Leadership Development, Leadership Education, Leadership Training

Igniting the Spark

As a requirement for our LAS Scholarship, our 2016 cohort needed to attend the Spark Leadership conference. Not knowing what exactly this conference would entail, I was pretty excited for it.

I walked into the ballroom in the LI, picked up my name tag, and sat at a table with a few people from my LAS cohort and a few others that I hadn’t met before. Also sitting at the table was a staff member of Spark, otherwise known as a team leader. After being called up and introduced to all of the people participating in Spark, the team leaders switched tables, and my table got the pleasure of working with Connor Haskins.

The first activity on the agenda was finding out our own personal leadership styles- something I was very interested in. The four different types of leaders were Systematic, Spirited, Considerate, and Direct. After ranking a series of activities from 1 to 5, I found out that I was a Spirited leader.

After learning about what type of leader we all were, we broke into different groups pertaining to our own leadership styles. I went into the Spirited group, and we all discussed why we were categorized into Spirited leaders and what characteristics we all exemplified. Some of these characteristics were that we were all super positive, very outgoing, we encouraged others, and we like to be outside of our comfort zones. After going back to our tables, we chose what leadership style we wanted to improve on. I chose Systematic, because I’d like to be more organized and want to step back and think about things more before going ahead and doing them.

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Photo by the Leadership Institute

Later, we were separated into different classrooms and were put into two groups: Alphas and Betas. I was an Alpha, and we were required to participate in a game. The rules of the Alpha culture were that we had to embrace in a hug or pat someone on the back before speaking to someone, we had to ask about the men in that person’s life, and we were then able to participate in a card game. The Betas would come over to our Alpha classroom to observe our behavior, and we would always kick them out.

After debriefing our activity, we learned that everyone gets treated differently and sometimes you have to take a step back and realize that we aren’t all the same. You could be saying or doing something offensive without even noticing, and we need to realize that everyone is different.

Now What? I got a lot out of Spark, and-despite having strep throat and wanting to be curled up in bed- I really enjoyed the conference. I learned that I am a Spirited leader, and I now know how to help out when it comes to leadership activities and now know what to contribute. I am excited to take the steps towards becoming a more Systematic leader by organizing all of my things into folders, color coding my notes that I take in class, thinking about and analyzing my actions before taking them, and participating in many more leadership conferences.

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Leadership Development, Uncategorized

Leadership Lecture: The Dirty Dozen

As shown in a previous post, I attended a conference at Great Wolf Lodge with my LAS Cohort and some amazing staff members. This conference was the 2016 Connections conference, and it exposed us to many ideas, taught us useful skills that we could bring back to CMU, and helped us make new friends.

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One of the sessions I attended at Connections was titled, “The Dirty Dozen.” This was an interactive lecture presented by the lovely Erin Smith-Gaken. In this session, Erin told us all about the twelve ways we justify our bad behavior. She gave us remotes to use during the session, and she put up a powerpoint and had us enter in our answers to the questions she was asking us. For example, Erin asked the question, “If you went into a grocery store and realized-as you were unloading the cart into your car-that you forgot to ring up a Vitamin Water, would you go back inside and tell someone?” We all entered our answers into the powerpoint, and she showed us the results. Most people said that they would not go back in and would just continue unloading the cart, while a small percentage of people said that they would go back in the grocery store and pay for the Vitamin Water.

Now What? This survey made me really stop and think about things. First off, not paying for the drink is stealing- but we would justify the fact that we “stole” the Vitamin Water by saying that we already left the store, and that it is too much of a hassle to go back inside. Second, I realized that our minds try to get us to rationalize anything that we do with logical reasons so we don’t feel bad about what we’ve done. Erin told us the top twelve ways that we rationalize our mistakes, and it was crazy that almost everyone could relate to most, if not all of them. It made me realize that sometimes I need to take a step back and understand that it is okay to make mistakes, because everyone is human. Heck, making mistakes makes us human, and we need to learn to accept them rather than try to justify them so we don’t look bad. I really connected with this session, and I even find myself (to this day) thinking about The Dirty Dozen.