Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things You'll Find On The Island, Part II

My good friend Rose recently posted an article from a Forbes author on her Facebook, and I quickly became a huge fan of the article and some of his other writing. Given how much I love writing about leadership, I felt I had to post these. They're better if you're fans of Star Wars and Star Trek, but still poignant. I may have to actually start watching Star Trek in order to better understand the anecdotal references.

Two different types of leaders:
Five Leadership Lessons From Jean-Luc Picard

Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk

And for the organizations:
Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire

Also, check out some of the new blogs I've added to "Other Islands You Should Visit." The A+M Blog stirs up some great friendly controversy, my good friend Aaron's blog is incredibly thought-provoking (lately, I've been contemplating Why I Blog and PS To Why I Blog...), his other Reinard Family blog is going to be a great look at the journey he and his family take in adopting their third child, and The Family Berzurcher is the insight into the amazing mind of my good friend, former bandmate, and all-around inspiration, Matt Zurcher, as he explores cinema, television, music, and more.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Importance of Rounds 2 and 3

     So I was recently given the honor of presenting an award at the Pillars of Leadership Awards Ceremony at UB. It's basically a ceremony built to gather all of the award-winning leaders from organizations all around campus, and recognize them for their contributions to their organizations. I enjoy this ceremony, it's a great opportunity to interact with many other campus leaders. I am always inspired by these leaders - my fellow students - some of whom I don't see anymore except for at this ceremony, and I am happy to get the opportunity to talk to them about their latest endeavors.
     In one such conversation, a girl was discussing the decision she was facing in returning to one of her organizations for a third year in a row, and whether or not it would be worth her time and effort. She asked me about it because that was a decision I had faced with the Residence Hall Association as an undergrad. I advised her by asking the questions I was asked by my advisor back when I was in the same situation. She was grateful for my advice, but I wanted to expand on the points I'd made, in general just to organize my thoughts - part of why I blog. The questions are as follows:

  1. What will I learn from this? Will it be good for me?
  2. What impact can I leave directly on others by my involvement?
  3. What impact can I leave on the organization? What difference can I make?
     The first question seems selfish, but it's a very important point. Even the most righteous and self-sacrificing leaders (at least, the ones who aren't divine) are human at the core, and thus have human emotions that need to be taken care of. If we live and die by those you lead, or those we are to care for, then that can wreak havoc on our minds, and drive us insane (see my previous blog post about holding on loosely). In addition, no matter at what age, a part of us needs to keep the attitude of "student leader." Every leadership opportunity is a learning experience, and we need to see it as such - when we stop learning from it, we need to re-evaluate our position and a) whether we're fulfilling its potential, and b) whether that position is still right for us. I say that knowing full well that I'm only 23 and haven't held any particular leadership position for longer than 5 years. But I'd like to try to keep that attitude throughout my life's work.
    The second question can be slightly selfish if you do it for the wrong reasons. We don't generally go into a position seeking to directly leave an impact on someone else. We don't plan to be someone's confidante if we aren't already, and we don't plan to directly influence someone by our actions. But it can happen, and we must make sure that our actions are such that when people notice them (and believe me, when returning to a position for the second or third time, people will notice), they make a positive impact on those around us, and inspire them to be better leaders by following our example. And this goes for all aspects of our lives. Everyone deserves to have fun, and there's no harm in going a bit nuts when the time is right - but we should strive to make decisions that we won't regret later, and that won't make others question our integrity.
     The third question is possibly the one we must think about the most before we choose to run for the position again. It sets goals for our next term. What do we want to change, and why? What do we  want to continue to do similarly, and why? And these must be fluid answers, for our goals are always changing. I'm not saying we should never be satisfied, because that often leads to miserable people. But our goals have to evolve with the times and be shaped by the events that transpire as we fulfill our leadership duties. These goals cannot be selfish. This is the part where we have to put our own personal stake aside and focus on what will make the organization better.

     I'm not really trying to educate you about leadership here - instead, I hope you use this post and these questions to help you focus your thoughts regarding your current leadership position. Thinking these things out and clearly defining the answers to these questions (and thus defining our goals for the position) is what will make us better leaders.