For undergraduate students, participation in clubs and organizations is often a journey of learning leadership skills, supervising peers, and navigating conflict and problem-solving on an organizational level. Navigating these experiences often develops soft skills and learning experiences for our students. As a student affairs professional, it is important to guide the students through these experiences. In our program at Warner, it is common to share ideas for team building, professional development, and problems our undergraduate students are facing. What is less common, is to discuss these things among our co-workers and with our students. When forming a close group of student leaders, some programs now use leadership books focusing on vulnerability, motivation, and team dynamics to guide and lead discussions about difficult topics. The use of these books and techniques has long been used in the student affairs profession, but as we begin to work with student leaders, we recognize their desire to learn about leading effectively and it is our responsibility to provide them with these skills and opportunities.
As a graduate assistant, I have participated in a discussion led by my colleague on vulnerability based on Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. As a group, we were able to stimulate discussions related to our work and personal experiences, bringing us together over a common subject. I will be hosting my first discussion next month, incorporating a few TED talks from pioneers in leadership strategies and using this experience to also grow personally and professionally. I will be reading the book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek, famed for his book and TED talk — Start With Why.
I look forward to updating everyone on the success and learning experience of both leading and participating in these discussions. What I love most about my work in student affairs is how both professionals and students have a lot to learn from each other. I’m excited for this journey!