The Importance of Understanding Your Own Leadership Strengths

On September 14th, Jay Davis ’90, the coordinator for the First Year Student Enrichment Program and the King Scholars Program, shared valuable words of wisdom with respect to the flexibility and thoughtful reflection necessary to create cohesive group environments with the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Davis spoke from a number of previous experiences working within a range of group and leadership setting, and engaging students in an interactive discussion on how our own leadership styles and tendencies affect how we are able to work with one another to achieve goals we collectively establish.

He began the session by having each student share with the group a characteristic they find essential to exemplary leadership. Students provided a range of attributes, from humility to constructive communication. He, then, had us consider a time we found another person’s leadership challenging, alluding to the idea that conflicting leadership styles can impede group cohesion and effectiveness.

The second part of the session was devoted to understanding our own leadership styles, strengths, and weaknesses through an activity framed around cardinal directions. We were asked to divide into groups and answer questions on leadership style based on descriptions provided for the four directions.  The North group was driven to accomplish, the West group was detail-oriented, the East group was big-picture thinkers, and the South group was compassionate.

Together, we discussed the importance of valuing the role of the other directions in a group, as all of these characteristics together are essential for groups to accomplish team goals.  We were asked to pick a secondary direction. It was interesting to see the diversity of leadership strengths, while at the same time acknowledging areas of needed growth in the directions not chosen in order to become a well-rounded leader. Jay Davis was engaging, enthusiastic, and energetic: he ushered in a wonderful start to Rockefeller Leadership Fellows.

- Written by Arati Gangadharan, Class of 2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow

This is part of an ongoing series of student reflections about the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows (RLF) program.