Monday, February 28, 2011
For my leadership interview i interviewed my boss Bruce Humphries. Bruce is the wood shop supervisor and teaches two classes in metal sculpture classes in continuing studies. Since i've worked under Bruce he has been a good boss, and has treated me with the same respect that i give to him. So far he has been a good leader and a pretty good role model to me. he even gives some of my co-workers some good advise when needed, i haven't need ed his words of wisdom yet, but i know i can go to him if i need a little light shed on certain situations. Bruce is an example of what i like to see in a balanced and knowledgeable leader. i recorded my interview with bruce and here it is.
The team failed because of one factor: poor leadership. Each step of the way, Juan’s ineffective leadership facilitated a cascade of unfavorable consequences, and ultimate failure.
First, Juan failed to define a clear objective for the assignment. The student organization was geared towards educational outreach and peer tutoring services for chemistry majors—and yet they were asked to host an anniversary celebration event, unrelated to the group’s mission statement. Fine, but this means the group leader (Juan) must be sure to define the event’s purpose in a way that is meaningful for the group specifically. Maybe the celebration could be considered in the light of promoting educational outreach; or Juan could explain that it is a part of the group’s mission to support, and be committed to, the longevity and success of the university. Thus this anniversary event is very much collaborative with the organization’s objectives. Yet, it seems that Juan was unable to garner sufficient enthusiasm and commitment from his team. Additionally, It was up to Juan to define individual objectives; if specific assignments are not given out, nothing will be accomplished. It sounds like Juan missed this vital step as well.
Further, it seems clear that Juan did not do all of his homework. The funds and resources the team had to work with were undetermined; therefore much time was wasted in considering ideas such as a concert that would not have been feasible. By the time Juan realized they were short sufficient resources for a concert, the team only had three weeks left to have a finished product. With meetings only once per week, that is not nearly adequate time.
That leads into Juan’s next failure: the failure to be proactive. If time—and number of members—is short, increase the number of meetings, find outside help, and figure out how to tweak the project so that it can be accomplished by the deadline. Of course, being proactive earlier on would have made things easier: instead of shooting down the concert idea completely and causing panic, maybe the team could brainstorm a way to make the concert fit the budget. (Different venue? Different band/performer? Fundraise?) Tackling the problem in this manner may have kept the team fully intact.
Finally, Juan was clearly ineffective at rallying his team when frustration and disappointment was plaguing it. The point when a team’s morale plummets is a leader’s most important moments, the time when a leader is needed most. Juan’s half-hearted attempt to ‘facilitate another brainstorming activity’ was never going to be received well by a team who just learned that their brainstorming thus far had not produced good results. It was up to Juan at that point to initiate the flow of ideas, of alternate solutions, of a path to success. Maybe remind the group why they are part of this project (back to my first point) and why commitment to carry through with it is so critical. Obviously, failure to establish these points when the team first started the project makes this rally all the more difficult.
All of these missteps add up to one thing: poor leadership. This shows that being a leader by title is not enough. One must accept not only the authority of leadership, but also the responsibility.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Another issue that caused the group to fall through was the group itself. The lack of interest they had towards the end is something that should not happen. Missions are all about helping out other people and their own feelings and emotions towards their leader distracted them. The main idea that should be understood in a committee is when the goal is to help others out its imperative to remember TO HELP OTHERS OUT! Even though the committee was upset they should have set their feelings aside and look at the real matter at hand which was, “to sponsor educational outreach and peer tutoring to chemistry major.”
Now looking at the leader, Juan, there are many issues that could have been dealt with before the group crumbled. Juan started off the on the wrong foot, he did not really relay the purpose of the mission at all. He started off with brainstorming where the group thought of concerts and benches. Neither idea that was stated relates to the mission at hand. It would have made a lot more sense if the reason they hosted a concert to raise money to sponsor the chemistry majors. Concerts are always fun they attract a large audience so if they kept going down this creative route with the mission in mind they probably would have come up with something.
Juan seemed a little over his head in this one. From the beginning I feel as if was unsure with knowing how to lead. If it that were the case he should have realized that he might have not been the best leader and stepped down from his position. Everyone is a leader regardless of the title they have or don’t have and anyone in the committee or outside of the committee would have been better prepared to run meetings and run the mission.
The whole team should have worked better together and there should have been a leader that understood the purpose of the committee, in charge. It boils down to getting a group of individuals that work progressively and productively together and a leader that knows what to do and how to attack certain obstacles. From there it goes into how well the group and leader work together on the same level with ongoing fluent communication.
