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Leadership is in the Air

by Matt Miller, Assistant Director

The Spring 2012 Semester is upon us.  I always feel some excitement as we start the new calendar year, warm weather is approaching (although maybe not quick enough), some of the biggest events of the year happen in spring semester and student leaders start looking to next year and what leadership roles they might take on.

You haven’t been thinking about that last one? Oh.  Well now is the time! Within student organizations, I often see students at this time of year contemplating the next step is with their involvement.  There are those who are ready to take on the world and they’ve been ready for a leadership position since the middle of September.  There are those who have been in a leadership position but aren’t sure if they are ready to move up or if they even enjoyed the position.  Then there are those people who feel their experience doesn’t compare to those currently in leadership roles, so they could never be the President, Vice-President or any other position.

If you in the first category, the one where you are ready to take on the world, I say, “Go for it!” but at the same time take a step back and truly appreciate the time commitment and expectations of the position you are going for.  At one point in my own college career I had this attitude and I jumped in to a lot of leadership positions all at once, I didn’t really think about how multiple roles would affect my other involvements, my class work or my free time.  Sometimes it is better to go for a quality experience and focus on one or two leadership roles and do them really well.

Already in a leadership position but not sure what to do next? Make sure to weigh your options, evaluate the possible experiences available to you and what benefits you will gain with a new challenge. Remember as well that leadership doesn’t require a title.  Yes, I’ll say it again, leadership does not require a title.  Maybe the best thing that you can offer your organization and yourself this coming year is being a leader within the membership of your group.  I’ve seen many student leaders who hold a leadership position one year and then take a “step back” the following year. At first it might be strange to be “on the other side” again, but from that vantage point they often are able to influence and mentor other members of the organization in ways they weren’t able to before.

For those of you in the last group I mentioned, remember that everyone in those leadership positions today was once in your shoes.  Leadership within an organization, whether in a formal position or not, is a learning process.  You have to take some chances, ask questions, step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.  Be open about your fears with your advisors and fellow student leaders, because they have probably been there before or might be thinking the same thing, and together you might just be able to come up with ways to address your fears and challenges.

No matter what route you decide to take, remember that leadership is an experience, a process, a skill, and much more.  Although many argue leadership is just a quality some people are born with, I would partly agree and say that leadership is a quality we are all born with, it is your choice what to do with it. So this Spring Semester, make the most of it and start thinking about how you will develop your leadership potential!

What are your thoughts or share your experiences! Going to go for a leadership position or looking for a different route?


Communicate like a pro!

by Kelly Burne, Graduate Assistant

Student leaders are often presented with the unique opportunity of exploring the professional world while still gaining knowledge and skills through the traditional student experience. In choosing to seek a leadership position, you’ve already proven that you’ve got what it takes to make a positive impact on your community. Here are some handy professional communication hints to help you make the best possible impression.

1) Thnk Me L8er

Text message lingo and emoticons are quick and cute ways to get your thoughts across to family and friends, but leave the smiley faces and text abbreviations to your BFF and your G-ma. They have absolutely no place in professional communication. If you want to be taken seriously by the professional community, present yourself as a serious and capable in any form of written communication.

2) Consider the Voice of your Department or Organization

Be careful when using the BSU name or the names of specific university departments or organizations in the content of written communication or even your email signature. By including these names, you’re suggesting that the content of your communication reflects the position of the respective organization or department.

3) Play it Safe

If you’re questioning whether your language is crossing the lines of professionalism, it probably is. Consider other ways to get your thoughts across in a more professional manner. If you’re not sure how to make this happen, solicit the advice of a professional mentor.  There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. You’ll gain a great learning experience and you’ll know what to do when similar situations arise in the future.

4) Learn from Mistakes

Chances are you’ll end up putting your foot in your mouth at some point. We’ve all been there. So whether you address the president of the university as “dude” or send a smiley face to your new boss, just remember that you’re only human. You’re bound to make mistakes. The signs of a true leader and professional are owning up to those faux pas, learning from them, and keeping the big picture in mind. Ultimately, what matters most is not the LOL you included in your email, but the contributions you make to your community as a whole.

