COM461L Reflection

For the LAS protocol, we as a cohort were required to take COM461L, or Communication in Leadership. Communication in leadership is a wonderful course that is designed to explore how leaders communicate in many different situations. We explored crisis communication, communication in groups and teams, communication in organizations, and public communication. The cool part of this class is that it is essentially a continuation of the LDR200 class, which lays the foundation for leadership theory. COM461L does a great job exploring how communication and leadership are so interconnected and how important leaders’ messages are to their followers. The class was taught by Prof. Elizabeth Carlson, and I have not met a more genuine professor in my life. She always had the best interests of students in mind and was always available as a resource. She was positive throughout the entire semester. With COM being one of my weaker subjects, I was a little nervous coming into this class; however, all my worries quickly disappeared. Prof. Carlson believed that leaders have the ability to communicate with followers through storytelling, and a few of our assignments did just that. Through many extemporaneous presentations we worked on our storytelling, which really is a great method of communicating, as it establishes credibility and showcases passion.

COMpic1

Communication is so important in the world we all live in today. Whether it is face to face or virtual, it is important to know how to communicate appropriately. We as leaders have an obligation to fulfill. We are the bridge between organization and employee, or government officials and constituents. As a leader, it is important to polish up our own personal communication skills to ensure that we are able to convey messages with ethical intent and inclusiveness. In the world today, we see a lot of political business being dealt with inappropriate tweets, outbursts, or news coverage. Since when is twitter the new boxing ring for political figures? As learned in this class, emotional competency is very important when it comes to communicating as a leader. Following the domestic violence incident on CMU’s campus, it is important as a leader to be able to use emotional competence to ensure that followers feel safe. In times of crisis, a leader must ensure that their followers are taken care of first, while maintaining their composure.

ComPic2

COM461L has taught many things about leading in teams that I never knew before the course. As I approach my professional career, I will remember the material from the course. It is evident that employees will often work in teams in the workplace, and I have learned so much information regarding team management, leadership styles(and when to use which one), as well as how to host and manage a efficient meeting. Moving forward, the most important thing that has stuck with me professionally is the idea of having efficient meetings. Often times meetings are boring, long, and appear to have no clear agenda. This not only is terribly mundane, but discourages members from attending the meeting in the first place. In the real world, I imagine that I will attend countless meetings and maybe put on a few myself, and I want to ensure that the meetings serve a collaborative purpose. Moving forward, that is so much from this course I can use. The world needs leaders that communicate with inclusiveness and passion. I believe that this course has given me the foundation to lead in that manner.

Advertisements

RSO Reflection: College Republicans

 

CR1

 

This year I was in and out with the College Republicans. When I came to CMU, I was heavily involved with the group here on campus, but as my schedule got busier and busier, my time commitment to this RSO went away a little bit. The CRs are a group here on campus that push for Republicans to get elected throughout the county, state, and federal government. They also work with local campaigns to help each candidate. During my time this year with the group, I attended some fundraisers for candidates, as well as contributed to some political campaigns back home.

This RSO is cool because it allows for students with conservative ideologies to come together and work for a common cause. This group on campus is also very open minded regarding politics and encourages members to reach out to non-members to talk about politics. Now a days, politics is so partisan; you are either on the right or on the left. I cannot say how bad this is for our country. The framers intended for debate and discussion but now a days, political parties are so polar, nothing in government can get done.

I have worked on many campaigns in the past and this group has helped me increase some of my leadership skills in the field. Campaigning today is so different compared to a few years ago due to social media and technology now having a bigger role in elections. This group has also provided me many points of contact in my profession and I am grateful to have made the professional connections that I have. As the political system becomes more polarized, it is imperative to place ethical leaders into positions to create some type of middle group, because this will be the answer to most of America’s problems.