Like Arlen mentioned, Juan did not stay on task while planning for the event. Juan needed to be clear on what the goal of the one-hundredth anniversary was for and he wasn’t. Putting on a concert or buying a bench does not show how successful the peer-tutoring program has been. There
Jobs should have been designated at the first meeting. The entire team should have been assigned to come up with ideas for the event during the first meeting. Juan should have had some ideas so the group could see an example of what an acceptable event would be.
The team then should have voted on the top three event plans. The team then should have been split up to research an event plan focusing on the budget and time and bring this information to the second meeting. Research is a big part of finding out whether or not an event is feasible and realistic.
There was also no communication via email, blog, or facebook outside of the meeting. When planning a big event constant communication is important for the event’s success. If the team were to post their research for the top three events on a blog page, they could all be ready to take the next steps in voting for the top event and execute plans in the second meeting. As team leader Juan needed to be in charge of this and oversee/check in with each research group.
The team’s frustration is understandable. There were many problems that could have been prevented with better planning, but to walk out on a meeting shows a lack of concern and pride for the organization. If the team does not care enough to stay and work out issues at a meeting, how can they expect others to care enough to donate to the peer tutoring organization? Juan lost control of his team from the first meeting. He did not have a clear direction for the team, so the team didn’t follow Juan; they left.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Most of what the article by Paul Martin Lester focuses on is the anxiety part of public speaking. I think even the most outgoing people get jittery every now and then about speaking in front of a group of people. Lester has some great pointers in his article to help with the overcoming process of public speaking anxiety. I think it is important to address this topic because it certainly is a part of life that many people struggle with, but with proper teaching can turn into a positive learning experience and a practice in overcoming.
I have been involved in the theatre since third grade, attended a performing arts high school for acting, and am currently a directing major here at Uarts. I am terrified of public speaking. I have an extremely difficult time putting my thoughts and explanations into words. It's incredibly frustrating and I become impatient with myself and disappointed in my inability to articulate. While reading the article, I found that I am often in the position Lester was in during his undergraduate years in the classroom.
Over several years, I've become exceedingly more comfortable with speaking in a classroom setting, and just speaking in general, but even so, I'm still in the process of overcoming my own public speaking anxiety. It's much more difficult for me to make my presence known in a group of people I don't know well. I have to constantly remind myself that I have worthwhile questions to ask and responses to make. Lester's tips were good reminders for me and great starting points for others who suffer with anxiety.
In addition, Blanca's time management presentation last week can also be a helpful aspect of public speaking. For those of us who do have speaking anxiety, time management can be used for preparation and rehearsing beforehand. Time management also forces organization which as I said previously is a crucial aspect of public speaking.
"Learning to Live with Public Speaking Anxiety" by Paul Martin Lester made me feel ok about my lack of comfort on this topic. It's reassuring to know that even Lester, who now speaks in front of hundreds of people, once had an equally difficult time with speaking publicly.
When I think of public speaking, I think about Nabokov’s theory on writing. The writer must be the enchanter, teacher, and storyteller. When it comes to speaking, I tend to enchant the audience by being warm, receptive, and making them feel comfortable. I embody the storyteller by adding personal anecdotes where I can and inviting the audience to be a friend and inviting them to be apart my conversation. As the teacher, I tell the audience what I need to tell them, once I enchant them with my storytelling.
I agree with the author when they said public speaking must be practiced. Everyone has a different style of speaking and communicating and not one way is the correct way. When speaking, the speaker suddenly becomes aware of their vulnerabilities. Personally, one of my insecurities is my voice. I hate the way my voice sounds, especially when its on a microphone. My first and natural reaction is "Oh God!" but I just do it and have fun.
I feel also know, as a speaker, you have to know how to engage your audience and keep their attention. Some leaders, due to their personality and leadership style are boring to listen too; while others are more energetic and charismatic, which always engages audience. Depending on the way your culture is and who you are talking too, the way you engage them and communicate can either help or harm your presentation and how they receive your message.
As far as time management, I find myself never spending too much time practicing for a speech. I just give it. Most of time is dedicated to researching and knowing the facts that I'll be speaking about. By knowing the facts, you'll be confident and comfortable and everything will fall into place.
I've learned throughout my public speaking character that I'm pretty good at it and that you must always engage your audience and paint a story with your words; you're speech must have an easy structure and a beginning, middle, and end. Most importantly, you have to be confident and take your time; just imagine you are having a conversation. That’s all public speaking is: a conversation
Most of us believe parts of life are inherently stressful. In fact, most of us have been taught to believe that life as a whole is very stressful! To deal with any type of stress effectively, you first must understand that life itself, including public speaking, is NOT inherently stressful. Thousands of human beings have learned to speak in front of groups with little or no stress at all. Many of these people were initially terrified to speak in public. Their knees would shake, their voices would tremble, their thoughts would become jumbled . . . you know the rest. Yet they learned to eliminate their fear of public speaking completely. You are no more or less human than they are. If they can conquer the fear of public speaking, so can you! It just takes the right guiding principles, the right understanding, and the right plan of action to make this goal a reality.
