Head cold. Repeat root canal. Major case of student plagiarism. To say that last week was rough is an understatement. So on Wednesday, when we were discussing leadership in my senior seminar on organizational communication, I wasn’t expecting much except to survive the rest of the school day.
I love being surprised!
To start, students broke up into small groups and I gave them each a poster paper, some markers and the directions to draw the ideal leader, whatever that meant to them based upon the course readings. We discussed each poster in turn, me listing the commonalities and differences on the chalk board before asking them to give advice to new leaders starting out.
The posters, pictured below, showed the varied thinking about leadership among the class members and generated a lot of good conversation. In particular, seeing the students’ application of leadership theory–based in part on the reading and in part on their own experiences at work–offered an important opportunity to critique theory and assumptions.
For instance, if you scan below, you might note that a several of the “ideal leaders” portrayed are male and many of the descriptions in class used male pronouns. Likewise, in a couple of the posters, the leader is ginormous compared to the followers (or in one case, is portrayed as the life-giving sun). I asked students to reflect on what it might signify that so many off the cuff references linked leadership to masculinity and what consequences might be associated with conceptualizing leadership with one great and powerful leader.
My students’ thoughtful responses floored me and got me to thinking about how lucky I am to have this job, even on the rough days, even when the pile of papers to grade seems insurmountable (ahem).
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