Wednesday, July 27, 2011

AFLV LeaderShape: Day 2 by Reid Palmer

The Value of One, the Power of All
In any group activity there will always be different individuals who make different contributions.  However, the success of that group is a shared accomplishment, a shared achievement, since everyone’s individual role was integral to that success.

Maximizing individual achievement for group success is invariably a job that is tasked to the leader of the group.  How you become an effective leader is not innate: it is not either you can, or cannot.  Like virtually everything else in life being a leader is something you must learn to be and a role you yourself must grow into to be comfortable.  LeaderShape is a vehicle for learning these skills, and doing the kind of self-discovery required to becoming a leader. Today, on day 2 of the AFLV LeaderShape we challenged ourselves to learn the value of one, the power of all.

The value of one, the power of all plays out in many areas for those of us not lucky enough to be Greek.  My best experience with this idea and where I learned its true meaning was on the football field.  Although we love fantasy football and individual accomplishments, football remains the ultimate team sport.  Granted it is one individual who crosses the goal line for a touchdown: the value of one, but it is the rest of the team on the field that made that play and the whole team gets six points: the power of all.  What most causal viewers of the game don’t often realize is what went into making that play a success.  All of the coaches designing plays, the players working hard in practice to give those starting players a “good look” all contribute, all week to success on game day.  Each individual did their part: the value of one, and collectively everyone celebrates: the power of all.

Today at LeaderShape to learn this valuable lesson we addressed in many facets.  To start the day we were grouped into our own small teams and put through some physical challenges to begin to learn the value of one, the power of all.  Through various challenges this short sentence began to ring true again and again.  In each challenged we faced there was an individual, at times many, at times maybe too many who lead the group with an idea or plan.  These individuals were adding their value to the group, and each individual contribution was unique in its own way, they all added up to the group being successful in our task.  Eyes began to open as the words we spoke of after breakfast started to become more than words, but more of a way of how we are going to be leading our respective organizations.  Each individual made a valuable contribution and in turn made our group more powerful.

To delve deeper into understanding we spent the most of the rest of the afternoon learning more about ourselves and others.  Of course there is no understanding others without first understanding ourselves.  Understanding where we come from, our tendencies, and strengths, and then learning that not everyone has those same tendencies and behaviors was the basic framework we started with to expand our knowledge.  Learning that others have different strengths from us, allow us as leaders, to put them in a role that is going to suit them best, not just assuming they can do all we can do.  This is getting the value out of one, or each individual.

A long and necessary session and discussion on our basis, our prejudices, and our move to discriminate was how we wrapped this evening.  Moments of reflection and examination brought realizations that we are each unique with individual identities, multiple identities.  Our identities intersect at many places, and these points of intersection are how we make connections from our groups and grow our communities.  We celebrated the value of each individual and learned that by doing this we strengthen our organizations, become better leaders, and we tap into that power of all.
I learned the lessons of the value of one, the power of all through a different organization other than Greek.  However, whether you are Greek or not this lesson is one that leaders of their organizations in school will take with them to graduation and beyond, and when we are leaders of organizations, businesses, schools, colleges, or any group we will draw on the lessons learned today at LeaderShape: the value of one, the power of all.

Reid Palmer
Metropolitan State College of Denver

AFLV LeaderShape: Day 2 by Kelsey Cunningham

After a busy and slightly overwhelming first day in Kansas, I was excited to continue the AFLV LeaderShape curriculum and get to know the other students a little better. The morning was dedicated to team building exercises in which we were split into teams and given various tasks to complete. Though frustrating at the first introduction, it was interesting to see the different personalities and their corresponding approaches to the problems. Similar to my experience with my Greek organization at school, I learned that my approach may not be the best one and it may take some deliberation to reach the best solution. I was able to connect with my teammates better after we completed a task, and the last couple seemed easier than the first because we were more comfortable with each other and had learned from previous experiences.

The theme for today was ‘the value of one the power of all.’ This concept was reinforced first through the team building because it was a practical, real-life example of how each individual has a contribution and their input is crucial to the potential success or failure of the whole group. After working with our teams we took the DiSC personality test which highlighted strengths and flaws of each type and how that individual can best contribute to a group. We were grouped into sections with our personality and brainstormed how we approach a situation and what others can do to help us compensate for any inconsistencies. In any group, it is important to recognize the different personalities that are necessary to its everyday functionality. For example, Greek organizations would not exist without the Conscientiousness personality because they would most likely maintain the chapter’s finances, paperwork and logistics. The Influence personality type is equally as important because they are most likely to be the most effective recruiters and maintain high morale throughout the year. Taking this test and listening to various methods in which different personality types approached a situation made me think about my own chapter and how crucial respecting the personality differences is in the cohesiveness of a group.

