Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reflections from LeaderShape: Ricky Johnson

We're excited to feature a guest author on the blog today.  Delta Upsilon's President Ricky Johnson recently attended the AFLV LeaderShape Institute. Here's what he had to say regarding the experience: 

The week after classes ended, I traveled down to Orlando, Florida with my little brother, Evan Pentz, to attend the AFLV LeaderShape Institute. This institute was an immersive, colorful, and enlightening experience that I was very happy to have participated in. My little and I met about 32 other Greek leaders from across the country (and Canada) and took part in a leadership program that topped any other that I had ever experienced. During this program, I learned a significant amount about my specific type of leadership style. It was great realizing what my strengths were, but also recognizing my weaknesses and how to improve them. Further, I learned how to effectively communicate and work with other people who possess other types of leadership styles.
                One of the biggest things LeaderShape did for me was alter my perception of the word “Leader.” The program taught me what it takes to be a leader, what it means to be a leader and how to lead in the most effective way(s) possible- and these things aren't always as cut and dry as we think they are. I learned that every person leads in a different way and that there are a variety of leadership styles. For instance, leaders aren't always the individuals who can stand up in front of a large crowd and move them to act; leaders can be the exceedingly intelligent, albeit shy individual in the back of the room who knows how to develop a life-saving device. I learned that leaders are simply the individuals who are willing to challenge the social norm; they are the people who aren't satisfied with mediocrity. Instead, they question everything and when no one seems to understand or believe them, they continue to pursue their visions. We looked at various examples (such as Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi) and discussed how each individual had his/her own method of leading effectively and how each went on to change the world.  
                Most importantly, I learned that a good leader understands how to be vulnerable. In fact, the best leaders welcome vulnerability. When we look at different leaders throughout history, we tend to see the individual standing on a pedestal, successfully accomplishing every task he set out to achieve from day one. However, what’s most important to note is that leaders fail. Things get difficult, experiments don’t work, people don’t listen to you, and competitors cheat the system. But the most effective leaders have a certain tenacity that is unrivaled among their peers, and as a result, they do in fact accomplish their goals. Another form of vulnerability is merely that leaders are willing to admit when they are wrong and they are humble in all of their actions. Leaders who value vulnerability understand that it is okay to put yourself out the world, despite what the public perception may be and regardless of what other people say and think.
                Overall, my recent week in Orlando was one of the greatest personal development periods of my life. I learned tons about my personal leadership characteristics and I learned a lot about myself as a person. I discovered that the word “Leader” isn't as narrowly defined as I formerly thought. Furthermore, I now understand that it is okay to be vulnerable, and instead of fearing vulnerability, I should welcome it. 

Ricky Johnson
President, Delta Upsilon Fraternity 

Many thanks Ricky for sharing your thoughts!! We love your passion and enthusiasm for leadership and can't wait to see the many great things that come as a result of this experience when you return to campus this fall and beyond.  If you or anyone you know would like to author a guest blog post, feel free to reach out to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.