Set SMART goals in 2012!

by Joanne Darrigo. Graduate Assistant

Looking for a SMART way to set goals? Need an effective way to set and follow through with both small and large goals! When setting goals you must imagine the future. Understand where you are right now and where you would like to be. By following the SMART model you can begin to put your dreams into action.!

 “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

SPECIFIC: Be concise with exactly what you are looking to achieve. The more specific your goal the easier it is to attain. You must answer the six “W” questions:

  • Who:      Who is involved?
  • What:     What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where:    Identify a location.
  • When:     Establish a time frame.
  • Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

MEASURABLE: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that encourages you on to reach your goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

AGREED UPON: There must be agreement with all the stakeholders on what the goals should be. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.

REALISTIC: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

TIME ACTIVATED: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:

  • When?
  • What can I do 6 months from now?
  • What can I do 6 weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

It is important to remember that life happens, and when achieving your goal does not go as planned it is not your failures, but how you decide to react to them.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Theresa

Leadership Summit Reflections

by Brooke Parsons, SGA President

On September 30, 2011, the Campus Center had a great flurry of activity. At 4:15, a bus pulled up in front of the Rondelieu Campus Center full of Stonehill College student leaders looking to gain new knowledge and joining fellow students here at BSU. I was sitting outside of the large ballroom, checking students in until the event started. This event happens once a year, and I have been involved with it for three. As a student leader, most would think that the leadership summit only offers programs for those who are looking to get into the field. This is definitely a common misconception. The summit offers a wealth of knowledge to all that attend. Not only do you learn how to become a leader, but you also learn how to hone your leadership skills, gain new knowledge to pass onto others, and learn how to organize your everyday life.

The leadership summit offers different breakout sessions every year. All of these sessions vary by subject. The two breakout sessions that I had attended at last week’s summit were a Roundtable about Careers in Student Affairs, and Expand your Leadership through Technology. The two breakout sessions that I attended we completely different from each other and also very different from the rest of the sessions that were also held. Some of the other sessions that were held included Team Building and Delegation: How and When to Empower People, Professionalism, Shared Visions: Collaborative Leadership at Work, and Building Buzz. These are not even half of what was held at the summit, and all provided different resources to everyone.

At about halfway through the summit, dinner was served and a keynote speaker was presented. This leader was a Bridgewater State alum and had a resonating lecture. Dr. Maura Cullen spoke about Diversity in Education and Social Justice. She talked about how everyone should be treated as an equal and what we can do to get the world thinking that way. Dr. Cullen’s speech was not only empowering but also provided that “ah-ha” moment to many in the room.  Dr. Cullen held your attention throughout the entire lecture, and kept all material fun, and was able to relate it all to each and every person in the room. This was especially noteworthy because the material was such a strong and powerful subject.

As the night neared end, the students of Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University came together one last time in the large ballroom. The closing session also resonated through the room as Kelly Burne and Joanna Darrigo, the two graduate assistants of OSIL, took the stage and presented Be the Change.  These two women stood at the entrances of the Ballroom and gave everyone a strip of paper. On this piece of paper, we were asked to write a random act of kindness that happened to them on that day. Throughout their presentation, these random acts were read aloud and related to the material being covered.

Moral: The leadership summit is a way to connect to other people just like you. It mentors you to achieve your highest standards, and find peace in helping others achieve their goals.

Passing the Torch: Officer Transition

by  Max Quinn, Program Advisor

Taking on a brand new leadership position can pose a lot of challenges to the average student leader. But, imagine being that student leader, having to relinquish your “power” to your successor… now, that is some scary stuff!

As leaders, we all work extremely hard to ensure that we are pursuing the best of our potential, making sure that our positions and our organization is always making progress towards our mission and goals.

So, in a world where multi-tasking and Facebook have become habit, how can you guarantee that your successor will pick up where you left off? How can you be sure that all your hard work and determination to succeed will be carried forward?

