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Leadership in 'Action' 2004 Forum

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

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Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2004-09-15 18:14:00
Link to this Comment: 10843

Welcome to the on-line forum area for Leadership in 'Action' 2004. Like all Serendip forums, this is a place for informal public conversation, a place to leave your thoughts-in-progress for other people to hear and to find things that other people have said that might be of use to you.

"Informal" means you don't have to worry too much about "correctness" in your writing. What's important is that other people understand you, and they'll try pretty hard. "thoughts in progess" means you don't have to be sure you know exactly what you want to say before saying something; thoughts that one person has are frequently helpful to someone else even if the first person later changes their mind or goes beyond them. And what seems vague or irrelevant to you may be just what someone else can use in their own thinking. "Public" means you're leaving your thoughts for whomever drops by, mostly of course other people in this program but people anywhere else in the world might stop in to see what's going on. The idea is that everyone's thinking about important issues like leadership can be aided by hearing what other people are thinking, not only people in this program but people anywhere.

Sometimes we'll ask you to write about specific things in this forum, but you're welcome as well to leave thoughts here anytime something crosses your mind that you think it might be useful for other people to hear. And if you register for Serendip's "Keep Me Posted" feature, you'll get an email any evening when there has been a posting that day, so you'll know when someone else has left something here that might be interesting to you.

Enjoy the forum. And let's see what sense we can together make of leadership.

follow up
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2004-09-19 20:18:22
Link to this Comment: 10865

Enjoyed meeting with you all tonight, and sorry we didn't have more time to talk toward the end. I've love to know what you thought of the various kinds of organization I outlined (my notes are available here), and what kinds of organization you think would work best in what kinds of circumstances (not only in athletics but also in familiies, in communities (Bryn Mawr?), in the nation and the world).

I'll drop back next week to see how the conversation continues but, in the meantime, any thoughts you'd like to leave here are more than welcome. IN ADDITION to the six sentences I mentioned?

Name: Deb Charam
Date: 2004-09-19 21:09:52
Link to this Comment: 10866

I am a basketball player at Bryn Mawr College. I am a psychology major who wants to go on to school for physical therapy. I spend a lot of time with friends and family and always try to have a good time and laugh.
I think that a good leader is a player who is knowledgable about her sport and is passionate about it. I think a leader knows her teammates well, both within the sport and outside of the sport, and is able to bring them together, to have fun and work hard. I also think that a leader knows when her team needs her to step up but even more importantly, she knows when she should step back and allow her teammates to lead.

6 sentences
Name: baade
Date: 2004-09-19 21:14:57
Link to this Comment: 10867

My name is Molly Baade and I'm a senior majoring in Anthropology at Haverford and minoring in East Asian Studies. I'm a captain and the president of the Bryn Mawr / Haverford women's rugby team, the Horned Toads. I'm also the co-editor-in-chief of the Bryn Mawr yearbook, Akoue.

A leader knows how to motivate her teammates (or her staff). A leader is able to connect with the individuals she's leading and to see their best qualities so that she can help them achieve to their greatest capacities. A leader needs to be understanding and sympathetic, but she also needs to know when to be firm and when to push herself and her teammates to their limits.

Name: Katy Shaw
Date: 2004-09-19 21:55:04
Link to this Comment: 10868

I am a junior biology major and German minor. I am originally from New Mexico. In high school I played soccer and ice hockey. At Bryn Mawr, I play soccer, run track (when I am not injured), and work at admissions as a tour guide.

Prior to tonight’s lecture, I thought of leadership as more of a hierarchical organization with the head having power equal to that of someone like Donald Trump. On the field/ice, I had a more open sense of a leader as someone who pushed herself and her teammates day in and out. After tonight’s lecture, my ideas about leadership are changing.

Name: Jen Mansh
Date: 2004-09-19 22:39:26
Link to this Comment: 10870

My name is Jen Mansh and I'm a senior majoring in economics and minoring in political science. I transfered here in the middle of my sophmore year from Lafayette College. I'm captain of the Bryn Mawr tennis team and next year I hope to be working in the finance division of a large manufacturing corporation.

