As part of the LAS protocol, I was required to attend the Spark Leadership Experience. This day-long conference hosted by the Leadership Institute was available for all CMU students. I was very much looking forward to the day; I’d heard it was a very impactful conference.
I walked into the conference hall and sat with a group of randomized students and two facilitators. We began by introducing ourselves and listened to the director of the Leadership Institute, Dan Gaken, welcome us. He said the day’s agenda and what to expect at the conference. We started off with a very important task: evaluating our leadership styles.
In order to learn our leadership styles, we all took quizzes that evaluated our strengths as leaders. There were four main categories: direct, spirited, considerate, and systematic. I discovered that I am a considerate leader. This means I prioritize harmony within whatever team I am in and build loyal followings. I consider others’ feelings and suggestions as well. I would say that this is a very accurate description of my leadership style and who I am as a person.
After we learned our leadership styles, we all chose one other leadership style we wanted to improve. I chose systematic because I want to gain more focus in the work I am doing and have more structure. To do this, I will work on time management and remove distractions. I liked learning what I need to improve on and how I can do it in an attainable way.
I lastly participated in leadership and team-building activities with the group I sat with in the beginning of the day. My team participated in a blind-folded obstacle course. One team member would be blindfolded while another guided them around the course. I decided to be blindfolded. I liked this activity because it taught me to put trust in others and to let go of the reigns in certain situations. In a real-life scenario, leaders are not meant to be in control of every task. An effective leader allows others to speak their minds and incorporate new ideas for the group.
After attending Spark, I feel like I have a better insight of how to improve as a leader. I want to strengthen and incorporate other styles into my own, and not just the one I am strongest at. Spark was a fantastic way to help me keep in mind all of the things that I encompass as a leader and how to develop my skills further. I hope to facilitate at a future Spark conference in order to assist students in applying their qualities to their leadership styles. I would definitely recommend Spark to anyone interested in going.