opportunities to facilitate and lead activities. Leading my classmates through discussions, exercises, and debriefs has prepared me for future leadership roles such as a Leadership Safari Guide, a position I’ll be holding for the 2017-2018 year. Having this experience has boosted my confidence and skill in leading others through situations in order to solve a problem or reach a goal.

While facilitating, I have learned to be:

  1. Engaged in the activity and have an enthusiastic attitude
  2. Aware of the audience and what they are expecting
  3. Flexible during the “unexpected”
  4. Focused on the participants and the goals of the group
  5. Confident as the expert

Another favorite moment of LDR 200 was the topic of our why statement. The assignment was to watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and to come up with our own statement. I dedicated an entire blog about this (read it here) but to sum it up, Sinek described his theory that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” In order to inspire others to take action, I must have my own why statement: “Inspire others to choose optimism and promote positivity.” The reason for who I am and what I do is to help others find their happiness. I believe this is something that should be talked about more often because in order to be a successful and effective leader in any role you must know why you’re doing what you’re doing. This theory has definitely changed the way I look at my purpose in life and my identity as a leader.

My professor really pushed us to dig deep and self reflect during this course. Her goal was for us to understand ourselves better and assess our philosophy, passions, skills, and goals. I’m not sure I have ever been this self aware in my life! There were definitely some tough subjects to think and write about but I believe in order to help others find themselves you must find yourself first. I know it’s cliché but it’s true! Now that I understand my purpose, my reasoning, my strengths and weaknesses, I am able to understand how to effectively serve others.

Let us not forget the highlight of LDR 200: LAS-in-the-D! If you haven’t already, I suggest checking out my blog about this amazing service trip. Our entire cohort took a trip to Detroit, MI and immersed ourselves in the culture and history of the motor city. The weekend was all about servant leadership and exploring the new opportunities of Detroit. My biggest learning outcome from the trip was that we are socially responsible as leaders to serve our communities and demonstrate different types of service through the corporate and the community lenses.

LDR 200 was a great way to end my first year of being a part of CMU’s Leadership Institute. It provided me with valuable experiences, skills, and insights that propelled me even further as a leader. Lastly, S/O to the famous Jesi Ekonen for being an inspirational leader and professor, this course would not have been nearly as effective and beneficial without her expertise.

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