A leader is a good listener, someone who is not quick to judge and who factors in all aspects of the problem before coming to a conclusion. A leader is energetic, motivated, determined, and inspiring to their teammates. A leader is a role model that acts only when necessary, letting other people step up whenever possible.

Who am I? and Leadership
Name: Cara Peton
Date: 2004-09-19 23:43:58
Link to this Comment: 10871

Hello, my name is Cara Petonic, and I am a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College majoring in Math. I am spunky, energetic, and love to have fun. My athletics have contributed to major points in my life.

Leadership is Listening. Leadership is teaching, learning, patience, participation, communication, and cheerleading. Leadership is love for yourself and your group.

Name: Irene Morl
Date: 2004-09-19 23:44:34
Link to this Comment: 10872

I am a junior math major in the education certification program. This will be my second year on the badminton team, as well as my second year as a leader of the badminton club. In my spare time, I like to read and do embroidery.

A leadership role is what you make of it. Leadership can be formally defined, as in an official position like administrator or teacher, but it can also be informal, like when you have to do a group project and some or all group members coordinate the work to make sure that everything gets done. I think that there's a lot of informal leadership going on in our daily lives that we don't even notice, like when one of your friends is always the person with ideas about fun places to go or things to do; it may not be what we usually think of as leadership, but I think it is a form of leadership.

6 sentences
Name: Amanda Dou
Date: 2004-09-19 23:55:34
Link to this Comment: 10873

I am as of yet a (currently undeclared) Independent Major in International Relations, perhaps doubling in History, but I'm not sure yet. I'm class of '07 and involved in SGA, Rugby, and theatre here at Bryn Mawr.

Myself: I am very intense, in life as well as in athletics. I am extremely determined. I also have been know to be very stubborn on occasion. ;)

Leadership: Leadership is showing intitiative. I think that to be a leader one should lead by example. I also feel that a leader must be sensitive, to her situation, others' situations, and everyone's feelings.

Name: Lana
Date: 2004-09-20 00:08:25
Link to this Comment: 10874

My name is Lana. I am a Junior English major...and I'm minoring in Psych and Econ. I run cross country and both indoor and outdoor track.
I believe that leadership is about helping a group come together. It's about setting a good example. Good leadership means helping others understand the task at hand.

Six Sentences
Name: Taylor Bea
Date: 2004-09-20 00:48:29
Link to this Comment: 10877

My name is Taylor and I am a junior Math Major. I am from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Harrisburg. I have played badminton since my freshman year, tennis my sophomore year only, and I am participating in volleyball, as well as badminton, this year.

Leadership takes on a variety of roles and requires a different mentality based on the specific task. For one, it can be the ability to grab control and to dominate a situation with the ability to organize a project or group. Also, it can mean staying calm and being encouraging while also remaining strong. Leadership is possessing the quality of being an example.

About myself and leadership
Name: Ioana Buto
Date: 2004-09-20 01:04:20
Link to this Comment: 10879

My name is Ioana Butoi, I am from Romania and I am a double major in Computer Science and Math plannig to go to grad school for Artificial Intelligence. I love to explore cities, but I am also an outdoor person. I love sports in general but especially raquet sports (badminton, tennis, squash) and my favorite team sport is handball.

Leadership is the ability to guide a group toward the desired goal. It involves a lot of interaction and feedback. Communication and cooperation are key facts for a good leader.

forum and leadership
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2004-09-20 10:11:32
Link to this Comment: 10880

Many thanks to Profesor Grobstein, and coaches Carol Bower and Jody Law for starting this exciting and unique series!

To me, leadership is sometimes complex and sometimes a simple set of tasks. It can be establishing a vision, finding ways to support others and their visions,of knowing oneself and providing a path for others to follow. I also think it is helping others set goals- some of which are easily reached, others a challenge and still others that seem out of reach -- but always aimed toward the ultimate shared goals and vision. A little bit of daring, some dreaming and a lot of doing.