What Being a Mentor Means to Me

As part of the LAS protocol, it is required that all Sophomore members in a cohort take a member of the incoming freshman class as a mentee. As the near of my freshman year had come to an end, the mentors of the LAS class of 2016 got our clipboards, pencils, and attitudes, and were ready to choose our mentees. The process within itself was pretty stressful, as we had 45 brand new leaders to choose from! Each leader came from different areas, had different passions, and different leadership styles. Making the process all the more fun. Once the process was complete, I had my perfect little mentee, Emily Doucette.

Emily is a riot. I have never been so scared of someone who was 4’11” in my life. She is a ball of fire, waiting to explode. She is determined, open-minded, and has the drive to succeed… and is really sassy.

Growing up an only child, I was not sure how I was going to deal with this other human being, who was now such an important piece of my life. I had been entrusted by the Leadership Institute to show my mentee the ropes of CMU and LAS when I wasn’t sure quite what the hell I was doing here in the first place. Lets just say I winged it for a while. I wanted to be this cool person that she could look up to, call throughout the day, text whenever she needed it, and most importantly, I wanted her to be my friend. I did some corny reveal and met her at Panara Bread for lunch where we both argued about who was going to pay for food. The conversation that followed was so easy. I had felt that we had known each other for ages and I knew that our relationship was going to be great even though we had both just met.

 

Emily1.PNG

The year presented some challenges for us, as we both had our struggles, our ups and downs. I tried to be there whenever she needed it, as she was always there for me. Whether it was hammocking, hanging out, getting food(thanks for the guest swipes), or just talking on the phone or texting, we always had a great time.

We both had a ton of fun this year. I can honestly say that Mentee Mentor retreat this year was a blast. The purpose of the event is to get mentors and mentees on the same page through conversation, team building exercises, and relationship building exercises. There were many fun events and activities to do, and the event was so great because I really got to build our relationship. (Thanks for not making me do the zip-line, very convenient that we are both afraid of heights.)

Troughout this year, I have learned so much from Emily. I learned that it is okay to not be okay, and I learned how important it is to take time out of your day for self care. Before I received my amazing mentee, I often found myself burnt out after a long day of coursework, as I was not taking time out for me. It might sound cliche, but she has taught me so much about myself, and for that I am so grateful.

I would hope that Emily would say that I have been a positive influence on her life this far here at CMU.  Because she has sure influenced mine.

The topic of this blog is: “What does being a Mentor mean to me.”

I can say that being a mentor to Emily has been a empowering experience. Being a mentor is a two way street, as much effort as you put in you will get out. Although I was the mentor, I feel that Emily has taught me so many life lessons over the last year. I feel like a proud sibling watching his baby sister grow up into such a great person.

 

GradBall3

Emily,

As a mentor and as a friend, I could not be more proud of the person you have become this year. You are a strong woman, who has the drive that will take you anywhere you want to go in life. Where there is struggle, there is perseverance. Life throws some curve ball so be sure not to get caught looking. It has been a wonderful year and I cannot wait to meet our perfect addition to our LAS family. (I am old, and its crazy to think that I will already be a G mentor). I hope you had a great year, and I am looking forward to spending more time with you next year.

Love you “little one.”

Blake

 

Leadership In Sigma Alpha Epsilon: An RSO Reflection

In the fall of 2016, I decided that I wanted to go Greek. I decided to rush Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity here on CMU’s campus. When going through the process, I did not know what to expect, but joining SAE has truly impacted my life in ways that could not be explained.

Soon after joining SAE, I knew that I was joining a brotherhood. Never have I ever had a solid group of 40+ guy friends in my life. SAE has shattered all stereotypes regarding “fake friends.” Not only are the members of my fraternity my brothers, but they are my friends, friends that are there in times of good and in times of bad. Genuine friends, friends that cannot be bought or bargained for. I can genuinely say that I can see multiple members of my fraternity standing up in my wedding. During my first semester, I was elected to serve as the Member Educator, and currently sit on my fraternity’s executive board. Following the Member Educator position, I was elected President of SAE in the Fall of 2017. If someone would have told me that I would have been president after three semesters of a fraternity, I would have told them that they were crazy. But here I am. I lead a group of 49 of the most genuine and respectful leaders here on campus, and I could not be prouder of my organization.