The answer is simple; Follow my tips on New Officer Transitions and be surprised at how easy it is to transition your new successor(s) to be better than you!

First, it is important that you set up an officer transition meeting as soon as new officers are elected. At this meeting, each officer should be present, new and old, and all materials that each position needs should accompany the officer who is transitioning out.

A sample agenda for this meeting could look similar to this:

Session 1: Overview and Purpose – ALL Officers

  1. Review the purpose of the organization
  2. General discussion of officer roles and team approach to leadership
  3. Group’s relations to other groups, the University, the community, and others

Session 2: Individual Officer Exchange – ALL Officers

  1. Outgoing and Incoming officers meet to discuss specifics of their office
  2. Particular duties and responsibilities are discussed
  3. Materials are turned over to the new officer and reviewed together
  4. Goals of the previous year for that office are discussed along with new goals for the new term
  5. Nuances of the office are disused (the “real deal”…what is the position truly like)
  6. National and Universities policies are reviewed
  7. Budgetary issues are discussed
  8. Leadership skills and competencies are introduced as necessary/appropriate

Session 3: New Officer Planning Session – New Officers Only

  1. General Goal-Setting session is conducted to identify organizational goals for the coming year
    1. a. Answer the following questions: Where are we? Where are we going? How do we get there?
  2. Individual officers are given the opportunity to develop and share their individual goals and explain how they relate to the group’s goals
  3. Team-Building activities occur – Ice Breakers!!!!
  4. Goals are put into writing with specific dates and acceptable achievement levels
  5. Discussion occurs about lateral accountability and team decision-making

Session 4: Goal Review & Wrap up – ALL Officers

  1. New Officers present their proposed goals to outgoing officers for feedback
  2. Goals are refined and modified at the choice of the new officers
  3. Remaining information is shared

Session 5: Organizational Update – Entire Organization – Separate meeting if needed

  1. New Officers present ideas to group for feedback and review – Establish Buy-In
  2. Group Modifies goals and then accepts these for coming year – Group “buys-in” to goals and is “on-board”

Session 6: Continuous Development – New Officers

  1. Officers meet weekly to discuss and plan goal implementation
  2. At least twice a semester officers meet to review and update goals

As one can see, it takes a lot of work to ensure a smooth transition, but if done well, this can be a very rewarding process. As an outgoing officer, you will get to see the impact you and your office had on your organization while assisting the new officers and providing them with all the information and tools needed to be the best officers they can be!

A few other tips:

  • Meet with your Advisor regularly – Invite them to this transition meeting and have them present on topics that will benefit the organization as a whole.
  • Have each outgoing officer write a letter to the new officer summarizing their position. Make sure they talk about things they did well, things they struggled with, and how they went about solving those issues. Also, what are things the officer wished they could have done if they had enough time/resources.
  • Make each officer keeps a binder for their position and that they constantly update it.

Check out my Officer Transition Prezi for more tips!         

Best of luck!

It’s time to say THANKS!

by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership

Spring semester at BSU is busy, frantic, exciting, stressful and awesome all at the same time.  One of my favorite parts of the Spring semester is all of the recognition events.  We get the chance to celebrate the accomplishments of so many students, organizations and advisors toward building a vibrant and exciting co-curricular life on campus.

The Impact Awards will be held on Thursday, April 28th.  I love this event each year!! It is so easy to be proud of our University and the people who are in it when hearing of their great accomplishments.  The sad thing happens when people get missed. Some times great things go unrecognized just because everyone assumes the awards are destined for specific people or groups or because they assume that someone else is writing the nominations that they hope will be on the list for consideration. If you think the busiest people on campus can write all the nominations, let’s think again…

If you’re one of these “busiest people on campus” I’m referring to, please know that I agree that the burden placed on you for this isn’t fair at all.  However, it’s very real.  Why not take 10 minutes now, make a list of who you think may deserve some recognition from your organizations AND from others, and think about who else might be able to submit the nomination?  If you give a little push for someone to write it, they will stop assuming that you are going to do it and will probably be honored that you let them in on an effort to bring recognition to someone else. Everyone loves being a part of happy schemes, right?

