On September 16th, a Friday, instead of lounging my day away in my dorm room, I attended the Spark Leadership conference hosted by the Leadership Institute. This proved to be one of the best leadership trainings I have attended PLUS I had so much fun throughout the whole day. Throughout the day we participated in different group activities to work on each of our individual styles of leadership and to work as a team. Also, we took a test to figure out what type of leader we are and the advantages and disadvantages of our leadership style. All in all, it was a valuable day full of leadership, food, and fun. So here it is folks… my Spark Leadership experience.
There were so many cool activities to participate in at Spark but the two that stick out the most to me and the ones I’ll be talking about are the individual test on leadership style and an activity my group did with Jeremy (our wonderful LI secretary). First off, the leadership style test! For each question there were two answers and basically you had to rank them from 0-5 in order of importance. The questions were very specific so you could pin point your style. At the end of the test, you total everything up and that number you magically get, indicates the leadership type you are. My outcome indicated that I am considerate leader, which I 100% agree with. As a considerate leader I always want to hear about ideas from others and make other people are happy. Furthermore, I try to make sure everyone in the group is heard and that whatever we do, the whole group is happy or can support our decisions. However, there is a downside of being a considerate leader. As this type of leader, many times I put everyone else before myself and end up suffering the consequences for that. Additionally, as a considerate leader, I may not always be productive because I try to keep everyone happy and ensure all ideas are heard. This can take considerable time. Next, my results conveyed that I am not a very direct leader, which I also really agree with. I always have a hard time being the controlling leader because I want everyone to share in whatever we are doing. I have a hard time telling people when they are wrong or are doing something they should not be. Basically, I have a hard time being direct with people when things get “ugly” because I want to keep everyone happy. Now that you know my strengths and weaknesses as a leader, I bet you are wondering about the next activity! For this, we were in groups of two and my lovely partner was my friend Ethan. Jeremy then told us that the pizza we ate earlier that day was poisoned and one person in our pair had lost their eyesight so we needed to find the cure in the tunnels of CMU. Then we had to decide which person in the group would be “blind” and which person would be the leader. In my group Ethan was the leader and I was blind. After we got all of the logistics, we were lead into a room with ACTUAL mouse traps (which ended up being really funny), creepy noises, and obstacles. Ethan had to lead me through the room with my eyes covered, AND he was not allowed to touch/ guide me except with his voice. I enjoyed this activity because it was something fun and I had to sit back and let someone else lead me. Ethan and I ended up being the first ones out of the maze and the only group to not set off one of the mouse traps so that was pretty awesome.
Finally, I will give you a small insight into what I learned and took away from Spark Leadership! One of the biggest things I learned was my specific leadership type and how knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of this type can help me grow as a leader. In one of the sessions, I developed goals on how to become a better leader by enhancing my current leadership skills and gaining additional skills. My main goal is to become more direct as a leader and increase my skill at direct conversations with people, even when things might get “ugly”. Every day I am reminded to be a more direct person and grow into my leadership style.