On Saturday, November 14, 2015, eight (8) student leaders from the Vulcan Village Leadership Living-Learning Community attended the annual Student Leadership Conference at the University of Pittsburgh – Greensburg. Over 200 student leaders attended the conference coming from colleges and universities in the region, including, but not limited to, Slippery Rock, IUP, Pitt, Cal U., Seton Hill, and Point Park. Sessions were presented by student affairs professionals, graduate assistants, and undergraduates alike. Both Jarod Harakal and Dr. Scott M. Helfrich presented leadership-related sessions, including the following: Positive Leaders Create Positive Environments; Creating Kickass Activities & Programs; and Leadership Lessons Through Team Building-Activities. Over 90 student leader participants attended the three sessions.
The group was treated to an interactive presentation by Swift Kick’s Tom Kriegelstein who spoke about his “Dance Floor Theory” in which student involvement is similar to the dynamics of a dance floor. There are varying levels of participation, and the idea that “More Friends = More Fun” is crucial in creating a vibrant and engaging environment for student activities and programs. The Pitt – Greensburg Leadership Conference was a great time enjoyed by all of the Leadership LLC students, and they are already looking to present at the next conference!
Left to right: Kayla Allen, Colbie Mickens, Jarod Harakal, Amanda Kahwajy, Samantha Wozniak, Dr. Scott M. Helfrich
*** Not Pictured: Gavin Bordogna & John Stibich
On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, students from the Vulcan Village Leadership Living-Learning Community (LLC) hosted the annual Community Children’s Halloween Event. Over 110 children and parents from the California and Brownsville area attended. Activities included trick-or-treating as well as the opportunity to make three different kinds of crafts. Not only was this a great service learning opportunity for the LLC students, but also an enjoyable time for the kids and their parents.
Tuesday, August 25th @ 8:00 PM – LLC Meeting
Saturday, September 5th – LLC Social Activity (*to be determined*)
Wednesday, September 16th @ 8:00 PM – LLC Meeting
Saturday, September 26th – Service Project
Tuesday, September 29th @ 8:00 PM – LLC Meeting
Tuesday, October 13th @ 8:00 PM – LLC Meeting
Wednesday, October 28th @ 5:00 – 7:00 PM Annual Kids Halloween Event (Meeting + Service)
Monday, November 9th @ 8:00 PM – LLC Meeting
Saturday, November 14th – University of Pittsburgh – Greensburg Leadership Conference
Sunday, November 15th – Saturday, November 21st: Food Drive Week for LLC
Wednesday, December 2nd @ 8:00 PM – LLC Holiday Gift Wrap (Meeting + Service)
On Tuesday, September 16, 2014 the Leadership Living-Learning Community students learned about the importance of being a student role model. They also made keychains and bracelets out of beads to symbolize the top seven qualities that they thought are the most important to display as a student leader. The students were divided into smaller groups and tasked with coming up with the seven most important qualities of a student leader. The groups individually shared their lists and then the large group as a whole chose the top seven from the entire list. Different bead colors represented each student leader quality that they were to incorporate into their bracelet or keychain that they made on their own (the colors were chosen arbitrarily).
Here are the top seven student leader qualities the Leadership LLC members came up with:
1. Confident: Yellow
2. Caring: Blue
3. Patient: White
4. Educated: Black
5. Hard Working: Green
6. Open-minded: Pink
7. Creative: Red
Here are seven of the Leadership LLC students showing off their bracelets and keychains.
On Saturday, September 13, 2014, the students from the Vulcan Village Leadership Living-Learning Community (LLC) volunteered with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Washington, PA. A total of 18 students and three Cal U. administrators spent time working in the Restore as well as on a house build site in the community. Tasks at the Restore, included sorting through donated items and preparing them to be priced and placed on the floor for sale to the public. Leadership LLC volunteers at the house build site worked together by painting, spreading topsoil and straw, and building stairs. Thanks to everyone for coming out and demonstrating what it means to be a servant leader!
1. It’s Not About Your Position – President Lincoln said that “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” This holds true with student leadership as well (for both male and female leaders). I’ve encountered many student leaders that concentrated more about their position and power rather than serving others and meeting the organizations’ goals. Remember that you were elected and / or appointed to your position to do good things, not to continually remind others of your positional status.
2. Be Gracious and Humble – “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way with everyone. Do not use these words just to get something from someone, but to demonstrate that you are respectful, courteous, and an overall decent human being.
3. Maximize Opportunities – A university is rife with opportunities for leadership development. Working with other students, faculty, staff, and clubs and organizations outside of your own is a great way to share resources, ideas, and maximize success. Maximizing opportunities is also a great way to practice leading people.
4. Create Allies, Not Enemies – As the old saying goes, you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. The same is true when working with others. Do your best to create alliances with other student leaders and administrators. When people trust and respect you, they are more likely to help you. However, if you constantly strive to always be right (whether you actually are or not), you set the stage for distrust, anger, and ultimately, people will work against you.
