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

DP2 (@DartmouthPeak) at MLDP: Leading through Action

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.

On April 23, 2013, Assistant Athletics Director for Leadership Steven Spaulding led the Rockefeller Center’s Management and Leadership Development Program session entitled “Dartmouth Peak Performance (DP2) at MLDP:  Leading through Action.” In a change of pace, we relocated to the Gold Coast lawn for leadership and team building exercises. There were 4 stations set up on the lawn, each having a tree, three long wooden logs, four small wooden rods, a tarp, lots of rope, and a pocketknife. Additionally there were two wooden planks with ropes sets of ropes attached. 

Mr. Spaulding told us to get into 4 different groups and go to a station. We then chose a group leader who reported to Mr. Spaulding to receive our assignment. We were informed that we had to use the materials at hand to build a shelter against the tree. At the same time, using the two wooden planks, the entire group, in sections, eventually had to walk on the planks and make a lap around all the building stations. Just as our shelter was beginning to look complete and the first group was coming back on the planks, Mr. Spaulding called back all the leaders and had them relay the message to take apart our shelters and move into a different group configuration, so that we all had new group members. Again, we began building and repeated the process, only to be told eventually to move into yet another group configuration. Each time the switch occurred, Mr. Spaulding gave new groups leaders additional information on how to improve the shelter structure. Finally we were told to go back to our original groups and finally competed to build the best shelter. Every time I tore down the shelter on which I had worked hard to build, I reflected on the need to be flexible with one’s tasks due to changing circumstances.
MLDP participant David Wylie ’15 reflected, “I enjoyed the uniqueness of last night's session in the context of MLDP because we actually got to operationalize the skills that we are developing in a different environment. Mr. Spaulding's clear concept of leadership and mental toughness was refreshing and certainly resonated with me as workable ideas with which to move forward.”
This exercise illuminated Mr. Spaulding’s definition of a leader as someone who can work at his/her full skill level independent of changes in circumstance. Moreover, the fact that group leaders had to literally help the rest of their group visualize the shelter they would build reinforced Mr. Spaulding’s definition of a leader as someone who helped a group of people visualize and actualize a shared goal. 

- Written by Zachary Kamin '14

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