The Leadership Challenge

This semester, I am taking a class called “The Leadership Challenge.”  On the first day of class, we started by asking the questions: “What is a leader?”  “What characteristics does a leader have?”  “Who do you consider a leader in your life?” etc.  There are always people you know that you admire and look up to as a role model, but what TRULY makes a person a leader?

The first person that came to mind was my PR professor and faculty advisor for PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America).  Not only do people look up to him and admire him, but he is motivational, inspirational, and trustworthy.  When he has an idea, people take him seriously.  When he said he will do something to help you out, he will ACTUALLY do it (for example, I needed a recommendation letter last minute once, and he had it to me in less than a week).  When you work on a project with him and seek his advice, not only does he provide great ideas, but he is always confident that it will get done.  As they say, he “walks the talk.”

At my last internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, my supervisor was looked upon as a leader.  Whenever I said that I was his intern, I was immediately taken more seriously because of his positive reputation.  He had proven himself throughout the years to others and shown that he was dedicated to his work and helping others, reliable, and truly an inspiration.  When someone needed help on an assignment, they knew they could count on him for insight and a job well done.

When I look at the reputation of these two leaders, I strive to act in the same way.  I try to motivate and inspire others and show that I will complete tasks that I say I will complete.  I try to ask everyone’s opinion about certain topics before moving onto a different discussion.  I try to show others that I am trustworthy.  I try to “walk the talk.”  A true leader is able to show these qualities and more to not only complete tasks by himself/herself but to inspire confidence in others.

I started reading the textbook for the semester called The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (http://www.leadershipchallenge.com/WileyCDA/).  They cite examples from corporate executives where these leaders did not show that they were working hard to earn a promotion but because they truly cared about their work and their cause.  They speak about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.  By employing these 5 examples (and of course expanding on their meanings), companies are able to perform better and leaders are able to set a better example.

What does the word “leader” mean to you?

Business and Communications

For so long I was told not to pursue a dual degree with Business Administration and Communications.  Advisors told me there was no overlap and more work than what it was worth.  Even though it has made my schedule much busier than I expected, I have found many similarities between the classes I am taking in both schools.  Marketing models are discussed in communications classes.  Social media is discussed in Information Systems classes.  Corporate Communications and Organizational Behavior are discussed in both schools.  The overlap has really proved to be endless.  And to cap it off, professionals in both fields point out the benefits of having these two degrees.

The similarities first became apparent to me last year in my Corporate Communications and Organizational Behavior classes.  In both classes, the culture of an organization and its importance was discussed in detail.  When people apply for jobs, it is vital to identify the culture and see whether or not it fits a person’s lifestyle.  There was an example presented to us in OB where a former student chose a job with an open cubicle where he could communicate with others in a more comfortable fashion as oppose to being shut in a private room with bleak walls.  At my first internship, the culture was open and friendly.  The cubicles were all in a big room, and all of the VPs kept their doors open.  Employees were constantly talking across the room and over their cubicles, and the environment was relaxed and comfortable.

Over the summer, my internship involved communications from a business perspective.  I interacted with employees across departments are truly witnessed firsthand the importance of having a business and communications background.  My daily tasks involved aspects of what I had learned in my classes.  Yes, the Corporate Communications and Organizational Behavior classes came into play, as they would at any internship, but my PR, accounting, and statistics classes helped me to further understand the assignments at hand.

Finally, today the connection became evident.  I have already seen my Information Systems class having the potential to benefit other Communications students.  We have discussed building a website, the uses of social media, and other ways to market a person online.  We also touched upon the use of the Internet for small businesses.  This topic brought me back to an old blog post of mine from August 18th, which highlighted a “New York Times” article discussing the benefits of Twitter to small businesses.  We talked about how small businesses are getting the edge over their larger competitors through marketing themselves online.  It is cheaper, easier, and truly makes a difference.  My professor pointed out a bike shop in Newton, Massachusetts that markets internationally to its customers because it does not have much success locally.  All of this information seems to fall quite closely to the blurred lines between business and communications.

So I’m not trying to write this blog post to prove my advisors wrong (even though it accomplishes that as well), but I want to show the interesting aspects of two disciplines that fit so well together.  Combining these two degrees is not like studying two different areas but really intersecting similar interests.