 

Frat1

I have learned many things from joining SAE and later getting elected to the executive board. Greek Life in general gets knocked for “partying” and what not, but Greek Life instills a sense of community into each of its members. Being in Greek life has also made me think more about others than myself and has created a great sense of camaraderie between all groups within the community. The world today has become selfish. People don’t think about others as much anymore. Philanthropy is begged for rather than simply given. This is a problem. People in the world need a helping hand sometimes, and one must reach out to give support. After joining my fraternity, I can truly say that I am dedicated to helping those who cannot help themselves through philanthropy and service. Each day I attempt to achieve my why statement: “Inspire others to protect and serve communities that cannot protect themselves.” My involvements in Greek Life have contributed to allowing me to indeed serve the communities around me. Being elected President has made me grow up… very quickly. As the President, it is my job to ensure that all brothers are accounted for and each brother of mine remains safe throughout their stay in SAE. I am truly honored to have been entrusted the role as president in my fraternity and have been putting my heart and soul into the job. After almost four semesters in my fraternity, I can say that I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have had to make tough calls as a leader, I have upset some people, I have made some bad decisions, and I have lost friends. There has been some negative, but I feel that I have truly grown as an individual, and as a leader. I have had good days, and I have had bad. In my opinion, the good days outweigh the bad. Be true.

 

Frat2

LEAD Team Reflection Year 2

During my sophomore year, I was originally scheduled to be on LAS Competition day LEAD team, but had to change due to an unexpected interview. Once again I participated on the Grad Ball LEAD team. The LAS Grad Ball is an event for the graduating seniors within the  LAS program, which they are honored for all of their accomplishments within the program. For the LAS protocol, every student is required to actively participate on a LEAD team. During the 1st semester, my lead team was not very active due to the fact that the event was not until April. After Holiday break, the LEAD team took off and we started to buckle down. We worked to organize a venue, menu, and other party requirements. Our team put together all of the details really efficiently and broke into committees. I worked on the set up and music committee. The music committee ensured that there were some good tunes playing during the event. As setup we had to make sure the venue was ready to go to honor our LAS seniors, who have dedicated so much time and effort into the program. During the set up we prepped the tables, photo wall, and slideshows. I set up the computer and music that was needed for the event.

GradBall2

Grad Ball is awesome because it brings all of LAS as well as the Leadership Institute staff together. It is super cool to see everyone within the Leadership Institute be together in one room. It was almost overwhelming to see Central Michigan’s top leaders within a banquet hall room, but it was an inspiring experience to say the least.

gradball3.jpg

Working on the LEAD team allowed me to work within a team to plan an event. In the professional field, it will be important to have teamwork skills. During the planning, we all had different ideas. We had to collaborate as a group to come to compromises. Earlier in the year, we learned about all the different leadership styles, and it was evident when planning Grad Ball, all of the styles were being utilized. I am a very systematic leader and am good at organizing things, however, sometimes I lack the sympathy connecting to my followers. Helping plan this event really touched my sympathetic side. Since this event was to recognize the senior LAS class, it really hit home considering that my second year within the program, as well as my second year at Central Michigan University has quickly come to an end. What spoke volumes to me was the speech given by Dan Gaken at the event regarding Central Michigan’s ability to create the next generation of ethical leaders. I have never heard something that resonated more to me in my life. The graduating class of seniors have the potential to change the world, as the sky is really the limit for them. It is crazy that in just 2 short years I will be where they stood on the night of Grad Ball.

