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Leadership FUNdamentals in a Nutshell

K. Lawrence LDR 2010

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Kai as a Leader

I am an extrovert, or rather, and an extravert. This definitive fact has highlighted and shaped my personality for as long as I can remember. I have always been conscious of the fact that I am the extra in extravert. My leadership style mirrors this, as does one of my key beliefs of leadership. Leadership is not defined by the way you act, but by the way people receive you. One might assume that with an outgoing personality, I would believe the opposite; but rather it is because of my personality that I strive to ensure that I leave a positive impact. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of being loud and having fun, but although some may be put at ease by this, others might become overwhelmed. A leadership philosophy is a personal guideline that acts as a foundation of leadership decisions and styles. While I may have considered this ideal as my philosophy once, a semester's worth of research, readings, and reflections has shifted my perspective.

I believe that leadership is relational, situational, and intentional.
I have always held these views but engaging in meaningful course material has allowed me to develop and shape my beliefs of leadership and coin my philosophy.

Leadership is FUN

Leadership is a personal experience. It is founded in the relations between people, and the innate impact and influences we have on each other. One of the ways leadership manifests as personal is through our values. It is through my leadership experiences that I have been able to identify my top three values as Integrity, Open-Mindedness. and Empowerment. It is with these values that I can shape my leadership style and make leadership my own. Leadership is fun, if you make it your own. Oftentimes, when we think of leadership, we think of an unattainable title lording over us. Instead, leadership is a journey of self-awareness, one that only the individual can define. My values are self-defined by my experiences.

Integrity- doing the right thinks for the right reasons

Open-Mindedness- recognizing and embracing differences in thought and action

Empowerment- strengthening, motivating, catalyzing, and inspiring

One of my top strengths is Belief which as defined by StrengthsQuest is having certain core values that are unchanging [and] out of these values emerges a defined purpose for life. My top values have shaped my involvement, life experiences, and decisions. Values sharpen the moral compass and define the moral code that we choose to live by.


LDR 2010 was a semester of new and unexplored theories, ideas, research, and concepts on leadership. Of all this content, these five ideas struck home.







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We never have enough of it! It is no different with leadership. Whether you are taking the time out to work through change and transition or solidifying group processes, taking the time out to reflect on a new concept or an familiar ideal, time remains an unwavering construct that affects every action done. Exploring Leadership incorporated the concept of time and leadership in interesting ways.

In the subtlest of ways, time was introduced as a necessity of successful leadership practices. In order to understand others you have to familiarize yourself with the idea of diversity, but ultimately it is dependent on taking the time out to learn about others, a feat that is not easy nor is it short. Similarly, Leadership Fundamentals placed an emphasis on the importance of reflecting- dedicating the time to simmer and meditate on leadership experiences and their effect. Reflection appeared in several ways, identifying values, creating a leadership philosophy, teaching our peers. Regardless of the medium, refection was an act that took time.

Time was identified as one of the three key dimensions that help us understand different types of groups. Groups were suggested to be either time-limited or ongoing. Oftentimes, when groups are lead, seemingly unsolvable situations arise, whether in group dynamic, communication, or purpose. Exploring Leadership suggests asking these questions.

What roles do group members assume?

How do these groups vary in time commitment?

Ho does the length of time change the dynamics of the relationship?

However simple time may appear to be, the significance of delegating each minute to the right thing is beyond us. Leadership is just another part of our lives, and because of this, utilizing the little time we have to our advantage as leaders is necessary.

ETHICS “Character gives you the courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or consequences.”

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The world sucks. Fortunately, we have ethics to guide and shape our actions. Leaders often face moral temptations or ethical dilemmas. In these times, one must call upon moral courage, the strength to do the right thing when tempted to do otherwise. This is a lot of pressure! When peers or even higher authority persuade leaders to abuse power, or support an injustice there is an internal conflict. Moral courage is overcoming that inner battle. This is a feat that cannot be accomplished without fully understanding yourself, your values, and your personal code of ethics. Establishing a foundation to lean on when hard situations arrive, will make doing the right thing much easier. The featured quote from Exploring Leadership highlights a major part of moral courage- regardless of the circumstances or consequences.

“Courage is an intensely personal matter. We muster and strengthen it in the depths of our hearts and souls sometimes during the depth of night.” This quote by Proctor and Gambler CEO John Pepper stands out for a number of reasons. This reminder of the nature of courage highlights the way in which we hold the power to be courageous. It also subliminally suggests that it is for this reason that courage is courage at all- that is to say that courage is a rare act which is what makes it courage. For, if courage were a common occurrence it would no longer be courage. It is strengthened by us and who we are. Leaders will be subjected to scrutiny based on their actions. Handling ethical dilemmas will always be a difficult task, but in spite of the popular opinion, the advantages, the pressure from superiors, doing the wrong thing is never okay.