Name: Amy Vendit
Date: 2004-09-20 13:21:10
Link to this Comment: 10883

I am a senior basketball and lacrosse player at Bryn Mawr College. I am a math major with plans to attend medical school. I like to be with my friends and family, eat, sleep, watch tv, play sports, and have fun.

To me, leadership is about a dynamic of the team, based on hard work, persistance, trust, respect, fun, and togetherness. A leader is someone who recognizes her own strengths and weaknesses and is able to work with them. She also must know her teammates' strengths and weaknesses and acknowledge when a teammate may have a strength that the leader does not.

Name: Rheanna Be
Date: 2004-09-20 13:51:00
Link to this Comment: 10885

Three sentences to introduce myself:

I am co-captain of the Bryn Mawr Crew team and a Cities major/ Spanish minor. I grew up on an organic farm on a small island in Washington sate; it is a very alternative environment. Being on the crew team and my experiences growing up in a very small community with a loving family has played a large roll in the person I am today.

The three most important things I know about leadership:

Trust- There must be a sense of mutual trust between the leaders of the team and their teammate and vise versa.

Listening - A leader must listen to what the team is telling them, what they are saying to each other and what their own mind, body and soul are telling them.

Dedication- A leader must show a great deal of dedication and love for their sport and their team. They should be able to infuse the rest of the team with their enthusiasm and dedication.

Name: Jen Lam
Date: 2004-09-20 14:09:08
Link to this Comment: 10887

I am Jen Lam, and amongst other things, I am a scholar athlete who is passionate about what I do both on and off the field. I push myself in every aspect of my life to be the best that I can be while having fun and enjoying the company of good friends. I am proud, but humble.

Being a leader is about guiding a group of individuals towards a common goal; the leader sees the big picture and is able to break down the main goal into small realistic ones. It’s not about being perfect, but honest. It’s about being a pillar of strength in times of need, and keeping one’s feet on the ground when victorious.

Who am I?
Name: Meera Jain
Date: 2004-09-20 23:06:25
Link to this Comment: 10892

Hello! My name is Meera Jain and I am sophomore psych major/econ minor. I play tennis and love athletics, tv, food, shopping, reading, skiing and hanging out with friends. I am from Ridgewood, NJ and write for the BiCo sports section.

I think leadership is when the whole team comes together and really functions as a team. It is not just about one person telling others what to do, but knowing where to motivate people into the right direction. Leadership is a trait that every type of person can have, but the way people lead are different based on their personalites.

Name: Meg
Date: 2004-09-21 19:30:02
Link to this Comment: 10898

Hi, my name is Meg Folcarelli (taking Jeni Wolfe's place) and I am a swimmer. I have been swimming since I was 10, and I love the Bryn Mawr Swim Team. I find that when I am swimming for a small team I am more motivated and want to do my best for the greater good of the team.
I think that leadership can be demonstrated in various ways, and does not have to be the typical idea of a hierarchical position. I think that a leader is someone who sets a good example for both their peers and those older and younger. I think that good leadership is important in any situation, especially if it is more than one person leading.

Name: Ralph Kunc
Date: 2004-09-22 09:18:23
Link to this Comment: 10904

Leadership is any number of things. A leader is a servant, not an autocrat, and yet must be "in charge." How can one be effective in "taking charge?" Have a vision. That's not as hard as it seems. A vision is not a plan. We can all make plans - groups do this well. A vision is a dream for the future, a positive statement of a shared outcome that is truly inspiring enough for others to do the difficult work of change. Think of the effect of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. It wasn't a strategic plan, it was a call to a better future. A team will only get involved with a strategy if inspired by hope and a vision. Leaders who are helpful in getting any team towards that shared vision of the future with any speed at all will inevitably be immersed in change. Change is stressful. Therefore, leadership is stressful and requires great equanimity. It is for those who feel a special "calling." Almost all leaders engage the world by being judgmental. And here I do not mean judgmental in the pejorative sense. Effective leaders are good at making judgments about what is the most effective course to follow. Judgments are rarely about good and bad, right or wrong; they are made by weighing the risks and benefits of action or inaction.

