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.

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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.

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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.

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Community Service: “Building” Relationships

During the Fall, I worked with some friends to finish some electrical in houses. A few of my friends are contractors and asked me if I wanted to help them out with some projects they were working on. I found out that they were working on some buildings in some urban centers and needed some guys to help with some labor. I am no builder, I will admit that, but I have worked numerous labor jobs in the past. I volunteered with my friends for a couple weeks and by the end of it, I was really good at somethings that I never thought I could be good at. Because there are building codes, I could not do a ton, but I learned a ton of usable skills. We built a few buildings and left an impact in the community, which was a really cool experience.

 

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Volunteer work is imperative to giving back to a community. As leaders, we all have an obligation to give back to the communities from which we came from. Communities are such a cool space because they allow people to come together in effort to conquer a common goal, so contributing to my community was a very humbling experience knowing that I was making a difference in someone’s life.

 

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As an emerging leader, it is important for me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than holding a bias about an area. Last year, I attended the LAS in the D Trip with my LAS cohort. The city of Detroit was beautiful and upcoming, and this service work I did reminded me of the effect that my cohort had one the city last year when we went. Experiences like this allow me to reflect on how fortunate I am. When I have spare time, instead of participating in selfish actions, I will reach out to members of my community and participate in servant leadership the community so deeply needs.

 

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RSO Reflection: College Republicans

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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.

PSC105WI Refelection

During the Spring 2018 semester, I took PSC105WI, or Introduction to American Government. The course is designed as a traditional political science course that immerses students into the history of American policy as well as American political thought. My professor, Dr. Thomas Stewart, did a wonderful job teaching the course. Dr. Stewart made the class fun while relating material in the course to present day politics. With the election of 2016 came great divide in the United States of America, and Dr. Stewart did a great job communicating thoughts without sharing his opinion or creating bias within the classroom. One could appreciate that Dr. Stewart taught the class objectively rather than allowing his own political views dictate the direction of the course. In this class, we learned about democracy, and how the United States came to be. We dove into the ground rules of the Constitution, and who and what branch got the power. We then explored the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and did an exercise that allowed us to spot constitutional issues within Hollywood films and in present day issues.  We wrapped up the course with information surrounding foreign policy and how the United States has dealt with diplomatic issues in the past. Overall, the course was a fun experience as it related a ton of material back to the current day problems that everyone sees on the news.

Political science courses are a privilege. When exploring other countries that do not have a democratic government, it is evident that the students in those countries do not get the opportunity to learn about democracy or their governmental systems at all. The U.S. allows for students to immerse themselves in free thinking and limits the amount of censoring when it comes to the sharing of information. We are very lucky. We have the ability to learn about all different types of government and explore different forms of government practiced around the world. It is crazy to see how uneducated Americans are when it comes to their own country and political system. I encourage each citizen to take a few political science courses as they will open your mind to the real issues and limit your ignorance when you argue issues that require fact based evidence. 🙂

Moving forward in the leadership minor, I see its purpose. The minor is intended to promote independent thinkers with open minds. Taking these courses, especially this political science course, has opened my eyes to some of the limitations of this country in its current state. Currently the elected leadership in America faces problems that they cannot solve due to lack of ambition, experience, and drive. The American political system is one of the best in the world. Citizens truly are the voice of the country, which is the classic definition of Democracy. What is a shame is when the elected officials begin to stray away from their promises, constituents, and the wants of the common person, and begin to act with disdain, ignorance, and are motivated by self-interest. This course did not create some type of epitome in my thinking, but it made me realize how many people throughout history and in the American political system are underrepresented. The leadership claims that it is time to “Make America Great Again” but who was it great for to begin with? Leaders must stand up for what is moral, and use this morality to drive the country into prosperity. Excluding citizens and treating minorities as second class citizens is not the answer.  I am glad to say that LAS has opened my eyes to some of the problems I have previously overlooked. I am blessed to say that I am part of the program that creates ethical leaders. This country lacks ethical leadership, but we are the future.

PHL118 Reflection

Coming into Sophomore year, I was excited for what the year had to offer. I took courses in many different disciplines,  as I wanted to expand my knowledge regarding some issues surrounding our nation. As part of the LAS protocol, our cohort was required to take PHL118, a moral problems course.

Because of my major, I was unable to take the course with my cohort, so I took an alternate section of the course. This section happened to be a WI section, which called for intensive writings within the course. My professor, Dr. Robert Stecker, was an awesome instructor. In the class, we explored some provocative topics that led to powerful discussions as well as some emotion. Some of the topics included the death penalty, animal rights, eugenics, moral arguments regarding drug use, and abortion. As anyone could imagine, the discussions were all but simple. Students from all different walks of life filled the classroom, which led to powerful and productive discussion. Along with classroom discussion, Dr. Stecker assigned us essays that challenged our analysis and argumentative skills.

