The Honors Leadership Institute: A Student’s Perspective
After looking for a way to become more involved in the Honor’s Program, the Honors Leadership Institute was exactly what I wanted and more. In just one weekend out at the Warren Conference Center, not only do I have new experiences to share, but also new friends to share those experiences with. The weekend taught me about myself, about how to work with others, and also about how important unity and trust can really be to a team.
We started on our 24-hour journey to the Ashland ropes course on Friday evening and, although it took us double the time to get there, every second of the weekend proved to be worth it. After our opening feast, we met with Professor Bert Spector. In no more than 15 minutes, he was able to change my entire perspective on the definition of leadership. When I used to think about leadership, I was the type of leader that looked to my team. Always. To me, the most important part of being a leader is making sure that everyone is happy with his or her place and job within the team. What Professor Spector made me realize is that for the most part, this always leads to the task at hand never getting accomplished. On the other hand, other leaders who admitted to focusing mostly on the task at hand realized they usually ended up with a team who refuses to do the job, which also leads to the job not getting done. Leadership is the perfect harmony of task and team.
Now that sounds really simple, right? I thought so. However, thinking back on how I acted as a leader in the past, it is definitely not so easy. Classic case of hindsight bias. Everyone thinks they know the answer after someone tells them how simple it is. After our time with Professor Spector, we moved into an activity about discovering our leadership style. Sorted into North, South, East, and West we were able to work in groups as one mind. Each group consisted of one leadership style, which allowed us to work together seamlessly.
As the rest of the night continued and ended with Apples to Apples and Mafia, we opened and spent the next day entirely out on the ropes course. With my newfound comrades, I set out to conquer the Mohawk Walk, The Wall, and a few high ropes course activities. For the most part, we were split into two groups as there were too many of us for one activity. This worked out for everyone because each time we divided up, we got the chance to make new friends. Quite frankly, I enjoy doing that. After each ropes course activity, there was a weird feeling we had known each other for more than 24 hours. The ropes course gave us something we could all relate to and look back on, which personally I think is a pretty remarkable memory. We probably spent at least 8 hours on various ropes course activities and, although we were tired, I doubt anyone would have said no to another challenge.
When it comes down to it, that is what was really special about the Honors Leadership Institute. We all worked together and had a blast. We made friends and we learned how to be effective and strong leaders. Finally, we just had fun.
-Akash Shah, Health Sciences