The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

D-LAB Kick-Off Session: Leadership from Within, Part One

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Participants during the kick-off session of D-LAB, Leadership from Within. Photo by Abigail Chen '17.

On January 26, the first meeting of D-LAB, Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors, kicked off with part one of the Leadership from Within session. Co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Center and the Collis Center for Student Involvement, Robin Frye and David Pack began with a quick explanation of the motivations behind creating the D-LAB program and what they hope the participants will gain from it. They then turned the session over to Austin Boral '17 and the other twenty-two student facilitators. The facilitators went on to explain in more detail some of D-LAB’s goals, which include providing an opportunity to reflect on one’s individual experiences at Dartmouth while still on campus and to effectively use the wide variety of resources provided by the college. Another goal is to create valuable time for first-year students to interact with upperclassman students in a positive manner.

Something that stuck out during the introduction was the phrase "What ever is said here, stays here. What ever is learned here, leaves here." By including this, the facilitators made the participants excited about the program while ensuring a safe place for discussion and reflection. D-LAB provides a platform for participants to share their experiences and learn from others experiences and also provides a great way to meet a lot of amazing people that you would have never met otherwise.





Participants during the kick-off session of D-LAB, Leadership from Within. Photo by Abigail Chen '17.

Before the session, participants were asked to fill out the "true colors test," a five-minute online test that asks participants to identify some character traits that most describe them and others that do not. Based on this test, participants were assigned a color: blue, green, gold or orange. While taking the test, participants had no idea what these colors meant. Following dinner, participants were split up into groups based on the color they were assigned and given one instruction: describe "how to bake a cake" on a large post-it board. The initial reaction from the participants was confusion. Many of the participants asked themselves, "What does baking a cake have to do with leadership?"

Despite this reaction, the different groups engaged in the task. Once everyone was done, the entire group reconvened and presented what their different groups came up with. Different groups approached this task in very different ways. Some simply drew a cake while others wrote a detailed account of how to bake a cake, including things like cake pan size and temperature needed to bake it.

The facilitators then went on to explain their observations on how each group approached the task and related this back to their color. Color turned out to represent different personality groups. As the facilitators described the differences in how groups approached this task, this seemingly random and mundane task started to make a lot more sense. The facilitators further further described the different characteristics of the color groups including their strengths, weaknesses, and leadership approachs. This was enlightening for the participants, and it was fascinating to see how most participants thought that the descriptions were extremely accurate.





Participants during the kick-off session of D-LAB, Leadership from Within. Photo by Abigail Chen '17.

For the last portion of the session, even smaller groups were created with a mix of people from the different color groups. These assignments are the permanent groups for the rest of the program and are each lead by two facilitators. In these groups, students were given the opportunity to reflect and share their feelings on the exercise in a less intimidating space. This learning experience for the participants was an opportunity to learn about themselves. It turns out that describing how to bake a cake says more about a person than expected.

-Written by Niamé Daffé '18, D-LAB Participant

This ongoing series shares the experiences of participants and facilitators in D-LAB (Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors), a student-facilitated program designed for first-year students to discover the relationship between leadership and personal values.



The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences