I was granted the opportunity to attend a Spark Leadership series held right here on CMU’s campus. What is SPARK? It is a day-long workshop geared towards self-discovery and recognition. Here you learn to tap into your unused potential and discover what type of leader you are on campus.
Spark to me was such a rewarding experience because student leaders from all types of different involvements and class standings came together to learn and grow their own leadership qualities.
The day was filled with connecting with new students on campus, situational learning, and speakers that helped grow our knowledge of leadership and what they have learned about growing as a leader.
My biggest takeaway from my SPARK experience was the assessment that helped us decipher what our personal leadership style is. There are four general categories of leadership styles: Direct, Spirited, Considerate, and Systematic.
Direct Leader: A direct leader is someone who’s natural instinct is to take charge. They enjoy competition and they work hard to produce quick results. They are energetic and make sure people are always moving and productive, and are always willing to step up to a challenge.
Spirited Leader: A spirited leader is a ‘big picture’ person. They are vision oriented thinkers, who are great at generating enthusiasm. They constantly motivate others to develop fresh, new approaches, they rally support, and create a fun atmosphere for everyone.
Considerate Leader: A considerate leader is someone who makes sure everyone is accommodated for. They provide a sense of reassurance in difficult times, builds a loyal following through their constant support, and are skilled in maintaining a team’s harmony.
Systematic Leader: A systematic leader provides structure for activities, makes sure no details are overlooked, and are always focused on objectivity and accuracy.
Throughout my time at the SPARK series, I learned that I am a considerate leader. I always am trying to make sure that each voice is heard, and that everyone feels that their role on the team is important and necessary. I am an active listener, I work well with others, I am patient with my teammates, and I value each of my relationships. My work style in a team setting is collaborative and flexible, and I am a team player.
While it was nice to be recognized for what I do well as a leader, the most beneficial part of SPARK was learning where some of my shortcomings were and how I can work on them. Being a considerate leader I can be resistant to change because of my desire to keep things comfortable. My support might sometimes take away from dealing with situations quickly, and my willingness to accommodate others may cause me to give in on important issues. I find that knowing I am susceptible to these things based on my leadership style definitely makes me more aware of what I am doing in group settings. Now I make sure that I am not too focused on everyone’s feelings that I lose sight of the task at hand, and that I am open minded to people’s new strategies and ideas.
Another important thing I took away from SPARK is that I won’t always be one type of leader, it can vary from situation to situation, and my style may change as I grow and mature. Being aware of the fact that not everyone leads in the same way that I do opened my eyes to when I may not understand why others do things the way they do, and overall made me more aware and understanding.
Overall I will take away my strengths and weaknesses I have as a leader, strategies to better my abilities, and the connections that I made with people on campus. I highly recommend the SPARK Leadership series, because no matter who you are or what you may be involved in, there is something in this workshop you can take away from.