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Annarose Zelano
Sep 28, 2016

RISD LEADS - Know Your Why..Speaking From Your Values When Things Get Crucial

Sep 28, 2016 by Annarose Zelano

          On Monday, September 19th, RISD LEADS opened up it’s Fall 2016 semester with an interactive session facilitated by URI’s Assistant Director of the Center for Student Leadership Development, Melissa Boyd Colvin. Boyd’s session was focused on learning about oneself and core values so they can be put into practice, even when faced with the conflict of working with those with opposing styles and values.

          As attendees walked into the Tap Room, they were greeted by a table covered in rocks that were engraved with different words. Everyone was instructed to pick up a rock that “spoke” to them and bring it back to their table. The session started off with attendees sharing out what rock they chose and why the word on it spoke to them. Some words shared out included harmony, dream, trust, and faith. After this share out, Melissa brought up the Values in Action Self Assessment that one can take that brings out your character strengths. This self assessment as well as picking words on rocks is one tool that can help one establish their core strengths as a leader.

          Melissa brought up the common experience RISD students have of working together in groups on projects, whether it be for class, a club, or any other circumstance outside of the studio. One frequent occurrence for working in groups is working with people who have different opinions, work styles, and core values that they lead with. For a more concrete example, Boyd then had attendees get into groups and complete a task with specific instructions. Everyone had to hold up a hoola-hoop with their fingers and keep them there the entire time while trying to bring the hoop to the ground, all while under a time constraint. Although it sounds easy, the task gets complicated the lower the hoop is brought to the ground, and anytime a finger is lifted off of it, the team must start over from the top. Once time was up, the groups shared out and debriefed on how they were successful, how they communicated, and what wasn’t successful.

          There was then a larger group discussion on what they like in a leader’s communication as well as triggers in communication. Some of the triggers mentioned were being not enough or too animated, being too loud or too quiet, being vague, their use of space, and not being able to tell if they are listening.

          The activity as well as discussion of leader communication skills brought up the conversation of how everyone has their own preference what does and does not work for them in terms of leadership communication. Boyd then mentioned that it is your values, communication patterns and triggers that develop your relationship with others when you are the leader or being led so it is important to be aware of each of them.

          Attendees then had the chance to do a quick 33 question assessment to see how they react to crucial conversations, whether they respond with silence or violence. Boyd emphasized that one response type is not better than another, but that being aware of your own behavior and reasons behind it are what is important.

          To close the session, Melissa highlighted the importance of knowing one’s “why” and core values to be the best possible leader they can be. Along with knowing yourself, it is essential to understand that others may lead with a different “why” or core values and how to navigate working together. Knowing what makes you tick and why you like, dislike, and react to things the way you do as well as how to work with others is a key method behind working well with others and ultimately leading to their best potential.