Friday, January 29, 2010

Really? Extra Credit?

Hm, leadership in a movie. Well, I just watched Monsters vs. Aliens with my friends (which is why my post is late: fail), which actually has some pretty interesting examples of leadership. The one that I'll focus on here is my tied-for-favorite character: General W. R. Monger. Monger runs the top-secret monster containment unit (aka Area 51), keeping the 5 monsters therein, obviously, top secret. Throughout the course of the film, we see his attitude and leadership style change with the situation. While introducing the main character to her new life in the holding unit, he is stern and authoritative, yet compassionate (as far as he can be) for her distress. Later, Monger takes the initiative to propose a monster attack against the alien invaders. Upon approval, he switches from directing the monsters straight to delegating, instructing them to incapacitate the enemy and then getting completely out of the way. Monger shows complete trust in his wards' abilities to succeed, and demonstrates his dependability as well.

Wow, I'm making him sound all nice and inspiring or something. Yeah, I mostly love him for his stereotypical ROTC image. But it's interesting to note that he appears to be either on one extreme or the other of the leadership spectrum, yet he is an effective and capable leader.

K, sorry that was so long. Have a fantastic weekend, and maybe watch that movie if you haven't yet. It's fairly entertaining.


Hersey and Blanchard in Sunday School!

(Sorry it's late)
All right, so, first off: I am reading The Servant: A Simple Story About Leadership by James C. Hunter.

Next: four "real life" applications of the levels or styles or whatever of leadership. Conveniently, I happen to be teaching this Sunday, so I can look forward to using these applications right away!
  1. Directing I will likely use this at the beginning of class as I introduce the lesson, ask members to read passages, and the like. I see this as just getting the basic framework of the lesson in, giving my students (or "followers") some concrete material or common ground to grab onto. (Yes, bad grammar. Yes, I'm an English minor.) Naturally, this is where the bulk of my tangible preparation will come in--I need to be well-versed in the material in order to feed it to the class.
  2. Coaching To me, this feels like the biggest part of teaching. I will be following my lesson plan and I have a few points that I want especially to get across; therefore I will form my questions so as to encourage the discussion in that direction and will probably provide answers if what I'm looking for doesn't quite come from the class members.
  3. Supporting Of course, with the Spirit being the real teacher, and with class members being actual people with their own ideas and concerns, the discussion may well turn in a different direction. In this event, my job will be to continue to facilitate the discussion--asking for people's comments and tying everything together for the whole class.
  4. Delegating Honestly, I'm having a hard time making this fit into the teaching scenario. I suppose that I may employ it when I ask the class to break into groups and work out a passage before bringing everyone back for group discussion. While I may give them some focus questions, I will trust them to teach each other.
So there are my four situations. Or rather, my one situation that will shift and change throughout the duration. I pray that I can be a responsive and responsible leader as I teach Heavenly Father's children.


(Really, it is late. Blogger just seems to be behind an hour and a half or so.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

sorta random thought

In his telling-off of Pahoran, Moroni says, "For were it not for the wickedness which first commenced at our head, we could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us" (Alma 60:15). This illustrated to me, somewhat conversely, the importance of having integrity and being righteous when in a position of influence. It's somewhat sobering to realize how far-reaching the consequences of my decisions can be--I can be a source of strength and inspiration or the cause of great suffering.

That prospect motivates me even more to choose the right. Who wants to cause other people that much pain? In fact, I can see that idea keeping me on the right path when I might otherwise slip off. I wonder if that's one reason that Heavenly Father gives us leadership opportunities. See the Quaker proverb again.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I chose to interrogate my best friend, Madeleine, who is a great leader as well as a great story teller. She inspired me to interview her about leadership when she told me that she had checked out a room in the HBLL and planned to give a lecture on "Good Visual Communication" to the Animation Club.

