D-LAB Recap: Freshmen Balance Their Characters by Selecting Presidential Campaign Running Mates

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.

For Session Two of the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behavior Program (D-LAB), we expanded our conversation about leadership from knowing oneself to knowing others. Entitled "Know Your Friends," participants needed to submit real-life scenarios that would serve as the focal points to discussion. The essence of that main discussion, however, may be gleaned from responses to our opening question.

From the first hypothetical—“If you were running for president, whom would you choose as your running mate?”—critical, leadership-focused thought flowed. Choices fell almost perfectly into one of two categories: visionaries whose values and character qualities were clearly defined by public service, or family members whose values and character qualities shared over a lifetime of experience. As Julia Marino ’17 explained when she suggested her father as her ideal running mate, “he would balance out my character very well.”

Participants needed to recognize two important factors. Our first session focused on knowing one's own personality and leadership qualities, and the lessons from that session resurfaced when Julia recognized certain characteristics were needed to complement her own leadership skills. Just as important, though, was her recognition of her father’s character, based on her experience perceiving the impact of his actions.

The second recognition launched our discussion of the importance of knowing your friends in the context of leadership. One cannot lead without followers, and knowing that others’ perceptions, starting with your friends, are not always congruent with one’s self-perception, one can consciously select follower by shaping that perception. In other words, Julia knew that picking her father could win over supporters and thus win her the presidency.

Who will your Vice President be?

--John Howard '15, D-LAB Student Facilitator