Walking in Leadership
Mr. Sophomore Hosts Seminar on Leadership
By Auburn Mann
Ever wondered what are some of the elements that a great leader is made of, what qualifies them, what they did to achieve their position? Men and women, such as, Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others who are heard of so often written about and discussed who seem to personify this role of a leader. What sets them apart?
Many of these questions and much more regarding this topic were discussed in the program "How to Walk in Leadership" hosted by Mr. Sophomore Devin Denzel Davidson, this past in the Wiseman Room 102 at 8 p.m. Dec. 2. The supplementary panelists included Senior Pastor Arthur Clark of Agape Family Life Ministries in Cheltenham, Md.; Dean C. Jones, former Maryland state police officer and head of the Motivated Speaker Program and Consultant: Listen and Learn in Baltimore, and his son Bowie State student Brandon Jones, a sophomore communications major.
After a warm welcome from Mr. Sophomore, the program started with the opening question "What does it mean to be in Leadership?" The overall consensus from the audience seemed to be of course, heading the group or organization that you are affiliated with. However, some unique deviations to this included Brandon Jones' answer that "leadership is a state marked by the unification of peoples, led by someone or individuals bringing them together for a common goal."
Dean C. Jones used a basketball analogy saying that the point guards can viewed as the leader of the team since they start out with the ball dribbling it up the court and vocally lead the plays needed to be executed by their teammates. This is just one aspect of leadership, Clark said adding that the point guard can be viewed as the leader on the court, but on the next level, the coach is the leader commanding what plays to execute to the point guards.
Davidson then asked the panel to define the "qualities of a great leader." The answers included "courageous, confident, intelligent, optimistic, and humble." Brandon Jones said a leader "does what's best for the organization that he or she is the leader of."
Clark answered this question by saying the adage "great leaders are always great followers," emphasizing the importance of humility in successful leadership, and how that can allow the leader to listen and to learn from those around them, just aiding their journey to be as familiar as possible with those they are leading, in order to properly approach and address them and their needs. Also, this following, should also be able to follow the leadership of another person to take into consideration their failures and triumphs and what contributed to both. With this humble spirit, they "constantly are looking to improve themselves."
The panelist then tackled the question of whether a "leader born or made?" The question sparked a pointed debate among panelists and audience members.
Senior Alex Lambert stated from his seat in the audience that leaders can be created, but great leaders are born. "They are driven by something internal, spiritual and an enduring self determination that guides the traits designed specifically for them before the foundation of the universe."
Many responded to this answer with comments stating both innate and nurtured factors are at play. "Even with all these productive traits, a leader like anyone else needs guidance and a prior example, for him or her, to be set to follow," Clark said, adding that Malcolm X's leadership potential wasn't realized until he came under the tutelage of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.
Even in situations where a leader might not have direct contact with his or her guidance or inspiration, they can still read and study on historical situations that mirror theirs and apply it to their predicaments, Clark said. One example of this case is Martin Luther King Jr, who was deeply inspired by Gandhi's movement nonviolent movement of civil disobedience against British imperialist rule in India. King implemented some of those strategies during the struggle civil rights in the U.S.
This comment inspired a comment by sophomore Candace Shipley of the audience to say that "a situation in the environment, usually negative, or a very imperfect one tends to incite people to try to correct it, inspiring leadership over that cause."
The next question posed was "what are some of the pros and cons of becoming a leader?" Clark said one of the pros of becoming a leader is to "actively train those under them to take their place once they retire or depart from their position, or prepare them to take leadership elsewhere."
Brandon Jones gave a con, stating that "because someone is the leader, regardless whether of a group, organization or a particular movement, they are the face of their cause, and therefore, whatever occurs negative or positive is a direct reflection of the leader."
"President Obama's approval rating has plunged from 67 percent when he first was inaugurated into office to a mere 47 percent at the end of his second year due to the fact that it's taken him and his administration longer than expected to heal a national economic crisis," Brandon Jones said. "So because the change he promised if elected isn't coming as a direct result and taking effect quick enough, it is a direct reflection of his inadequacies, at least in terms of the general public's eye."
Clark said that just because someone is a leader doesn't mean they should be placed on a pedestal and considered more than human, then when they fail or don't perform miracles everyone is disappointed. The leader is not the whole movement; he's just a part of it. Therefore, the cause should be put on the pedestal.
Because leaders are human, Clark said, they will be susceptible to temptations just as anyone else if not more because they are in a position of influence. If they do fall short, the followers should act according to Galatians 6:1:
"If someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently," Clark said. "This is one thing we as a people lack in, every time one of our leaders makes a mistake, and the media tear them apart, we join in with the media (sometimes criticize them even worse), instead of helping them get over their stump, for the sake of the cause which is bigger than the individual leaders and us."
The final question of the program was "What kind of work ethic is needed for leadership?" Brandon Jones responded "needs to be uncompromising in achieving their objective, committed to completing the steps essential to fulfilling the cause and won't settle for less than what their group has set out to achieve."
Clark followed up on this saying that the leader of anything must be the hardest worker, and followers must know and see that he or she is putting in the effort to follow their lead. He gave an example how Michael Jordan was the first one in the gym for practice and the last to leave. This set a standard of dedication for the rest of the team. "It's vital that the leader of anything study to the point where they have mastered the particular area they are in charge of."
Dean Jones stated "this kind of work ethic when in leadership should be exercised all the time, because someone is always watching you, whether in broad spot light, or seemingly "behind closed doors."
Brandon Jones then added on to his previous statement "of course much of this won't be easy; it will require much sacrifice and resilience in doing things you might not necessarily care for that helps out in the long term."
Said Dean Jones: "This adversity will test your character and show you what you're leadership is made of."