This experience working on the team was so fun working with others to make the event great, however, during this last paragraph I want to do some self-reflection. I can honestly say that the Leadership Institute has changed my life. Sitting in the same room as the graduating LAS seniors made it real to me, it connected all of the dots. I knew that being a part of the LAS program was very rewarding, but that fact really hit me the night of grad ball seeing all of the leaders about to walk into the professional field with confidence and compassion. It completely blows my mind that half of my college experience is already over. When I look at this event, I can say that I am blessed. LAS was the reason I had come to Central Michigan in the first place, and wow, it is such a great fit for me. This campus has genuinely been my home the last two years, and I would not want it any other way. I am so lucky that I received that phone call from Dan Gaken on January 20th, 2016, at 5:46 P.M.  I am glad that someone saw my potential to lead. Central Michigan believes in Leadership. Central Michigan creates ethical leaders. I am so blessed to be a part of the Leadership movement at Central Michigan University. I am ready to take the skills learned to the real world and into my profession. I am ready to lead.

LEAD Team Reflection

During my freshman year, I was on the Grad Ball LEAD team. The LAS Grad Ball is an event for the graduating seniors within the LAS program, which they are honored for all of their accomplishments within the program. For the LAS protocol every student is required to actively participate on a LEAD team. During the 1st semester of my freshman year, my lead team was not very active due to the fact that the event was not until April. After Holiday break, the LEAD team took off and we started to buckle down. We worked to organize a venue, menu, and other party requirements. Our team put together all the details really efficiently and broke into committees. I worked on the set up/cupcake committee to make sure the venue was prepared for all the guests. As setup we had to make sure the venue was ready to go to honor our LAS seniors, who have dedicated so much time and effort into the program. During the setup we prepped the tables, photo wall, and slideshows. We also set up the cupcake display in the shape of an LI. I already knew that Grad Ball would be fun before people even arrived.

gradball2.jpg

What is cool about Grad Ball is that it brings all of LAS as well as the Leadership Institute staff together. It is super cool to see everyone within the Leadership Institute be together in one room. It was almost overwhelming to see Central Michigan’s top leaders within a banquet hall room, but it was awesome to say the least.

Working on the LEAD team allowed me to work within a team to plan an event. In the professional field, it will be important to have teamwork skills. During the planning, we all had different ideas. We had to collaborate as a group to come to compromises. Earlier in the year, we learned about all the different leadership styles, and it was evident when planning Grad Ball, all of the styles were being utilized. I am a very systematic leader and am good at organizing things, however, sometimes I lack the sympathy connecting to my followers. Helping plan this event really touched my sympathetic side. Since this event was to recognize the senior LAS class, it really hit home considering that my first year within the program has quickly ended. What spoke volumes to me was the speech given by Dan Gaken at the event regarding Central Michigan’s ability to create the next generation of ethical leaders. I have never heard something truer in my life. The graduating class of seniors have the potential to change the world. It is crazy that in just 3 short years I will be where they stood on the night of Grad Ball.

GradBall1

This experience working on the team was so fun working with others to make the event great, however, during this last paragraph I want to do some self-reflection. I can honestly say that the Leadership Institute has changed my life. Sitting in the same room as the graduating LAS seniors made it real to me, it connected all the dots. I knew that being a part of the LAS program was very rewarding, but that fact really hit me the night of grad ball seeing all of the leaders about to walk into the professional field with confidence and compassion. I am so lucky that I received that phone call from Dan Gaken on January 20th, 2016, at 5:46 P.M.  I am glad that someone saw my potential to lead. Central Michigan believes in Leadership. Central Michigan creates ethical leaders. I am so blessed to be a part of the Leadership movement at Central Michigan University.

Year in Review Reflection

When I first came to Central Michigan University in the Fall of 2016, I was scared but also super nervous. As an only child, I never really had to do complex tasks on my own, and always had my parents there to help me if I needed it. I was excited to be a part of the Leader Advancement Scholarship program and knew that I had friends before I even entered the school year. Once we began the year, the year started pretty negative. Honestly I did not like Central one bit at the beginning of the year. I immediately wanted to transfer. I ended up going to some friends in LAS and they talked me into giving Central a chance. Within a few weeks, I ended up buckling down academically and started to love Central. Once I was able to get in my routine, I loved Central Michigan University with a passion. I knew Central was the place for me, and from then on I was excited to dive deep into my major, leadership program and fraternity.