I'm starting to understand what hinders me from being a good public speaker, but I'm still not a master at public speaking though. It's still a skill that I'm working on. When I look back at that experience, It makes me utilize the 24 hours I have in a day. This breaks down into 1440 minutes. Each person gets the same amount. I can't save them like vacation days. When they are over, the time is gone. Whether I spent my time wisely or foolishly, it doesn't matter, I can't get it back. So, if I can't manage "time", what can I manage? I believe public speaking anxiety can be cured.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Public speaking is definitely something I struggle with, but only in certain situations. It depends on two factors: my confidence of my knowledge in the topic, and how intimidated I feel by my peers and/or professor. If I have a lot to say, then I am eager to vocalize it, and have no problem doing so. But if I am in a group of people whom I hope to impress or I care how they judge me, then I get nervous and sometimes don’t speak up even if I want to contribute something. I have always wanted to impress my teachers, perhaps more so than my peers; thus intimidating teachers give me the most anxiety.
The first formal speech I remember doing was in my freshman year English class. We were to prepare a five-minute discourse on a theme/aspect of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I have a vivid memory of this speech, not only of my actual presentation but of preparing for it as well—because I was completely worked up over it. I ended up doing well; my anxiety caused me to be, if anything, over-prepared. I remember rehearsing it over and over, timing myself, tweaking words and phrases each time, and then going over it in my head before it was my turn during class instead of listening to others’ speeches.
That assignment garnered my confidence in public speaking. In fact, overconfidence a couple of times led to being underprepared and suffering embarrassment and a lower grade. Over time, I had learned that preparation was absolutely critical for me to succeed in public speaking, as Lester implies in his article, “Learning to Live With Public Speaking Anxiety.” I would watch people “wing it” in front of the class/audience and succeed—and I would think wistfully about how I am simply not one of those people that can speak so well spontaneously when under pressure. This is the reason I never took debate—I always chickened out because I knew it involved a level of spontaneity under pressure that I could never do.
But I’ve always wanted to be good at that! Can it be learned? I would try to learn by arguing all the time with my brother (who is a great speaker/debater—he should be a lawyer); I always lost the argument. And not because I was wrong! In my head I know I have solid ideas, I’m just not able to vocalize them on the spot. Those debates with my brother always brought about little regrets because I would think of things later that I should have said—that would have won me the argument. Unfortunately life doesn’t often give second chances. Upon reflection, though, I think practicing like that has helped me improve. I still don’t win debates with my brother, but I’m better and I think he sees that sometimes: instead of shooting down every statement I make, he’s started to hear me out more, pay my opinions more respect.
And I think that is why I have tried so hard to become a better speaker: I want people to listen. It’s frustrating when all these ideas and opinions that I am passionate about are imprisoned in my head, so I have practiced trying to vocalize them in a convincing, effective way.
The place in which I got the most practice—and from which I progressed the most in public speaking ability—was in my junior-year history class. My teacher, Mr. Melbach, was the most intimidating teacher I’ve ever had. I revered him so much that I was terrified of saying anything “stupid” in his presence. Not only was it the expectation that we contribute to all daily class discussions, but each class he would randomly pick four or five students to stand up in front of the class and give an “oral.” He would ask the student a question over the material or subject matter and she would have to answer on the spot. Each student would be called upon to do an oral about six times per semester; they made up fifty percent of our grade. He didn’t care whether you were afraid of public speaking or not; in his opinion, it was a necessary skill, and if you just “sucked it up” and did it over and over again you would learn. I think he was right. My orals improved progressively over the year, and my grade reflected it. My classmates showed likewise improvements.
This example is why I disagree with some of Lester’s assertions. He suggests writing out questions/comments and giving them to the teacher after class instead of vocalizing them during the discussion; he recommends preparing questions to bring to the discussion beforehand, or doing virtual discussions via e-mail. While I agree that those methods often lead to higher success rates, I don’t think it prepares us for public speaking under pressure that life will inevitably demand. I always did well when I prepared speeches by rehearsing them again and again, but life certainly does not always give you that opportunity. It is a different—and I would say more valuable—skill to be able to react and speak quickly to unexpected or unknown material. And nothing can teach you to do that except practice.
