I recently volunteered to spend a weekend with our Leadership Center and over 300 students for the Fall Leadership retreat at my institution where we take students to a campground and teach them a bit about leadership. This year’s theme was about resilience, and after spending a weekend learning, taking time to think about my educational journey, and how I have become the leader I am today, I am definitely glad I volunteered for this retreat.
Leadership Retreat this year was very thought provoking, especially since I know almost everyone has a tale or two about being resilient in the face of adversity. The students and staff were able to hear from our very own University President and Vice-President for Student Affairs, and it got me thinking about leaders who have helped shape me into the leader I am today. After the retreat, I had to do a leadership style quiz for my Leadership Theory class. (If you are interested in finding out your leadership style, click here to take the quiz! Don’t hesitate to tweet me your results.) My results said Participative Leadership is my predominate style. With this style, I “accept input from one or more group members when making decisions and solving problems, but the leader retains the final say when choices are made. Group members tend to be encouraged and motivated by this style of leadership. This style of leadership often leads to more effective and accurate decisions, since no leader can be an expert in all areas. Input from group members with specialized knowledge and expertise creates a more complete basis for decision-making” (About.com: Psychology, 2015). With my Parent Mavericks team, this is me. I want my team to be encouraged to utilize their skills and work on skills they would like to develop.
Afterwards, I realized a few of my mentors taught me this style. In Residence Life, Craig B. would ask questions to get me thinking. Why did I want to do that? How was I going to go about making that happen? He led me to a solid solution that I thought would work, not necessarily what he thought would work. As a NASPA Fellow, my mentor Courtney W. used the same approach for all the Fellows when we were tasked with certain group projects. I took the approach Craig and Courtney taught me with my Desk Assistants (DAs) when I became a Desk Manager. My DAs would come to me with issues and I would talk it out with them and encourage them to come up with solutions on their own and only stepped in for final decisions or if I really had to for time. I was cognizant that I was “in charge,” but I was not a dictator who just made decisions with no regard for anyone else.
Another lesson I learned that really speaks to my leadership style is that sometimes, you just have to take charge. As a leader, or someone in a leadership role, you just have to lead. I have a dream of being a Vice-President of Student Affairs (VPSA), so I try to have conversations with current VPSA’s. In some of these conversations, I am told of a time when he/she had to just go forth and lead because there was no time to sit and discuss because decisions needed to be made ASAP. As much as they want to consult their team and discuss what is best, they couldn’t, but that’s why they are in that position. They have the experience to take the reins and lead their team. It’s one thing to be able to lead a team, but you can never forget yourself. In my opinion, it’s in crisis times that it can be hard to lead yourself. One VPSA that I look up to really values being able to lead yourself.
All of these lessons and much more are what I thought about throughout the retreat because we talked about being a leader and handling failure to bounce back when adversity knocked. What is interesting is how different people go about leading themselves and show resilience. So, I end this post with a question: how do you remain resilient in leadership?