end of first week ....
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2004-09-24 17:03:44
Link to this Comment: 10942

Thanks, all, for the rich and diverse array of thoughts that challenge in valuable ways the thinking about leadership I had been doing before we talked. What struck me as particularly interesting was the attention many of you gave to things I didn't have on my mind, things like "motivation", "persistance", "setting a good example", "judgemental", "pillar of strength", and "sensitivity". Am wondering why I left those out, whether they are somehow represented but hidden in the figure I drew , whether I have to redraw the figure.

Looking forward to talking more about all these things this coming Sunday. In meanwhile, what has changed in your thinking about leadership since you first wrote in the forum? Please write three sentences here (more if you like) before Sunday about what new ideas/questions have occurred to you from our first session and/or since then.

Name: Millie
Date: 2004-09-26 13:06:43
Link to this Comment: 10951

My name is Millie and I am a senior on the lacrosse and field hockey teams. Last weekend I was not able to make our first meeting but I am really excited about tonight.
Leadership has become a much larger part of my life here this year and I am still trying to define what it means to be a leader.

leadership revised
Name: Ioana Buto
Date: 2004-09-26 13:19:27
Link to this Comment: 10952

If we try to create a group based on the brain model, I don’t think we will be successful. In the brain model all the interacting cells are “equal”, but people are all different. People are opinionated, and in a group there will always be people that think in opposite directions. A group definitely needs a “supervisor” to make sure that all the members are moving in the right direction. The leader has to interact with the group and most of the time the leader should be a regular member of the group. The leader should be a “referee”, and try to get the group to function by certain rules. As long as no rules are broken, no interventions should be made, and the group should function based on the interaction of group members.

what is leadership
Name: anna
Date: 2004-09-26 17:04:32
Link to this Comment: 10954

ok, apologies because I am probably the last one to post these. Sorry guys! My name is Anna Tomasulo, I am sophomore here at Bryn Mawr. I am a member of the track team and the customs program and plan on majoring in French.

Leadership is setting an example, and being aware that you are setting this example. It is gaining trust from those around you and understanding your teammates. It is being able to support your teammates and encourage them.
once again, sorry its late, looking forward to tonight. peace

New Thought
Name: Meera
Date: 2004-09-26 23:18:35
Link to this Comment: 10957

After the discussion on Sunday about what roles coaches and players have in leadership, I think the roles are reversible when it is needed. For example, in doubles if I am not doing my job my partner will tell me what needs to be done and therefore becomes a leader. But in singles a coach can come over and give you a pep talk and she is a leader also. The term leader is purely a title that can be associated with all teammates and coaches.

continuing ...
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2004-09-27 07:51:42
Link to this Comment: 10958

Interesting conversation last night, and glad Meera picked up a piece of it that I thought was significant: how does one think of coaches in relation to a team? I agree that a team member may get useful input from either a team mate or a coach, and in that sense either can function as a leader. But let me sharpen the question. Is/should the coach be a team member? Should the coach be receptive to input from team members? If not, then the coach is a "hierarchical leader", in the sense of the first of the diagrams we talked about a week ago as opposed to the last. My sense is some coaches certainly do see "leadership" that way (while others don't?). Is that the way it is or needs to be? Or is it something we accept without thinking about it, something that could be changed? Should be changed? What do athletes think? How about coaches?

Name: Meg
Date: 2004-09-27 15:10:41
Link to this Comment: 10963

I was thinking about the discussion that we had in the session on Sunday about coaches and what role they play, and should play on a team. This can vary with each sport. As a swimmer, my coach is the only one who can supply workouts and direction to the swimmers, because no one else is qualified enough. The captains lead in support and in social aspects, but can't help swimmers technically, or plan out workouts for the team to perform its best.