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AIM: Purpose, Goals, and Whys

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How can one lead without knowing or caring about what they are leading for. Identifying an aim or purpose as a leader is essential to be successful. According to Exploring Leadership, The Relational Leadership Model illustrates purpose as the center of the model since it provides context and focuses on the leadership actions of the individuals in a group. Group structures and processes are shaped around the aim of the group. Purpose serves as a foothold when groups and leaders need to reconnect. In order to meet a goal, several actions must be taken, and during this process it is easy to lose sight of the initial intention.

Leadership can often be a heavy burden to bear. Knowing and embracing why the journey was started, makes the load a lot easier.


Exploring Leadership certainly is not short of theories and concepts in leadership. Of these amazing ideas, I will highlight one major models.

Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

This model is one of the most practical and accurate depictions I have experienced this semester. With the current social climate in the state that it is, it is important to focus on teaching other privileged people about their privilege. Educating and informing others on the concept of privilege can be a dangerous task, because for some it is unfamiliar territory. Individuals are often unreceptive to intense discussions on topics that target specifics of their being. The way we act is our responsibility, and when someone else attempts to adjust that, it feels like a personal attack. Regardless, the need to inform others who are privileged about their privilege is essential for a high functioning society. We often talk about stereotypes and stigmas that exist because of ‘society’; we recognize that they are wrong and we say that we want to change them. Unfortunately, we seldom remember that we are society. The only way to enact change is to do it ourselves. The call to action forces us to recognize that we must take up the task of having difficult but necessary conversations.

To do this, the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity identifies key stages that an individual unfamiliar with privilege, difference, or/and inclusion my be facing. Intercultural competence is a need in the world. Exploring Leadership notes that multiculturalism is a lifelong learning task. The framework highlighted makes it easier to understand and facilitate change.

The models in Exploring Leadership were intentional and informative. They were processes applicable beyond the scope of leadership. This course has motivated me to get involved in the leadership discussion and continue to learn about the other theories, research, and models out there.

STRENGTHS "One of our greatest assets as human beings is our talents."

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Exploring Leadership defines a talent as 'any recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied,' and a strength as 'consistent near perfect performance in any activity.'

These definitions are empowering and intriguing, especially in a world that almost forces us to focus on our weaknesses. Effective leaders can bring out the strengths in others while applying their own. The text dedicates an entire chapter to understanding yourself, which includes understanding, appreciating, and supporting your strengths. This chapter precedes 'Understanding Others' because it is impossible to successfully understand or lead another without knowing yourself.

Strengths are individualized. Although any two people may have the same strength by name, the way they utilize and interpret that strength is different- much like with values. The are no set strengths that a leader must possess. Leadership is a personal process. No two leaders are the same. Strengths and talents must be wholly accepted by a leader, before they can even attempt to accept the strengths and talents of others. This lesson was a hard one for me, and throughout the semester I have seen my strengths manifest in different ways. I still struggle with idolizing my weaknesses rather than building on my strengths. This is not to say that weaknesses are to be ignored. Instead, weaknesses are areas of potential strength.

Kai Is A Leader

Leadership Fundamentals has been more than a class. It has facilitated a learning journey. My experiences throughout this course- engaging in intentional discussion, participating in the identities activity, meaningful reflections, and having a platform to share my views and ideals- has added another layer to who I am. Leadership can be rather ambiguous; it is free for interpretation and application. My leadership philosophy is just a ripple in the many other perspectives of leadership. Regardless, I will apply my philosophy and the materials I have gathered throughout the semester to all my experiences. Leadership is not limited to title or position, therefore the lessons I have learnt in this course also cannot be limited to title.

My core values, Integrity, Open-Mindedness, and Empowerment are supported by other values such as authenticity, and humor. It is because of my values, my beliefs, this class and my life experiences that I am able to state these five guidelines that I live by: 1. Be conscious that everyone has their own story- be open-minded; 2. There is more than one side to an argument- people only argue for what they believe in; 3. You can’t control everything- life was not meant to be controlled; 4. Be curious- question everything; 5. Admit to your mistakes- how can you rectify them.

My personal code acts as a guideline to ethic success. In all the decisions I make, I will consider these five points and apply them to the situation accordingly. Some of these guidelines directly tie to how I approach others and forces me to consider how my decision affects others. Ethics define right and wrong; this personal code ensures that the ethical decision is made.

All quotes provided were directly taken from Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference unless otherwise indicated.

Komives, Susan R., Nance Lucas, and Timothy R. McMahon. Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013. Print.

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