Recently, last month, a group of campus leaders, including myself, along with Jae Ellison and Dean Miller, traveled to Gettysburg for a two day leadership workshop. The Gettysburg Leadership Experience is this incredible way to engage student leaders and help them grow in their roles by approaching education from the angle of the epic battle of Gettysburg. We spent the better part of the first day taking a tour of the battlefield with our darling tour guide Sue who not only explained the historical context of the battle, but then referenced that back to our collegiate domain. Throughout the tour and activities to follow, some key phrases stuck out in our group's debrief such as "challenge the process," and my personal favorite "be an authentic leader."
I'm pretty bubbly. When introducing me for a tour, my boss in Admissions loves to joke, "As you can tell, Sophie's rather shy." My leadership style is loud, crazy, hands-on, and energetic. I like to start all of my Campus Activities Board General Meetings with a game like "Name that Tune" or "Paper Airplane Facts" (one of my own creations). I wear a lot of polka dots and can sometimes run off on funny anecdotes in the middle of meetings because I believe what brings a team together is knowing each other on a personal level so you can admire one another on a professional level.
For a while, I used to think that because I wasn't "tough" or didnt hold a firm demeanor in my meetings meant that I was somehow not as good of a leader as my counterparts or peers. I used to think you had to wear a pinstripe suit to be successful. But part of what I learned at Gettysburg is the idea that people will respect you as a leader because they recognize your authenticity. They will appreciate how genuine you are in your leadership style, and they will not only listen to you, but want to emulate that in themselves. Not only do I want to embody my true self in my leadership qualities, but I want to then spread that idea to others. Part of what I love so much about being a campus leader is that I'm training future leaders. Leaving a legacy at Lycoming is more than just bringing a brand new event or winning Student Leader of the Year. It's about what you can instill in others to make them want to be leaders themselves, and that all starts with being yourself - being an authentic leader.
I hope that my loud laugh and crazy analogies not only bring a smile to my fellow students here at Lycoming, but helps them understand that they don't have to change who they are, their personality, or their habits in order to be a good leader. You can do anything, exactly as you are.