On Friday, January 20th 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the SPARK Leadership Experience, hosted by the Leadership Institute. This is one-day leadership seminar designed to help emerging leaders on campus discover and develop their leadership styles and abilities. This event was required as a part of my Leadership Advancement Scholar protocol, but by the end of the day, it is an experience I certainly would not have wanted to miss out on.
The event started with all of the participants taking a personality quiz of sorts. The test asked us a variety of questions about our leadership style, how we felt in certain situations, and about some of our personality traits. By answer these questions as accurately as possible, it would then tell us what kind of leader we were; spirited, considerate, direct, or systematic.
Prior to answering these questions, I was almost certain that I would be a considerate leader. I am little more soft spoken than the rest of my cohort, and I would like to believe that I am considerate to those around me. Besides, I didn’t really feel that any of the others really fit me.
Alas! I was wrong. Upon examination of my scores, I was determined to be…a spirited leader! I was shocked! I looked at all the other people in the spirited leader group and I did not see how fit in with this extremely extroverted group of people. Upon looking at some of the characteristics of a spirited leader, however, I saw some characteristics that fit me perfectly. A spirited leader is one who continually motivates and encourages their followers, and one who is very passionate about the things that they do. I may not be as loud as my fellow leaders, but I was just as spirited.
While talking about our strengths as spirited leaders, one of the things I liked that we did was talk about the pitfalls of being spirited leaders. Sometimes, we get a little TOO excited about the things that we do. We want our followers to be just as engaged as we are that we sometimes forget to take a step back and take a breath. I am a person who likes to stay constantly busy and up-beat; I need to remember that people need a break sometimes.
I learned a lot from this experience; I learned about different styles of leadership and their interpretations, about myself as a leader, and about others. First of all, I learned that there are many different kinds of ‘spirited’ leaders. One does not have to be loud and in your face to defined as spirited; SPARK taught me that energy can come in many different forms. It comes in passion, and how you make others feel that same passion for what they are doing. If the people you are leading see that their leader is passionate, then they will feed off that energy. If they know that you care, and physically see that enthusiasm (no matter how loud or vocal you are about it, as I had previously thought) then they will care as well.
Every leader is different; there may only be four categories of leaders, but each and every leader molds their own style to fit them best. And that is what I learned and will take away from SPARK. Leaders have to accept that they are different, and they cannot try to force themselves to act like others. I just need to be my own version of a spirited leader.