Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Listening, Networking and the Leadership Compass

I started my morning with breakfast at the beloved Ratty. Our reading assignments the night before had been so long and extensive that I was functioning on an unsatisfactory amount of sleep. I find it amazing how college students are able to balance it all: I am taking only one class and the intensity is so palpable.

I had a workshop in Salomon Hall in place of the usual first half of class, which was once again being lead by the lovely Kisa Takesue. Here, the Leadership Institute was told that effective listening skills are imperative to being an effective leader. We engaged in multiple exercises with a partner that
Some notes from the morning workshop.
required us to use techniques in order to convey understanding and facilitate clarification between two people. This was specifically applied to situations in which two people are discussing opposing view points, but can be utilized in every situation that integrates listening to another person. I was surprised by how civil the discussions were. Ms. Takesue pointed out that approaching another opinion with the intent of debating it can lead to a certain depersonalization and much more reactive opponents.

After lunch I went to the V-Dub with Lauren, Sara, Aimee, and Krystal. Of course, we discussed social issues (not just related to feminism) and remarked over how disappointing the current state of
Lauren's awesome waffle and chocolate ice cream from the V-Dub.
affairs is. Since Women and Leadership has begun, we've all bonded over our shared opinions and feelings, and I love spending time with them.

We entered the classroom at 1:00 PM per usual, and for the first third of the session reflected on the reading we had done the night before. I found that I agreed with almost all of what everyone had shared out, and was happy about the fact that everyone was open to critiquing the authors even if they were in alliance with some of their opinions.

Tina announced that we were going to have a networking event with some of Brown's female staff to practice important skills that we would need in the future, and to provide us with the opportunity to meet a group of female leaders.

We were led to The Underground Coffee Co., a coffee shop nestled beneath Student Services. There, a large and diverse group of women awaited our introductions. We were to introduce ourselves, converse, and then ask for any contact information if we wanted it.

I met so many amazing women during that time. I asked every single one of the women if they loved their jobs and what they loved most about them. They all responded that they adored their work and especially enjoyed collaborating with students.

A problem at my school is that student stratification is very prevalent, which I believe stunts any growth that the institution could experience. I was able to get the contact information of the Assistant Director of International Student and Visitor Experience, and the business card of the Assistant Dean for Student Life and Director of Accessibility services. I hope to ask for advice in integrating international and/or disabled students more into El Cerrito High School's student body, because I believe they not only deserve to be acknowledge and appreciated but also can provide important, unique perspectives on an array of things.

We had another workshop to attend half an hour after the networking ended. I walked to the designated room in the Center for Information Technology with Aimee, Lauren, and Sara. Christine and Skenda, my Residential Advisor, were going to lead a workshop on four different leadership styles. The North style favors assertiveness, initiative, and action and loves challenges. In opposition to this style, the South type favors a more emotionally-orientated, team-based, and morally sound form of leadership. The West type is dependable, logical, and will view all sides to a problem. Meanwhile, the East style of leadership is oriented towards the big picture, abstract creativity, and an open-mindedness on different ideas.

The activity officially began when we were told to stand relative to what we thought which leadership style(s) we utilized the most and then share out why. Posters on each wall had one of the four leadership forms, and according to our answer, we would situate ourselves in the proper area. I placed myself in the Northeast corner of the room because I believed I have a huge affinity for abstract concepts and tend to have the most creative ideas at the last moment (consciousness of time is not something that naturally occurs in the East type), but can also take the initiative and be assertive to get what I really want. A challenging and creative project is probably one of the best ways to engage me in a topic, as well.

We were then given situations in which a leadership style needed to be chosen. I noticed that people rarely ever chose the East as a suitable answer, and during the reflective period I was told that this was because it would be riskier for women to appear that radical; essentially, appearing unstructured and unconventional to that extent as a group of people already seen as unable to handle responsibility was a gamble.

I agreed and pointed out that the reason why people gravitated to the North most of the time was because it was a set of characteristics typically associated with men. That is, women often adopt the same traits because they have observed the correlation between them and power.

I realized by the end of the reflective period that I was more so the East than the North. I focus a lot on the future and love exploring new things (be it places, concepts, people, or activities), but get so caught up in making connections between everything that I become distracted and burn myself out.

We had one last activity: choose the one leadership style that applies to you the most and then create a skit that exaggerated the traits of that style. I ended up being alone by the East, before Christine had a few others that somewhat identified with the style go and help me.

The skits were absolutely hilarious. After they were completed, each group then had to explain how the process in making the skit was like. The process demonstrated the leadership styles just as much as the skits themselves!

I drew a greater understanding of myself after this activity. I wasn't afraid or offended by being the only one who more naturally gravitated to this particular style. The workshop demonstrated that a single method can typically become ineffective, and that we all had a strong sense of the other forms of leadership.

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