The really inspiring thing was that she took that initiative in spite of her anxiety about appearing presumptuous ("What right do I have to lecture? I'm no expert!"). So I asked, if she was so doubtful, what got her to set this thing up in the first place? She replied that, amateur as she was, she felt like she had something to contribute to the group in this area. Her love for telling stories and communicating visually had led her to some really great discoveries, and she wanted to share those ideas with the club so that we could all grow.

So, the main leadership qualities that I see in Madeleine are:
  • She is well-versed in her area of expertise. She has taken the time to really study and learn about her subject, and now she is ready to begin teaching others.
  • She is enthusiastic about development. Her current understanding of the principles motivates her to change and growth, the foundation for the next step up.
  • She loves the people she leads and serves. Her care for us as her friends and her desire for all of us to reach our potential as artists are the real driving forces behind this endeavor.
I admire Madeleine greatly for these qualities, and I see in her a fantastic example for me as a Sunday school teacher. Teachers need to be knowledgeable enough about their subject to teach, be humble enough to continue learning, and most especially love their students and the Lord. I hope to emulate these qualities as I prepare to teach His children every month.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Not actually my post for the week (go farther down!)...

...just something cool that my dad wrote to me in a letter. Thought I'd share.

"Elder Gonzalez spoke in Priesthood Session of October General Conference and mentioned how Lemuel made the mistake of following Laman's lead because he 'knew not the dealings of that God who had created them' (1 Nephi 2:12). In other words, he didn't understand the doctrine...I was prompted to consider not only Laman and Lemuel/Nephi and Sam as the wicked/righteous brothers, but Laman and Nephi/Lemuel and Sam as the leaders/followers...[Teaching] correct doctrine and helping [to] apply it in their lives can turn Lemuels into Sams and maybe even Sams into Nephis."

Thanks, Dad.

If only Sir Churchill had taught Old Testament

Week 2, and it's that time, folks! Not as much of a drum-roll as reverent pencil-clatter, it's my leadership role as a Sunday School teacher!!! Woooo!

It may be noted that I only teach once a month. However, my calling is foremost on my mind far more often than one might think. And I may get called in to sub some time. Who knows? At any rate, I wanted this to be the focus of my leadership learning experience because I used principles that I learned at FOL to help myself get into this calling at the beginning of last semester (I think I mentioned that in my last post. Oh well.). Also, teaching is right now my favorite form of leadership.

OK, so at the International Time Warp Commission I became Sir Winston Churchill of Great Britain. His accomplishments and leadership were rather incredible, and his speeches very memorable. Actually, it was (partially) through his speeches that Churchill brought Britain through World War II as he inspired the people to fight for their liberty, to protect their children and their homeland. Reminds me a bit of Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty. Though not in a position of political or military power at all, I would like to be able to inspire my Gospel Doctrine class to endure to the end of this life, to fight valiantly for the truth.

It's important to remember that Churchill was sometimes criticized for his speeches, accused of producing sparkling rhetoric at the expense of total accuracy of facts. I don't want to skew or warp the doctrine that I'm teaching (I hope that's not a huge concern, but I may tend that way an English geek...). The best remedy/preventative measure that I can think of is to remain humble and remember that the Holy Ghost is the real teacher; I'm merely there to open the door for him.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 1: What? We did...

So here I am, back to actively and intentionally thinking about leadership. Actually, I used principles and ideas from FOL almost constantly at the beginning of last semester as I tried to adjust to teaching Sunday School. However, I got a little lazy as my weeks to teach kept getting overridden by General and Stake Conferences, Thanksgiving, etc, so it's good and refreshing to be focusing on leadership again.
What struck me most as we began class on Monday and Wednesday was how essential it is to be ready to lead. Everyone, not just a select few, has a role to fill some time--just like the climbers in Erik's team. Our own Section 9 is a team, working towards the goal of becoming more like Christ through leadership. As we each step up and support each other, I know that we will reach that goal and that we will be ready to be Christlike leaders for others in our lives who need us.

I lift thee and thee lift me, and both ascend together.
-Quaker proverb