The second semester is in full swing and I’m compelled to write about one of my favorite courses, Leadership in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media. I’ve never taken an official leadership class before and I had no idea what to expect.
With some of these kinds of softer sciences it can be really difficult to figure out what it means to study the topic. Ultimately, studying leadership taps into one of my favorite areas of study–human behavior. It also doesn’t hurt that we get a healthy dose of introspection too, since we have taken assessment tests to determine our Myers Briggs type and our top strengths according to Clifton’s Strengthfinder. Leadership, at this juncture in the class, is about the ability to know thyself…and then to own thyself.
My strengths? I am an ENFJ whose top five strengths are Intellection, Input, Connectedness, Empathy, and Individualization. But leaders don’t exist in a vacuum of self, so we are turning toward working together in groups for the remainder of the semester. And that of course meant a group team-building challenge where we had to build the tallest structure possible with spaghetti strands, tape, string, and a marshmallow on top. My group’s structure, alas, did not stand. But some other groups were able to think it through and make it work.
In completing the challenge, you immediately start to get a sense of who works in what ways, how the group is succeeding but also failing, and a whole host of other inputs. Or at least, that’s how it was for me. Questions I asked myself during the experience ranged from “is someone naturally taking charge?” to “is the group assigning the leadership role to anyone in particular” to “how can we ensure that all participants feel as though their voices are heard?” (Also, if you clicked into this blog post thinking “how in the world does a little structure made of dry spaghetti relate to leadership?” I hope that reading to this point has satisfied that curiosity for you.)
But really what has me so intrigued about leadership as an area of study and a class is that I have often purposefully put myself in the place of the follower. It’s taken a long time to find my voice in group situations. The fact that I now am classified as Extroverted on the Myers Briggs scale is definitely a surprise to me. It’s taken about every minute of my thirty years on this planet to get to the point where I even feel comfortable regularly talking in class or presenting to large groups, so now that I’m finally at a point where these things don’t riddle me with anxiety, I’m looking to become more of a leader. I want my visions to be articulated and executed. And on top of that, I want to run extremely efficient meetings (doesn’t everyone hate a pointless meeting or one that rambles on too long?). So I’m grateful for the opportunity for a class like leadership to let me exercise these muscles and see where I can go from here.