In December 2010, I will be graduating from Marquette University with degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and entering the business world. How should I spend my last summer of "freedom"? I knew right away I wanted to spend it with Lead America. Lead America is the nation's premier youth leadership organization. I decided to be a Team Leader for the Global Business and Entrepreneurship program. I felt confident about the summer since I am a Lead America alumni myself. I also worked as a Team Leader for the same program in the summer of 2008. However, part of me was nervous. New students, new venue (I have never been to Columbia). Before I knew it, all my worries disappeared.
From the very first day, I saw a lot of potential in my Team B. One of the first activities we do as a team is a game called Warp Speed. The students stand in a circle and toss a tennis ball to one another. The rules are that Person A must say the name of Person B and toss the ball to him or her. Person B responds by thanking Person A and throwing the ball to Person C. This game is designed to get students to remember each others names and is highly effective because it connects a name with a face. To make it more challenging, I often times introduce 3 balls to make it more difficult. Needless to say, High School students (as well as any other group of individuals) struggles with this game. Even though my team struggled in the beginning, they were able to accomplish the task in a surprisingly quick manner, and had each other's names memorized by the end of the game. That simple game showed me that this team is willing to work together and make an effort to be successful. Like my previous team, we had 3 good ideas for a product but couldn't decide on a winner. It was taking us a long time to make up our mind and I was trying to push the team to make a decision and move on. The most difficult part for my team occurred when a few members felt like they were being attacked by another member who they felt was being "too bossy". A confrontation occurred and team morale was down. I also noticed that cliques were forming on my team. To solve the first issue, I pulled my president and 4 VPs aside (the two members who had the confrontation were both VPs) and we talked about respect and ways to make this team stronger. After a healthy, positive conversation, they assured me they were ready to move on. I also addressed my team as a whole about the cliques. I told them that in the past, my teams were always the most cohesive and well bonded and that I will not accept cliques on my team. As the days progressed and the students continued to work on the business plan, all 17 members formed a close bond as if applied with magical glue. Members would come up to me and say "I think we have the best team. We are the closest team in the conference." I couldn't help but smile. I also pride myself on having a well behaved and respectful team, and despite a number of behavioral issues throughout the conference, I am happy to say that my team was not involved in any of them. Furthermore, many students on the team had very outgoing, vibrant personalities that made every event seem more exciting. I will forever remember their smiling faces and the way they transformed the team to become the closest and best team in the conference.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams