A few months ago, forty-six students entered my classroom with the hopes of beginning, continuing, or reigniting their journeys to be successful leaders in life and in business.
Well, actually… most of them were probably just hoping to get an A. But, now that the semester is over, I can look back and confidently say they were truly seeking personal growth and development in addition to a good grade.
Here’s nine reasons why:
This spontaneous thought shared by Kathleen came when discussing the difference between managers and leaders:
“Managers make me work. Leaders make me WANT to work.”
That says it all.
When asked to explore key questions about leadership, some passionate debates ensued:
- Are white lies okay in business?
- Is charisma an essential leadership trait?
- And my favorite debate to watch -> Which is more effective? Fear-based or Love-Based Motivation?
— Alan Derek Utley (@AlanDUtley) October 1, 2013
Drawn to Leadership
Like many before us, at multiple points throughout the semester we considered the traits and characteristics that made leaders most effective. At one point we tried to draw the “perfect leader.” Of course, we failed. As expected, we agreed there is no “perfect leader.”
— Nick Budd (@NBuddUTSA) September 16, 2013
Puppy dog training
Leading in the Dark
Students were assigned to teams and challenged to deliver creative presentations that highlighted an example of leadership in action, using one or more theories from our textbook.
Norman, Shelby, Brian, Maria, and Michelle demonstrated the technique called Appreciative Inquiry with a skit where they portrayed people offering their opinions about the ideas and inventions of various eras.
The best part? Half of the skit was in the dark.
While discussing motivational theories, it was suggested by Nick that leading humans through positive reinforcement was much like the way we train dogs.
I simply couldn’t disagree.
— Jacqueline Trejo (@JTrejoUTSA) October 8, 2013
One of our more inspirational and memorable discussions came after we watched this TED Talks video of Drew Dudley on everyday leadership and lollipops.
Reciprocity At Its Finest
Probably my favorite topic to cover is Influence and Persuasion. We discussed the various shortcuts and techniques that one can use to influence others in an ethical and positive way. To add some humor to the discussion, Madisyn offered up this video from the comedy team, Key and Peele.
— Madisyn Holland (@MHollandUTSA) November 5, 2013
Be My Mentor
Near the end of the semester, I invited four local leaders to visit our class to answer the students’ questions about what it is really like to be a leader. Some highlights of the many golden nuggets of leadership offered by Melissa, Rad, Chuck, and Sean:
- Chuck encouraged everyone to go home happy everyday and explained that it is easier and more important to get an idea out of someone than it is to put it in them.
- Rad stressed the importance of knowing your values and then letting those values inform your decisions.
- Melissa reminded us how difficult it can be to transition from peer to boss. Then she told us its worth it.
- Get a mentor. Sean told the students to pick a mentor and ask them if they want the job. The worst they could do is say “no.” Shortly after the panel discussion, Eric tried it and it worked.
Making The Difference
Many admitted that at one time they felt “leadership was a gift given to a chosen few,” to quote Paul, but throughout the semester they came to realize that everyone has what it takes.
I also watched students apply, successfully, what they had learned about leadership to real life situations, which resulted in them making an immediate and tangible difference for themselves and others.
That was the best part of all.
Thank you students for a great semester!