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Leadership Seminar
3 June 2013
Leadership Seminar Term Paper
Part One: “Initiative Commentary” Throughout the course of the semester, our class completed a variety of “leadership initiatives” in which students were required to accomplish a specific task in a limited amount of time. By completing these difficult tasks, the students within class were able to gain a better understanding of the obstacles and difficulties that can arise during different leadership scenarios. Through our various struggles while working on these initiatives, our class recognized that several concepts were invaluable in order to successfully complete these tasks. The concepts included the idea of achieving group cohesion and the importance of communicating effectively amongst our groups. Within our time working together on the different initiatives we were required to complete, Ken Blanchard’s idea that “None of us is as smart as all of us” was a crucial understanding because it emphasized the idea that everyone’s ideas and beliefs should be heard and valued by everyone in the class. Of the different initiatives that our class participated in, one of the most challenging took place in the auditorium where we had to transport a marble from the top of the auditorium down to the stage, using only small pieces of wood. Due to the fact that this initiative took place early on in the semester, our class had an extremely hard time communicating with each other causing difficulty in creating a strategy that would help us complete the task. As a result of the stairs that separated members of the class, we had an even harder time communicating. This difficulty to communicate would prove to be a major problem, as we continued to struggle getting the marble down to the stage. As time progressed, however, certain people within our class began to take control of the situation by suggesting that we split into smaller groups so communication and cohesion could be easily established. This plan proved to be effective as the much smaller and closer groups were able to easily share ideas and even offer constructive criticism of other plans, allowing for the successful completion of the task. As the objectives of the initiatives varied, the leadership methods that would be most effective also changed. Despite this fact, democratic leadership styles were a necessity in every initiative because everyone’s ideas needed to be heard and valued. In varying initiatives, such as the initiative where we needed to have one classmate travel underneath rope without touching, situational leadership was the most effective method. Situational was the most effective style because the collective group needed to make their decisions based on the situation at hand. For example, when we first chose which classmate would be going through the maze, we needed to consider several different factors. First, we needed to consider who would be capable of travelling through the maze based on their size and maneuverability. Next, we needed to consider who would be willing to take on the difficult task of going through the maze. Through our decision making as a class, we needed to utilize the skills of a situational leader that are outlined by Yukl (1989) in our leadership packets. These skills included the ability to clarify the tasks that the follower (in this case Sam Aebli) would be required to complete, the ability to effectively collaborate with each member of the group, and create a structure of the work and the utilization of the resources. In this case, the members of class needed to create a structured plan based on the rules of the initiative while effectively utilizing the resources that were at our disposal. As time progressed, however, the tone of the situation transformed from a very inclusive and open discussion to a much more serious and stressed situation. This change in tone was a result of the strain that was put on the class based on the rules of the initiative. The