Name: meg
Date: 2004-10-07 19:32:41
Link to this Comment: 11050

Thanks guys! That was a lot of fun. It was a great experience to get to spend time with athletes from all other sports that I don't usually get to see. I think that this program helped us to act as leaders by making the committment and effort to make the movies.

Name: Meera jain
Date: 2004-10-07 20:22:14
Link to this Comment: 11051

I had a great time spending a night with other athletes and the enormous amount of food we ate! After this weekend, I have realized the value of different personality types in a team. It is not a good idea for everyone to be extroverted or introverted, differences bring the team together. Addditionally, a coach has to be a positive reinforcement so that all people of the team feel included.

Name: anna tomas
Date: 2004-10-08 09:50:41
Link to this Comment: 11060

I completely agree with Meera about how the different personalities make the team work and you cannot have all extroverts/introverts. I think that what was really emphasized this weekend was how a team works together and that everyone has something to offer. We didn't have a leader per se in the group, but everyone had an equal amount of things to offer and leadership qualities to add to produce our movie. I had a good time this weekend, thanks guys! It was good getting to know everyone from different teams :o)

my day as fuchsia dot
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2004-10-10 21:12:09
Link to this Comment: 11079

So...I think I may actually have spent yesterday as a fuchsia dot. The Women's Studies Program at another university in the area asked me to facilitate a day-long strategic planning meeting in which they hoped to formulate a new mission, and to sketch out a proposal for how to begin implementing that vision.

Now, I've participated in lots of meetings @ BMC over the past 20 years, and run quite a few of them; in most of those I have had a vested interest in the outcome (and maybe even some of what Ralph, above, calls "vision"?)--as well as some sort of institutional (not to mention personal) obligation to enact the group decision....

This was a very different experience, one that the graphics in Insights into...Complex Organization very well describes. I think it was important that I knew the field--that is, that I was familiar, on a national level, w/ the issues that this program was wrestling w/; knowing the global patterns enabled me more easily to see the local ones. Equally important was the fact that I was not a member of the program under discussion, and probably even more important that I was not invested in any particular outcome; this freed me to "say" back to the group what I was hearing--overall patterns and concerns and investments--w/ no sense that I was advancing (or neglecting) my own agenda--and also w/ none of (my usual) anxiety that I'd be responsible for follow-up. I saw myself as helping the group realize that they had, indeed, a common story, and already a number of clear steps available for moving forward w/ it....

Probably my most important insight/realization was that I did NOT occupy a role of power (which seems to presume, definitionally, a closed system-- one w/ limited resources), but rather that I was simply enacting a role. And it was actually the absence of any power differential which made me freer (and more able) to fulfill that role as "integrator"and "synthesizer" of what was happening in the room.

leading dots
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2004-10-11 21:17:35
Link to this Comment: 11081

Followed Anne from a forum down the road. Thought that I'd leave some of my thoughts here.

Very interesting to me, your experience as a fushia dot, Anne. Was thinking about it in conjunction with a story by Truman Capote called Children on Their Birthdays... In this story a little girl comes into a town that's pretty set on its ways and then with characteristic Truman Capote quirkiness, this little girl changes things. She's an outsider from the start and everyone is fascinated by her. In the first line we learn though, that she will get run over by a bus. In the last part of the story, she does.

This reminds me of "the characteristic investment of the passerby" those without strong emotional attachments, whose functions are temporary but serve to keep things going. Your wonderful story of helping that organization by being a fuschia dot seemed to me a little bit like this... Seemed illustrative of when leadership is a force without a name that people can remember... People may not remember Anne Dalke but they'll remember the product of Anne Dalke...that is, what you did/said to advance their thinking... When you were that dot, you were a force operating in the universe and not a person with biases/agendas. That type of distance was helpful for their goals. Let's say, for example,though, that you were to go back and join the organization.. you could no longer operate on the level that you operated in that moment... there is something about the fushia dot experience which by it's very nature needs to be brief... before the attachments start forming deeply... maybe why we elect a president every 4 years?