I wouldn’t say that I’m deathly afraid of public speaking, but as a child I was extremely shy; rarely speaking up in class or raising my hand. Overtime I’ve come out of my shell. True when you first meet me I still come off as being shy, quiet and introverted. But once you get to know me I become more talkative. Not to say that I’m the one who is always the center of attention around my closest friends, I’ve always been the listener more than the one who contributes a lot to the conversation.
After reading Lester’s article it made me understand how for some, public speaking can be such a problem. I think everyone can relate to an extent, no one wants to look stupid when they have a huge presentation to give in front of the class, or when you have a speech to give amongst a large crowd. Everyone has the fear of looking flustered or incompetent in front of anyone. Sometimes I think it’s hard to think up a clever answer or rebuttal on the spot. I never really enjoyed debates in high school, for one it made me feel completely self conscious of being on the spot and having all my classmates look at me and two, I was always afraid I wasn’t going to have anything smart to say or be able to argue quickly enough.
Group discussions I enjoyed more. I think topics that I’m interested in make me feel more motivated to be a part of the conversation rather than something I know nothing about or have very little interest in. For those people Lester mentioned who get light headed, red in the face and dizzy at even the thought of speaking in class, I think the most important thing to do is approach your professor like Lester mentioned. If the teacher knows there is a problem, it won’t cause an issue later on or hinder your work performance.
I think children and young adults tend to forget that even adults are petrified of talking in public, face to face or in front of a group. Over the years I’ve become less self-conscious about what other people think or say, most of the time it’s just all in my head. What helps me is to ask questions. This helps me feel more confident about speaking up in class, my teachers know that I care about the course and also know I’m paying attention.
Ever since coming to Uarts I have definitely learned to speak up for myself. Whether it’s asking questions in class, emailing my teachers or calling someone on the phone, it’s important to communicate and keep informed in any type of way. Being able to communicate with people in all sorts of settings is necessary. Public speaking is just one of the many forms of communication that people use in order to get their feelings and messages across. I enjoyed reading Lester’s article, it made me sympathize with those that find it harder to speak in public and helped me realize everyone gets a little nervous.
My sophomore year has been a little different from freshman year and high school. During the beginning of school year I was really excited to start off exploring my passion for photography and meeting new classmates. After kicking off first semester I found myself getting tongue-tied, sweaty palms, heart pounding, light headed kind of nervous. I tried to slap myself out of it (not literally), but it wouldn’t work. I tried to think of puppies and other happy thoughts to get my mind off of the anxiety that was building up every time I had to introduce myself to a new group of classmates. I couldn’t understand why I would get so nervous, I knew nothing bad would happen if I stood up in front of a class and talked about myself and who I am, but yet my emotions thought otherwise. I started to hate participating in class; I started to push aside my good ideas because of the anxiety I could not control.
Now it being second semester I think I have realized what it was that has been getting me so nervous. I think it has been just getting comfortable with a group of people that I know nothing about and vice versa. Throughout high school I knew everyone and I was comfortable with sharing my ideas as they formulated in my head. Freshman year I was surrounded with the same group of people in every class it was the same section and I learned to gain confidence when it came to speaking in front of them.
This year it’s completely different. I have six classes and in each class there is not one person that I have another class with. I have had to adjust with the change and I think its been baby steps, but being out of that comfort zone and throwing my ideas into an open class discussion with peers I have never met and know nothing about it good for me. Experiencing new people and the ideas that they bring to the table has been a positive change that I now enjoy and look forward to hearing. Class discussions still get me a little nervous, but it gives me a chance to listen to others, breathe in, gather my thoughts, and respond with a more self-assured answer and being.
I have related much with Paul Lester through his article Learning to Live with Public Speaking Anxiety. Reading about professionals that speak almost everyday and still getting nervous has assured me that I’m not alone in this. I grabbed a lot of information that I will use from his list of suggestions to help with anxiety. My next challenge is to not get nervous with the public introduction during our Wednesday class. I think I should be fine, being nervous might be distraction but I have learned its something that is possible to overcome.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Throughout school I have always had a problem with participating in class. I would often get teacher comments saying that I was insightful and could add more to class discussions. Although all of my teachers pointed this out to me, like Arlen, I didn’t feel like my voice made that much of a difference. If a teacher called on me, I would always have something to say but I never wanted to raise me hand to voice my opinions.