central-michigan-university-office
Powers Hall- Central Michigan University

When I came into the Leadership program, I was a very systematic leader who always was vocal about my beliefs. I advocated hard for my beliefs and was honestly pretty closed minded. The program has definitely allowed me to be a more inclusive leader. For example, my political views coming into college were very set. After taking a step back, I have opened my eyes to “the light.” The Leadership program, along with its leadership classes have really gotten me to realize that you can look at the world from many different perspectives. As a high school student, it is uncommon to look at things in leadership from different perspectives, just the one that you are familiar with. Within my LDR100 and LDR200 classes, I was able to learn about all of the different approaches to leadership that I have never even considered. What I feel changed me so much was rushing my fraternity.  Joining my fraternity threw me directly into a leadership position. In contrast to high school leadership that I was familiar with, my leadership position put me in to a position where I was in charge of older members. Being a freshman and getting elected to an e-board position really changed my outlook on my personal leadership skills. Older members of my fraternity elected me to be a leader in the chapter. This moment gave me the confidence I needed to transform into a better leader.

When working with others before I came to Central Michigan I was often very analytical when leading. After going through multiple workshops, I realized that I needed to display more sympathy when leading. I was always very goal oriented when it came to completing tasks, and sometimes left the feelings of others out of the equation. Now when leading others I often consider the feelings of others when making decisions. Another huge thing I learned about leadership is that leaders don’t always have to lead from the front. It is okay at times to just support other leaders from the backs, rather than being a vocal leader from the front.

In the LI, we always talk about how the skills we learn from our program can be directly applied within college and real life. I can honestly see the skills that I have learned throughout the year come right into play. Whether it is being a vocal leader, or leading from the back of the room, I can say the first year within the Leadership Institute has taught me the necessary skills to be an effective inclusive leader. I am going to continue working hard to ensure that my leadership skills improve over the next four years. Ultimately I am trying to get into a good career path that will allow me to work hard and inspire others to do the same.

GradBall3
LAS Grad Ball with members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Michigan Delta Omega Chapter

 

 

Mentor Reflection

 

Last week, the LAS cohort of 2016 went through a workshop to prepare us to become mentors to a member of the incoming LAS class of 2017. Before the workshop, I was consumed by the thought of getting myself the best possible mentee. I wanted someone who I knew that I would instantly connect with, and honestly probably become really good friends with. I had a very closed mind when it came to the selection process. I wanted who I wanted and that was that. As the workshop began, I knew that my thought process was a little skewed. The whole time leading up to the workshop, I focused so much on my possible mentee, instead of myself. Sure, my mentee is going to be super important to me, but I needed to take a step back and realize that I needed be the BEST mentor to him/her, rather than trying to select “the best mentee.” Once I realized that I was able to be the best mentor I could be to ANYONE, I was not as worried about “finding my perfect match.”

During the workshop, my idea about being the perfect mentor was solidified. For me, being the perfect mentor isn’t all about being the mentees best friend ALL of the time. There will be a time to be friends, however, there is going to be times that I will need to be a mentor, and make sure my mentee is on the right path, the path to success. As a mentor I will always be a backbone to my mentee, however, I will allow them to do their own thing to allow personal growth. As a mentor, I am just looking forward to meeting my mentee. As a sophomore in college, I am looking forward to showing them the do’s and don’ts of Central Michigan University. As an only child, I never had the opportunity to be a big brother to a sibling, and I want to be able to take on that role with my mentee.

In preparation of my anticipated mentee, I am doing a lot of self reflection. I have had a pretty crazy first year, but have definitely experienced enough college to be an effective mentor. Coming into my freshman year of college, my biggest concern was the transition from high school into college. As soon as I arrived, I was able to connect with a great friend group who ultimately led me to being successful with my transition. I have experienced the home sickness, the stress of class, boyfriend/girlfriend drama,  and general college drama. I am so ready to lead my mentee through it. Freshman year in the LI has pumped me up to become a mentor to a member of the class of 2017. I can confidently say that I am ready to indeed be the best mentor I can be!