The final portion of the day concluded the concept of the importance of valuing an individual to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of the whole, specifically concerning stereotypes and discrimination perpetuated by preconceived notions held about groups of people. I am the first to admit yesterday I immediately categorized every person I was introduced to before I even got to know them. This tendency can cause animosity in a group or between groups, and can seriously devalue a person simply based on general characteristic that is no way true about every member of that group. We were able to really get to know different students when we shared how they have felt discriminated against or perpetuated discrimination in our family cluster discussions at the end of the night. This was the most memorable experience because I was able to hear personal experiences from people in my group and how they have been affected by discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, race, and religion. Coming from a small town without much personal input to the conversation, it was really powerful to hear the situations others in my group had been exposed to and how they dealt with the issues. This conversation made me re-evaluate what goes on in my chapter and Greek community at UCONN. In addition, I am confident I will come back to school in August with a new appreciation of different backgrounds and personalities and their potential contributions to the group. 

Kelsey Cunningham
University of Connecticut
Kappa Alpha Theta

Monday, July 25, 2011

AFLV LeaderShape: Day 1 by Madeleine Stroth

AFLV LeaderShape: Day 1

I won’t lie… the drive from Iowa City, IA to Lawrence, KA was rough.  Waking up early to sit in a car for hours only to end up missing one… or two exists, is not exactly my idea of a great morning.  After finally arriving at the KU campus, and getting lost a few more times, I was walking up the steps of the Phi Kappa Psi chapter structure and beginning an experience I had been told I would never forget.

Signing in and getting acquainted with the sleeping quarters was the easy part, but suddenly, I felt an emotion I wasn’t used to.  I was nervous.  I’m talking racing nerves.  Had I really given up an entire week of summer to a leadership development program? All at once I was silently overcome with doubt in what I had gotten myself into… or maybe what my advisors let me get myself into. Hmm...

This unsettling rush of nerves was thankfully and quickly relaxed by blaring music and the joyful entrance of the AFLV LeaderShape faculty.  My mood and outlook for the week flipped dramatically and I was sure I had made the right choice.

Opening discussions and the encouragement of the staff to “dive right in” allowed me to make fast friends and participate in intelligent and in-depth discussions about leadership qualities and opportunities.

As if I wasn’t excited enough for the rest of the week, I was then introduced to my Family Cluster, the small group I would be spending a great deal of time with in the coming days.  Immediately our small group began to share our abridged life stories and more importantly, we shared laughs along the way.  

I am so happy I have the opportunity to connect with this small group of leaders who took the same risk coming here as I did, braving the unknown, and hoping for the best.  

Here’s to the Alpha group of AFLV LeaderShape adventurers!  I know it’s going to be great!

Madeleine Stroth
The University of Iowa

AFLV LeaderShape Day 1 by Olivia Evans

AFLV LeaderShape, Day 1

LeaderShape. Wow. This word, just a few months ago, was an illusion; a title on an application; a far off summer plan. When I woke up at three am this morning in Lake Oroville, CA to drive to the airport in Sacramento to board my flight to come to Kansas City and then Lawrence, this word became the outline for my life over the next week… And what a great week it’s looking to be.

Upon my arrival at the airport, I found a group of fellow Greek-letter sporting young adults with large suitcases and awkward expressions. Within minutes of being on the bus, we had found commonalities, shared stories, and made each other laugh. Jumping into a situation like LeaderShape that has no exact description of experiences leaves a lot of room for “what if’s,” and trepidations- about being liked, about finding friends, and about coming home a stronger person. It was obvious to me, however, within just one hour of being in Kansas, that this California girl did not have to worry about any of those things.
As a communications major, I find words to be important: not just what we say but how we say them; how we use them. Our LeaderShape handbook defines “leadership” with many words, one of them being action. Action is the word I chose to focus on today because it embodies so much. Action requires thought, planning, drive, and the conquering of the fear of rejection. All of us Greek students initially conquered a fear by choosing to rush: putting ourselves out in the world to be judged and accepted or rejected by peer groups that we hoped to one day call family. In our lives, we have taken millions of actions and will take millions more, and I find it to be such an important component of leadership because a good leader knows how to use action or understand the importance of action.       
This week, it is my goal to use my actions as a leader, co-leader, and follower to the best of my abilities. As James Dean once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Being able to adjust actions as new situations arise is an admirable and useful quality in any person, regardless of position or status.
            Tonight, there are many words on my mind, all of which are positive and most of which are sure to be trending on Twitter nationwide over the next week due to the outstanding program myself and my fellow Alpha Class of AFLV LeaderShape are experiencing.
Thank you, Alpha Gamma Delta (Delta Iota Chapter) for giving me a family and thank you to that family for sending me here.


Olivia Evans
California State University, Chico