It also has to do with sports, I think...something someone said way back in the Descartes forum about the in the groove moments where we simply are and are not thinking. I remember brief moments from tennis when my mind would shut off and my body would know enough to do something right...(these moments were not often, my body responds to commands from my brain--don't have a highly developed body subconscious... difficult to get my mind to not think about every motion...) This relates to the lack of attachment quality of the fuschia dot leadership experience. The fuschia dot is and it moves others because it is, not because it is attached to the others, is commanding them etc.

So why else am I here? Enjoyed reading the posts of talented athletes whom I know on and (regrettably not enough) off the court. Spent my first two years here on the tennis team and I respect you all quite deeply for the way that you live in a mind AND body way every day... It's difficult to find the time and balance to do this but it makes a difference on a team level and on a community level.

I feel that my leadership experiences were greatly enhanced by my time spent on the tennis team for what is going to seem like somewhat strange reasons. When I was on the tennis team I was not in any way, a leader... I was more of an "awed participant follower"... tennis was one group that I could participate in and not take on the active role of leader...I could be a part of the team building and still be playing at a lower level- I felt like I got to be a member of a crew in a sail boat on a sea voyage which I did not have to stear on my own... Team sports, tennis at least, do have a certain heirarchy to them (if not emotional, then logistical) those who have trouble stearing the boat are not asked to stear the boat when it really counts, those who can confidently list their weaknesses as forehand, backhand AND serve will probably not play against others who are more skilled when it's time for a match...Not everyone plays first singles. Bryn Mawr sports are better than other school's sports because of the variety of goals that the teams have... but we must not kid ourselves and say that winning is not a goal. It's still a big goal. Winning takes fuschia dots AND people with strong emotional attachments to the goal... It takes people to be the raw energy, the wind behind the sail and the concrete force, the individuals with their hands firmly gripped at the wheel who see certain destinations.

So in my leadership roles, NIMBUS, Writers Group, Art Club... I have tried to lead a bit like a fushia dot where possible, not being a name, ego, vision behind any project but allowing the projects to sail with the help of the others and with the wind defined by their words, thoughts and ideas and I do think that I've been able to do that with certain attachments, biases that have not been detrimental but helpful... I deeply care about these groups and their goals and have something that's raging within me to get them out there, on campus more and more... to give an even greater voice to the arts on campus. To WIN so to speak... to get real live products...something to show for all of our seeking... And now, in my junior year, engaged for the third time with these organizations and working with staff memembers who just get better and better, I'm feeling that the fuschia dot is starting to fade a bit. Something's happened so that I'm no longer a nameless force... people know who I am and they treat me like I'm entitled...and this is death to certain crucial things... that is to say, when the dot is labeled as such it looses the power of just being a color out there, working, striving, fighting with others...I'm not complacent now, I'm genuinely baffled. From staff members I'm getting a lot of "do it like we've done it before" and this is difficult... there is a path... it has been marked, it has been lableled...if we know where we are going, why go? And then coming up I see new energy, new thoughts, new ideas...raw force that I cannot even comprehend dwelling near me. I've learned that it's time for me to start encouraging that, rather than staying at the positions where I have been. Life has to be a bit like, pass through, then step back. We're working towards that end with both groups, working to maintain a sense of the important collective and working to turn over the head leadership next year... That's what the fushia dot's about also, a strong element of stability allowing for graceful change.

Lovely to have found this space! And thanks to all who have stopped by. You rock! And do submit to NIMBUS at the end of this semester... or stop by Art Club and see what the mural project is all about! :-)

Final Thoughts
Name: Ioana Buto
Date: 2004-10-28 13:52:56
Link to this Comment: 11250

This program turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought. Being able to interact with athletes and produce the movie was a great experience. I wish we could have also tried to play some of the other sports. Although we are all so different we were able to come up with ways to work together well. Athletes should get together more often.

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