Sigma Alpha Epsilon (RSO) Reflection

In the fall of 2016, I decided that I wanted to go Greek. I decided to rush Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity here on CMU’s campus. When going through the process, I did not know what to expect, but joining SAE has truly impacted my life in ways that cannot be explained.

Soon after joining SAE, I knew that I was joining a brotherhood. Never have I ever had a solid group of 40+ guy friends in my life. SAE has shattered all stereotypes regarding “fake friends.” Not only are the members of my fraternity are my brothers, but they are my friends. I can genuinely say that I can see multiple members of my fraternity standing up in my wedding. During my first semester, I was elected to serve as the Member Educator, and currently sit on my fraternity’s executive board.

I have learned many things from joining SAE and later getting elected to the executive board. Greek Life in general gets knocked for “partying” and what not, but Greek Life instills a sense of community into each of its members. Being in Greek life has also made me think more about others than myself, and has created a great sense of camaraderie between all groups within the community. The world today has become selfish. People don’t think about others as much anymore. Philanthropy is begged for rather than simply given. This is a problem. People in the world need a helping hand sometimes, and one must reach out to give support. After joining my fraternity, I can truly say that I am dedicated to helping those who cannot help themselves through philanthropy and service. Each day I attempt to achieve my why statement: “Inspire others to protect and serve communities that cannot protect themselves.” My involvements in Greek Life have contributed to allowing me to indeed serve the communities around me. After almost two semesters in my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, I can truly say that I have grown as a person. I am more open to new ideas, always willing to help, and always have a smile on my face. Be true.

 

Leadership is Saying NO

In the world we live in today it is always nice to extend your helping hand to as many people as you can. As a leader, we all try to help and touch the lives of as many people as we can: hoping we can make a difference everyday in someone else’s life. We as leaders carry the burden of ensuring that our followers are taken care of ALL of the time. We typically put others first and put our own feelings and needs in the backseat, hoping to make a positive impact on someone’s life. However what happens when you always put others first? You start taking on problems that are too large for you to take on, you sympathize with everyone, you start falling behind on work, and have a hard time falling asleep at night. The problem eventually hits YOU the individual that tries to help everyone: What about me? 3 simple words that are often thought of as selfishness eventually need to be answered. A leader always puts their feelings aside to comfort others when you know well that the leader is suffering on the inside. When does putting people first all the time not work? Am I selfish for caring about myself? Is it wrong that i need some Self Care? The answer is NO; Leadership is saying NO.

We as leaders are constantly stigmatized as beings who are able to take on the weight of the world and take on everyones’ problems, but this couldn’t be any farther from the truth. As a leader, your feelings are often sidelined and overlooked because it is so important for YOU to make a difference to someone else that you do not even care how you are feeling. Days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months, and you still haven’t focussed on yourself. Your tank is running on empty and your body and mind demands some much needed attention. As a leader, this is totally okay. Every leader wants to help as many people as possible, but everyone needs a time for self reflection and evaluation. As a leader, we need to realize that these periods of time are critical to our success. We need a time to rejuvenate our bodies and minds so that we can continue to help others. Truthfully, the hardest thing in leadership is saying NO, and every leader needs to practice saying NO everyday. If I have a full day and know I have hours of homework when I return to my dorm, it is probably not wise to go help someone on a project that will not benefit you at all; however, as a leader, it is an innate response. You will say yes to that person, you will assist them and make their project the best it can be, but you will return home stressed out to the max wanted to pull your hair out. Leadership is indeed stressful, but it is important to not add unnecessary stressors to your life.  I want to echo one more time… Saying NO doesn’t take your leadership “status” away from you. Saying NO makes you a human being that has individual feelings and emotions. As a leader, I continue to encourage you to help people, but think about your own self care as well.

Leadership is many wonderful things…. One is saying NO.stopsign