Leadership Lab: Student Life and Leadership Matthew Felsted
The event that I am writing about is the Student Life and Leadership interview process that happened recently. I was introduced to the idea of applying by a friend and I polished my resume and sent it in. About two months later I got a phone call informing me about an event where we stated our interests in the different positions. There were tables and representatives at each table. The style of leadership used to organize this event was based on a formal position of authority, but free flowing, with communication based on the students’ interests. A student only had to walk up to a table and ask about the specific program to learn more. The followers were treated as partners as in the Chaleff’s follower topology.
We were instructed to come back the following day. The next day we met inside a room across from the Lair, in the Student Services building. The administrative staff set up tables where every participant was presented with the hypothetical life-or-death challenge of who to save and who to throw overboard for the only remaining lifeboat in the scenario. The administrators gave us the task of choosing individually, and then we discussed it as a team. The leadership style of the leaders of the organization was highly participative. They frequently included the teams in a joint decision making effort. The scenarios made for a great deal of fun as we debated light-heartedly, and if it had been real life, would have been painfully serious. After we choose the lifeboat crew, we had one person from each group present to everyone at once. We then consulted our scheduled interview times and then arranged them.
I went downstairs for my first interview. I made some new friends and quickly found that I appreciated the event. While waiting for each interview I collaborated with others in preparation. I chatted with several nervous but excited interviewees.
This participative leadership style required all the members to be consulted in each group to determine whether or not they would take an applicant on board. I wasn’t entirely sure what to prepare. It’s hard enough to privately interview for a single person at time, let alone a small committee of four people at a time. Their questions were prepared and carefully thought out. It was very organized, and hardly bureaucratic. Facing a panel of judges is taxing, but fun. In my case they were very respectful to my face and were also reassuring. After the meeting they would review my application, just as they would for all participants that day, come to a final conclusion, and then call sometime in the following week if the applicant was successful.
The whole purpose of the event was to select students to participate in different roles for student government. Student Life and Leadership listens to students on campus and select leaders amongst the students on campus to organize future events, oversee clubs, and carry out relevant tasks for the student body. The system is partly electoral, egalitarian, and in a sense resembling the business world in that students apply and are hired on board by a committee or group of leaders.