5. Don’t Collect Position Titles – I see many student leaders list positions on their email signatures and Facebook and Twitter profiles like a grocery list. It’s truly not about how many organization positions you have, but what goals you are accomplishing and what positive impact you are making.
6. Serve Others – Be selfless and lead with the intention to serve others and not yourself. Do good on campus and in your community. You can gain as much as, if not more, through your leadership experience by serving others rather than yourself.
7. Set Attainable & Realistic Goals – Leaders make things happen; they do this by setting goals and working to achieve them. Setting your heights too high can be counterproductive. Not that you can’t set challenging goals, but make them attainable and realistic. Fundraising $5,000 by the end of the semester may not be a wise goal to set if you only have five team members and limited time to achieve this. But $500 may be more attainable and realistic with the resources at your disposal.
8. Challenge with Data (and Respect) – Student leaders must partner with university administrators in order to to be successful in their leadership pursuits and organizational goals. However, I have seen these relationships ruined through blatant student disrespect. Granted, this should be a two-way street on the part of administrators as well. Being respectful, gracious, and courteous should be your approach when working with and challenging university officials. Additionally, don’t complain just for complaining’s sake. Back up your arguments with evidence, data, and realistic solutions. Work toward a “win-win” instead of simply trying to get your way.
9. Help Others Reach Their Goals – As is the case with #4 and #6, one of the most rewarding things a leader can do is to help others to reach their goals. People are more willing to help you if you are helping them. Furthermore, helping others is a leader’s way to mentor and give back.
10. Have Fun – Enjoy being a student leader! While you should be invigorated by teamwork and the pursuit of your organization’s goals, always remember to have fun. The former CEO of Trader Joe’s used to tell his employees that if they were not having fun after 30 days, they should resign from their position. He said this because he wanted people on his team that enjoyed what they were doing and had fun. The same should be true for any organization that you are a member of. If it’s not fun, either make it fun or find something else to participate in that will be.
What are some other successful leadership strategies that you can share? Please comment below and / or Tweet using the hashtag #VulcanLLC and mention @VulcanLeaderLLC.
On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Resident Director Daniel Pretz presented “Team Motivation & Supervision” with interactive exercises to the Vulcan Village Leadership Living-Learning Community. The LLC students were challenged with creating a bridge and a tower utilizing uncooked spaghetti, string, gumdrops, and craft sticks. The LLC students learned the importance of motivating your team to accomplish goals and foster team morale.
Here are some of successful strategies for motivating teams that were shared:
- Hire slow, fire fast
- Look for attitude over aptitude (although aptitude is not unimportant)
- Give them the ability to apply their unique skills and passions
- Involve your team in decision-making
- Set realistic goals
- Have team members bring you solutions, not problems
- Work harder than your employees (supervisors don’t “get it easy”)
- Don’t give assignments that you yourself haven’t done (or wouldn’t do)
- Let your team see you work
- Take responsibility for failures. Never throw your team under the bus
- As the leader, you get to take the “lumps” (criticism)
- Give recognition
- Be selective so it isn’t perceived as fake
- Give specific praise
- Show an interest in them beyond the work they do for you. Get to know them as people.
- BE GENUINE!
Step 4 – Rinse and repeat
- “People often say that motivation doesn’t last, well neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
- Motivation, like leadership is not a “thing” to be “done.” It is a state of mind that must permeate your practice.
How to Destroy Motivation
- Instruct your team on exactly how to do their job. Be sure to get hung up on every detail.
- Convey that your ideas and methodology are the best (you are the thinker, they are the doers).
- Censor ideas.
- Play favorites with various team members.
Thanks to Dan for presenting to the Vulcan Village Leadership Living-Learning Community!
This semester the students in the Vulcan Village Leadership Living-Learning Community are participating in a new monthly contest called “Operation Leadership.” Everyone is given a card with a leadership task to complete within a month. Everyone who completes the task with the necessary documentation and evidence gets entered into a raffle to win a $100.00 Visa gift card.
February’s task description was as follows:
Your task is to create and implement a new initiative or project with a non-Vulcan Village university administrator or faculty member that will benefit Cal U. students or the California community at large by 02/25/14. Evidence of the initiative must be made apparent in a community or university publication, press release, or other formal public relations announcement (e.g., Cal Times, California Focus, CUTV, etc.) for the Cal U. community. The initiative / project must be original and cannot be already scheduled for the semester or as part of an existing activity or as a required class or work assignment.
The winner was Tamlynn Bachetti who is not only an LLC participant, but also a graduate assistant for Cal U’s Center for Civic Engagement. She created the “Cal U. Kindness Challenge,” which urges students to perform randoms acts of kindness every week for 10 weeks. The Center for Civic Engagement will choose a random act of kindness created by students and post it on Twitter (@CalUVolunteer) using the #CalUKindness hashtag. The more acts of kindness students perform, the more points get towards the grand prize, which is a finals snack basket filled with awesome treats.
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