Situational Leadership: Applied Theory

I am a student in LAS. That may give me something in common with a few hundred students on campus right now, but not every leader is acting in the same interest (especially on one campus). Leadership is often looked at as a singular trait or feature in a person.

Oh he was just born a leader.”

“That’s what makes a good leader.”

“You have to step up and be the leader.”

Leadership takes on many faces and forms. It is flexible and fluid just as any day in this world. It is ever changing. Leadership can be both commanding and supportive in the same day and depend primarily on the situation. Situational Leadership Theory focuses on the adaptation of various leadership skills to effectively handle a specific situation. This theory works under the assumptions that the leader has the ability to read a situation and adapt their skills for the best, and that they will do so if they can.

skating
I was shocked when I was asked to dress as Jimmy MacElroy from Blades of Glory to entertain my cohort. 

Being in LAS has provided me with many opportunities for personal growth. The one thing that challenges me the most is being put into leadership positions that I have not yet experienced. Considering this is my first year away from home, things were already pretty uncomfortable to begin with. If I weren’t in LAS there would have been far too much free time on my hands. We do so many amazing things together as a cohort (required or not). If it weren’t for LAS, I could have spent far too much time letting my leadership skills wither and rust as I watched Netflix for hours.

I gain important experience through leading in very different situations. Without change and flux, a stationary leader doesn’t improve. Daily life changes and our futures are never set in stone so it is extremely important to have the ability to adapt. We can’t rely on just the depth of our leadership skills, there must be breadth as well to offer us wisdom in leadership situations to come.

Retreating From the Front Lines to the Back Woods

Preparing for finals is the best time to reflect on the things that helped you through the semester so far. Think about what made you feel uncomfortable and what you did to feel at home again. For me, many struggles appear outside of the realm of classes. I would occasionally feel down about my involvement and not finding a club that I felt I belonged in. This often came with the reminder that having a job really gets in the way of being able to learn more about and spend time with those in my cohort.

angie and I
My mentor, Angie (wearing maroon), and I (wearing gold), getting ready to climb high ropes.

For this, I try to look back on the mentor and mentee retreat that the Leader Advancement Scholars of first and second year students went on. Each incoming freshmen gets and mentor (from the sophomore class) and sometimes a mentor gets two mentees. We go on a retreat in the beginning of the fall that brings together mentor and mentee as well as the two classes as a whole.

Unfortunately, my mentor couldn’t be there until late night on the first day. My friend, Derek, and his mentor, Garrett, made sure that I was able to work with them for group activities. Although another group could have done this, they were considerate enough to be the first to offer to take me into their group. I had my first sense of belonging since coming to school with all of LAS. I was fortunate that I didn’t need someone assigned to me to make me feel more comfortable. I love my mentor so much, but since she couldn’t be there, I felt so lucky to have friends already. retreat2

After some intense mind games and even some physically challenging games, we had time to relax. And by relax, I mean play basketball, volleyball, gagaball, and go for a walk. During this time, I talked with some mentors and mentees that I hadn’t gotten much of a chance to before. Somehow, by the magic of the retreat, we even turned into what student’s here like to call a “cuddle puddle”. The appreciation I feel for those sort of moments don’t come immediately.

mentors
“cuddle puddle”

Some time later is when realize the importance of these simple moments.

When night fell, over 90 LAS students gathered around a large fire. Despite my nerves for fitting in and being understood, I found myself comfortable. Around the fire, I could make out individual faces that were warmly lit by orange colors in the dark, cold, blue night air. Student began telling stories. No matter who it was, every other person at the fire listened intently. It was as if everything that came out of a person’s mouth fueled our gradually kindled spirits.

Out of all the social situations I have been in, I had never seen anything like it. After sharing a fun story, or something that we were thankful for about LAS members, we were encouraged to find specific people who have impacted us so far. Once we find each person, we thanked them for something that they have done for us. In my case, I thanked people for the things they had done with me. For me, shared experiences become more than just memories. These times become sources of growth and mutual understanding between hearts and minds. This is important in true connections which gave me all the more reason to be thankful and tell friends.

That night, everyone moved their beds out of their bunks and into the common room of the cabin. Small beds covered the floor where everyone slept in the warmth and comfort of old and new found friendships.

retreat
My mentor and I with my roommates and their mentors.

Mind Games and Motivation

Psychology was difficult. Maybe not for everyone, but it was certainly hard for me. I felt like I was learning another language, quickly having to apply it, and work with it based off of slightly educated guessing. Our professor told lame jokes quite often and gave us lots of online homework every week. I enjoy getting A’s on my assignments and doing well in a class. In PSY100L, I didn’t do too hot. I got about a B- average because of my incapable brain.

change situation
Useful advice

Psychology was fun and interesting. Maybe not for everyone, but it was certainly intriguing for me. I felt like I was learning useful leadership information and quickly being able to apply it based off of examples from class. Our professor stopped talking just to answer questions quite often and helped us to understand online homework every week. I enjoy feeling like I can understand people better and doing well with my classmates. In PSY100L, I struggled to get better grades. I got about a B- average despite the lack of experience I have with psychology.

Psychology was hard for me and I am proud of my final exam score!

Screenshot 2015-12-11 11.46.44
105 out of 120 = 87.5%

 

Leadership Safari: College Students in their Unnatural Habitat

Here at Central Michigan University, something occurs that challenges the natural conformity of the species I call my own. We, animals, are called college students. A special event was formulated to dissect, analyze, and contemplate what behavior is versus what should be considered “normal” for my kind. This week-long event enables us to step outside of what we’ve known for so long. It goes against all the tendencies that most on-campus students follow blindly. It’s a scary, loud, no-sleep-because-you-have-to-keep-dancing kind of trial; it is Leadership Safari.safari

As far as Leadership related events go, I considered myself a veteran. I thought I had seen it all after going to 5 training events each year (on average) throughout my high school career. Going into Leadership Safari, I expected all the same exercises with the only differences being the places and the
faces. So color me maroon and gold and call me an average teenager because, well, I was wrong. Safari was, admittedly, challenging to myself and other so-called veterans.  Some of the activities were very close to what I had done before, but even so, it was on a completely new level. The large-scale of Safari changed even the last day of safarimost basic of games. I absolutely loved all of my past experience however, that fateful week felt most relevant to reaching for a future that I am really digging. I developed family strong bonds with people I considered strangers just a few days before. I made connections to people who can help and guide me for the next four years, and maybe even for a lifetime. I discovered that, with each day, there will be new and exciting challenges that will propel me toward my goals. I realized that I am making an impact today and not just in the wonderland that is called tomorrow. But most of all, I found my place in this world is wherever I can be at my best. A song I dearly enjoy says, “They all say that home’s where the heart is and I’d know ’cause I’ve tried my hardest just to see if I left it behind but it was with me the whole time” (Alive In Standby). Because of the many feels and my constant, unstoppable, desire to connect with more leadership opportunities, I am going to apply to become a Safari guide during my time here at CMU.

There is an atmosphere here that is completely unique to our campus. I never walk to a class or to work without waving hello to several encouraging individuals. Central constantly attracts and provides you with people who you can always lean on when you need them. This environment is the healthiest habitat for my species. I am proud to say that I went to Leadership Safari because it is what helps to create this beautiful ecosystem I call home. 

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