The moral problems course really opened my eyes in the sense of diversity. Because each student had different life experiences, he/she had different opinions on each of the topics we explored. This diversity allowed discussion to be interesting and challenged each student to take a step out of their comfort zone to understand new material. As a leader, it is crucial to be able to understand multiple levels of morality, as well as understand differing opinions. Because the world is so diverse, there are often tens or hundreds of different positions on an issue, and as a leader, it is important to be able to remain open-minded to listen to different positions. The course itself was a great first step to allow for critical discussion that promoted debate. Without debate, the world would be boring, as each person would agree on everything everyone said.

PHL118 was the first class at CMU that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The topics discussed were those that promoted a lot of discussion and emotion. As a leader, it is crucial to be able to understand the positions of others , rather than be closed minded to any change. I believe that good and productive discussion requires an uncomfortable setting which challenges the positions and beliefs of all those involved. As a leader, I must understand that my followers each come from a different walk of life. Each follower has different experiences, different expectations, and different opinions on crucial issues. Rather than be closed minded, it is imperative to promote diversity and lead with an open mind.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

 

Theory Application

Adaptation is defined as: a process of modification to become more suitable for a new use or purpose; becoming adjusted to new conditions.

During our LDR200L class, we were given leadership theories for our leadership workshops. I was beyond happy to receive the theory of Adaptive Leadership. Since I have came to college I have been a chameleon: always adapting  to constantly changing conditions. Leaders must always think their feet and adapt to ever-changing conditions that they encounter. In my opinion, this theory is most related to everyday life because life never goes according to plan 24/7.

The Adaptive Leadership Theory made its first appearance in 1994.  Ronald Heifetz, the researcher behind this theory published his book Leadership Without Easy Answers, which included findings on adaptive leadership. Heifetz continued his studies and brought multiple other researchers in to help with this process. He worked with Sinder, Grashow, Linsky, and Laurie to start developments on the Adaptive Theory. The Adaptive Theory made way into the field and is still being researched today to add new findings.

With this specific leadership theory there are four different perspective to look at and six behaviors. The perspectives include biology, service, psychotherapy, and systems. Each perspective explains how adaptation occurs in four different ways. The six behaviors include: Get on the Balcony, Identify Adaptive Challenges, Regulate Distress, Maintain Disciplined Attention, Give Work Back to the People, and Protect Leadership Voices from Below. Each of the behaviors provide an outline of what a Leader should do when they are adapting. Each behavior is free flowing, and links one behavior to the next. I believe that Adaptive Leadership has many more strengths than weaknesses. One strength is that this approach is process based. The theory clearly explains the interaction between leader and followers, which can clear up any ambiguity one may have about their interaction. The approach can also be used within any professional field. Students in college can use this approach and so can doctors in the ER. Since this theory is still fairly new, there is a lack of empirical evidence to back up all of the claims, however, more research is being done to gain new knowledge about the theory.

This leadership theory revolves around adaptation during any possible situation. I have experienced many instances in college where I had to think on my feet and adapt to different situations. When on the LAS in the D trip, we were always prepared for something to change within a minutes notice. Jesi constantly reminded us to just “willow with it.” As leaders we must always be able to react to any situation. While on the trip, I personally had to adapt to the type of service I was doing. Going into the trip I was told that I would be volunteering in the kitchen, an area that I felt very comfortable in. However, once we arrived, I was informed that I was no longer working kitchen. I was a little upset regarding the change, but knew that I had to adapt. I quickly was able to identify the adaptive challenge and work efficiently to change. In the end, I had a wonderful time doing my newly assigned task. Another time I used this theory in my life is in my fraternity. Being on the executive board of my fraternity comes with its challenges. As the member educator, I am responsible for ensuring that all members are on track with their education programs as well as schedule meetings with new members. College guys are busy. It was not until I got into college did I realize this. Being in charge of organizing all of the meetings can be tough when people are  constantly busy or abruptly cancel meetings. I have used steps of the theory such as regulating distress to keep myself sane as well as keep everyone engaged.

The Adaptive Leadership theory makes the most sense to me because it can truly be displayed in everyday life. Leaders can see it. Followers can see it. In college, everyday is a new challenge, and you don’t really know what life is going to throw your way. By understanding the Adaptive Leadership theory, one can think quickly on their feet and make the necessary change to tackle the problem at hand.