By the end of my freshman year in high school and seeing all of the leadership opportunities available, I wanted to get involved. I applied to be sophomore class co-president. I had to prepare a speech. I was confident in my writing abilities so I wasn’t worried about coming up with what I wanted to say; it was just the speaking part that made me nervous. I practiced my speech in front of the mirror and in front of my mom before I gave the speech to my class. Finally, on election day, I was shaking and I it felt like my heart was going to pound right out of my chest. I made a few jokes throughout my speech and when the entire room erupted into laughter I realized how I had the ability to get the reaction I wanted from people. I felt more comfortable and was proud of myself after conquering my fear of public speaking. I won the election and have been practicing public speaking ever since.
I soon began to think of public speaking as a performance. As a dancer I know how to prepare for a performance so I thought about how I could apply those same skills to public speaking. For dance I have to practice a lot to feel comfortable showing what I know, so in public speaking I know I need to practice my speech so I can feel prepared to speak. If I have notes prepared for class, I know I’ll have something to contribute to the conversation. Being prepared really helped me get over some of my anxiety.
In Paul Martin Lester’s article “Learning to Live With Public Speaking Anxiety” he had some tips for instructors, which I found interesting. As a student with public speaking anxiety I don’t always feel like I have resources or ways to express myself. I get worried that my participation grade in class will suffer because I’m not participating enough. I thought it was interesting how Lester put some responsibility in the instructor’s hands. It definitely helps when teachers ask to bring something to class. It gives me time to think over what I would like to share and I don’t feel put on the spot.
Time management is a great tool to ease public speaking anxiety. Preparedness and knowing exactly what you’re saying is half the battle of public speaking. Setting aside time to read a speech aloud or to prepare some notes before class can really help quell some anxiety. Also an understanding of culture can help with public speaking. In high school I understood “Dana Hall” culture so I was able to appeal to my classmates. Understanding culture is a great way to figure out what’s important to certain individuals and the ability to verbalize an appreciation for culture keeps people interested. I’m super nervous about the three minute intro assignment but I’m excited because it is yet another opportunity to improve my public speaking skills.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
It's interesting how much can be gained and lost by growing up. It seems fact that the longer you've been alive, the more you know, but comparing interviews with Bradlie Yanniello, a high school senior, and Jonathan Ouf, a 1st grader (with a 3rd grade reading level, he'll have everyone know), Jonathan has seemingly obvious points that Bradlie missed completely. As our minds mature, we often forget the simple things that carry the most importance. That being said, Bradlie was able to articulate the more complicated aspects of being a student leader and perhaps more practical ideas. (When asked what Jonathan had to offer to his classmates as a leader, he responded, "I can give DSI's and Macs to everyone I know and also, anything with my imagination").
The point is, leaders are learners and we must recognize that just as young leaders learn from us, we have just as much to learn from them. Leaders are the present, not the future. Today's leaders are the students who are still learning, still figuring out their goals, viewpoints, and passions, and contain a drive to set an example and make a statement. Student leaders aren't waiting around to step up their game for 'adulthood'; they're leading now.
Bradlie Yanniello is a senior at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts. Her role as a student leader is to ensure that "people can become more resourceful of what they have and more creative when these resources are not readily accessible". Bradlie believes that being a leader is being able to take command while still listening to the input of her peers and helping the whole to consider each others' thoughts. Jonathan stated simply: "A leader is like a captain".
Bradlie is interested in earning the trust of her peers before she can really appear to them as a leader. She says,"Taking on a leadership position makes you view people in a straight-forward way. Leading people makes you more aware of human behavior and how humans react to you, ultimately deciding how they will follow you". She also goes on to say that people all have their own way of leading and although educational leadership courses can be helpful to some, others are born leaders and ultimately, all leaders learn through experience.
Both Jonathan and Bradlie agree that being a student leader has different responsibilities than leaders who are out of school and/or older. Students have to earn a different kind of respect from their peers that our elders often gain automatically. Whereas Bradlie says that "You become a leader with experience, not calculus", Jonathan is very excited about the idea of college courses in leadership. He sees this as a "great opportunity to do lots of stuff". Jonathan's very optimistic about learning and although quite confident in his leadership skills, never defends himself at the thought of learning more skills.
The last question I asked in my interview was: What permanent changes do you plan on making in your school, community, or people? Jonathan replied: "To help people feel better and if they’re sad I can cheer them up. And that’s just a lot of great stuff." He responded as though it was an obvious answer. But isn't this really the core reason of why we are all leaders? To help people. We get so easily tangled in our maturing minds, looking for scholarly responses with big words and fancy ideas and we often look right past the most important and sincere answers. Children can state things so simply that adults, college students, and high school seniors like Bradlie strive to say in complicated and involved thoughts.
When everything is stripped away, we're leaders to help people. You don't need experience or wisdom to do that.