If you’re one of those people who might just ignore this post and ignore the deadline as it comes and goes…listen up. Philip Vera Cruz is credited with the profound quote, “If not you, then who?”  I want you to think about the person who is on your mind who you know has been working tirelessly to make life better for someone else on campus this year.  If you don’t nominate them for some recognition, then who will?  You can bet that if the person is as selfless as you believe they are, they certainly aren’t going to nominate themselves.  If you strongly believe that particular individuals or groups are worthy of recognition, then let your voice he heard and NOMINATE.

Are you ready?  DO IT.  Here’s the link on the Involvement Network: Nomination Form

The Impact Awards deadline: Monday, April 4th!

Effective Leadership?

Wordle: Leadership

by Matt Miller, Assistant Director for Programming, Student Involvement and Leadership

To start off, I have to share my own personal excitement for social media week and I hope you have taken advantage of all the great programs this week!  So on to the topic of the day.  The Blogfest topic of the day is leadership, with a focus on what “effective leadership” means to me.  When I think of the phrase effective leadership, two words come to mind that I want to focus on – vision and motivation.

Vision – To me, ability to lead is great, but unless you have somewhere you are leading others, there isn’t really much point.  When someone has a vision, whether for themselves, their job or their organization, I believe they are often more productive and more effective.  I have had the pleasure of working with numerous student leaders while working here at BSU and although they all had their strengths, the ones with a clear vision and view of the future were often the best leaders.  A vision can be for any length of time, or can connect to a small project or to a whole organization.  Planning ahead and creating a vision of what you want the outcome to be is a great way to help you or your group reach that goal.

Motivation – You can break this into two main parts, personal motivation and motivation of others.  If you have a vision you are most likely going to be more effective then without one, but personal motivation is going to get you there.  I hear great ideas all the time, but many people are not self-motivated to accomplish or take on those ideas.  Often you can’t take it all on by yourself, especially when you are trying to make changes within an organization or plan an event as a group, then you have to motivate others.  Many leaders just expect others to work with them, to follow, and then complain when those they were working with walk away.  Especially when working with a group of fellow volunteers you have to keep them motivated – motivated to be there, motivated to do work, motivated to work toward your shared vision.

Although there are many other aspects to being an effective leader, I think that these two are pretty important. When setting a vision for a group, it’s always good to have your own, but make sure you create a shared one that everyone can also agree on, then help motivate each other to accomplish it.

What do you think?  What characteristics would you say are require for effective leadership?  Have you had any successes or challenges relating to setting a vision or motivating others that you would want to share?

Spotlight on Leadership: Joe Bogle

By Victoria Wallant, Marketing Coordinator

Name: Joe Bogle

Class Year: Junior

What are three interesting things about you that people might not expect?

  • I enjoy riding my bike
  • I like to cut hair
  • Panda Express is my favorite place to eat

What are you involved in on the Bridgewater State University Campus?

  • President of Men Integrated in Brotherhood (M.I.B.)
  • Friends and Mentors for Change Mentor (FAM)
  • L.I.N.K.S. Mentor

Have you been an involved student you’re entire life, or is this new to you?

I was involved in high school a little bit. I am a lot more involved now because this school has a lot more to offer and encourages student leadership.

How did you get involved at Bridgewater?

I got involved through MIB and LINKS my freshman year and it continued from there.

Do you have any advice for those students who have a hard time getting involved?

I would say to start with something you like and then branch off of that. If you are still having a hard time getting involved, maybe consider making a club or group on campus.

Check back next week for another Spotlight on Leadership!

So, BSU… what do you want?

by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership

Representatives of a few of our student organizations and their advisors are spending today at a Leadership Retreat, facilitated by Michael Miller.  Michael is a leadership educator with a company called Fun Enterprises who works with us regularly in leadership training contexts with staff and students.

