Last October, I was fortunate enough to attend the Honors Leadership Institute. The Institute was an overnight, weekend experience held at Northeastern’s Ashland campus. I truly enjoyed my time at the Honors Leadership Institute. I was impressed with the Ashland campus from the second I set foot on it. I enjoyed an excellent dinner with fellow upperclassmen, which gave me an opportunity to meet new friends before the activities began. Later on, we ate around a campfire before going to our cabins to spend the night.
The Institute was paced by numerous exercises to help students learn what leadership is. Leadership tends to be popularized as one individual managing to spur a group into action. While this can be true, the Honors Leadership Institute offered another perspective on understanding what leadership is. I learned about numerous factors that affect one’s ability to lead others. One factor that was stressed was communication and perspective. In one exercise, I was forced to try to describe an object so that way someone else could build it. A fun task like this highlights the importance of communication and perspective in everyday life: in order to communicate effectively, one must understand the point of view of who they are communicating with. Once I began to understand my teammate’s viewpoint, my task became immensely easier.
Trust is a crucial component of leadership. The Honors Leadership Institute made this abundantly clear with another fun exercise. In groups of two, one blindfolded student had to successfully walk around outside in a field while being given directions by a non-blindfolded student. As the non-blindfolded person, I had to gain the trust of my partner in order to guide her along the course. My partner became more relaxed and followed my instructions with less hesitation as the trust between us grew.
Climbing the Ashland ropes course was our final challenge of the weekend. Faced with this challenge, it was important that everyone had some motivation. As people began their ascent, we cheered on each other to provide support. Hearing the rest group root for us provided the motivation we needed to reach the top.
Where the Institute excels is in making students harness their already present skills and turning those skills into effective tools that one can lead with. Taking fun tasks and turning them into real life lessons worked very well for this program. Working together with new and old friends alike was a memorable experience. Getting to the top of the ropes course is a moment of personal achievement that will always stay with me. Not only did I have a great time during my stay at Ashland, I also improved my ability to communicate and lead. I’m already thinking ahead about returning to the Institute next fall.
Guichard Volcy, Business Administration