Michael asked one of our phenomenal student leaders this question:

“What do you want out of your time and your life?”

He asked the question of her to aid her in her focus on her personal fulfillment and what she is looking for from her BSU career.  Reflect on this question again….
“What do you want out of your time and your life?”

This question is definitely not simple and it’s even more complicated when there’s a leadership facilitator who is “in your face” asking and and focusing your questions. Kelly did a phenomenal job with a stressful situation and did exactly what most of us would do.

K: “Well, I want to be happy.”

Michael: “Are you a happy person now? Yes? So are you done? It’s ok if you drop dead tomorrow?”

K: “I want to keep being happy.”

Michael: “How are you going to be happy?”

K: “With a fulfilling career.”

Michael: “So, does that mean you want to be a stockbroker? You can make a lot of money this way. Does that work?”

… the conversation then went briefly to her specific goals and what could advance her personal fulfillment in life here at BSU and beyond. Can you state your personal goals for your time and your life when asked point blank?

“What do you want out of your time and your life?”

If you’re still trying to clarify what you want from your time at BSU, I’d recommend a few things:
Personal mission. What is your own personal mission statement? Companies and departments have one…so why not you? Franklin Covey has a great link to a “personal mission statement builder” that can help you get started.
Your Retirement Party. I know it may be a long way off, but visualize your own retirement party.  What are you retiring from? Who is there with you at the party? What are they saying about you?
Your “Board of Advisors.” When you are searching for direction in your life, there are likely people who you trust for wisdom. Consider these trusted people as your personal “Board of Advisors” for the corporation of You.  These advisors could meet together or may never meet, but you should seek a diverse group who offers a variety of roles. Fast Company suggests these roles:
  • Connector: Someone who can lead you to other people
  • Challenger: who will help you act boldly
  • Wise Elder/Sage: Someone with wisdom and experience
Does your Board of Advisors have any vacancies? Who do you know that you could learn more from?
These three basic suggestions could start things moving forward to helping you answer this important question.
Post here and tell me, What do you want from your time and your life?

Be SMART about your 2011 goals!

by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership

I’m sure that everyone is sick and tired of the New Year’s Resolutions discussion by now, but the opening of a new semester in the world of OSIL means it’s still “New Year’s Day.” Today, classes begin again and there is a whole new chance to make time at BSU a truly legendary experience.

If you’re someone who is sitting down to think about what can be accomplished in the New Year, I hope you’ll take a minute to think about ways to set your goals to make sure that they can actually be accomplished. This process drives me a bit nutty on a regular basis as so many of us put forward goals like “get healthy” and “have better communication with my family.” For goals to truly “stick,”they need to be designed in a way that will give them staying power.  Just remember this simple SMART acronym and you will be on your way!

S – “Specific”
A goal like “do a better job training our officers” isn’t as specific as “design expanded job descriptions for each officer.” You need to be as specific and narrow as possible when defining what you are hoping to do.

M – “Measureable”
How will you measure when you have accomplished your goal? A goal of “better communication” is difficult to measure, but a goal of “have weekly meetings” can easily be measured. You either have them or you don’t.

A – “Achieveable”
A goal of “build 2 new residence halls” isn’t quite achievable for the average student organization. Be sure the goal you are setting forth is achievable..

R – “Realistic”
Is your goal a realistic one that can be met based on your authority and mission as a group? If my goal for my department was to revise our student employee application we could certainly do that.  However, if my goal was to expand our student staff by 200 new student employees that may be pushing the limits of realistic progress.

T – “Time scheduled”

American author Napoleon Hill once said, “a goal is a dream with a deadline.” These goals are merely dreams unless we put some time frame to them.  In your goal statement, be sure to put a time frame around your plans in order to give yourself some motivation and accountability.

In this coming year, I hope you’ll use this SMART test to be sure that your goals for yourself or for your organization ahve some “teeth” to them.  We want to see you succeed!

What’s on your list for 2011? Post a comment and let us know what goals are on the horizon for you this year.