De-Kia L. Battle National Black Student Leadership Conference-WILLEAD Education Foundation January 5th, 2012- January 8th, 2012 What is leadership? Before Thursday, January 5th, 2012, I could have said simply that leadership is governing others (followers) in some form whether within an organization or in day to day life. I have seen it, could describe it, from my own personal experiences; however, as I had the pleasure of attending the WillLead Foundation, National Black Student Leadership Conference, my opinion was altered. Honestly, coming into the conference, I had no idea of what to expect. Did I have apprehension at first? Yes, but I had confidence that this conference would be worth coming back earlier by a few days from winter break. In this blog, I know that to hit every point that happened in the past few days would take many pages. Instead of doing that, I decided to touch on a few points that may be of interest to some people whom also considers themselves to be leaders whether within the Poole College of Management or even in their own personal daily life. On Thursday evening, I arrived in Raleigh and went to the Marriot Hotel where the conference was being held. I met a few familiar faces from North Carolina State University and many new faces from other colleges and universities along the east coast of the United States. We were introduced to Ms. Bev Smith. I had never heard of Ms. Bev Smith before this event. To keep it short of whom she exactly is, I will say that she was a powerful investigative reporter at the start of her career, is a popular radio correspondent, had a show entitled “Our Voices” on Black Entertainment Television, and has received over 300 numerous awards. This woman really inspired me. She is someone who triumphed over adversity, a true leader. When she was shot at over eight times, she kept on going. When there was a bomb threat placed over the area where she was holding convocation, she kept on going. Another thing significant about this bomb threat is that instead of people fleeing the area, they stood up right beside her. That is the remarkable thing about people who speak up for what they believe and overcoming others who do not want the truth to be known. There are times in our lives when it is clear what a leader is, what type of person they are, because of the people who choose to follow them. Continuing on with the conference the next day, there were many workshop choices to choose. The first one I chose was entitled ‘Where Are You?’ by Darryl Lester. This session was a reminder of how much volunteering I have done in the past. Philanthropy is important along with stewardship. “Success is not what you leave to, but what you leave behind-John Maxwell”. “Given a certain amount of treasure and time what would I do with it?” Sometimes people only volunteer, because it “makes them look good”. Sometimes people do it out of the goodness of their hearts. We should give back, because we are now the future. Where we are and how we got there was not on our own. We must take the initiative to meet others goals and to help them get to where we are. Otherwise, all that others did for us would be a waste. Mr. Lester mentioned how tithing is not only in the church. Tithing happens regardless, because we should always be giving back to someone. People will most likely not remember how much you owned, but what you did in society. While I am not a president of an organization, I still found it beneficial to attend the “Retaining & Motivating Organization Members-The 5 I’s of Retention”. The first “I “ was to keep members interested. Doing the same thing over and over again could be simple, because it has already been done before; however, members may become disinterested overtime with a lot of repetition. The second “I” was inclusiveness. There are many organizations on NCSU and within some of these organizations are cliques. This workshop really hit on point for me here. I could think of an organization that I belonged to where the members failed to really bond with us as new freshman. It automatically set us off from them and in the future would lead to discord. The third “I” was informed. It is absolutely critical that a group connects with each other and to make certain that everyone know exactly what is going on. The fourth “I “ was invested. Whenever you are joining an organization, you want to make sure it is worth sticking around for. If half the e-board seats are available, it may not seem like the best place you would want to be unless you were willing to take one of those spots and build it up to what it is supposed to be. The last “I” was invaluable. Back to the same example of an organization I happened to belong to, they did not treat the new members as being very valuable. This workshop reinforced how I should be as a leader and how the experience I went through really shaped me to become a better person within my organizations. I was pleased to attend a workshop by our very own Dr. Tracey E. Ray entitled “Confronting Racism”. I am always interested in how to combat it and I know that racism is not dead. Dr. Ray emphasized how to confront it, we must analyze the ways of people and why they say or do the things they do. Personally, I always found the study of people to be fascinating. Dr. Ray showed us current evidence of racism, including an HP camera that would not follow a dark-skinned black male, but would follow his white co-worker’s every move. Now this example was not out right racist, but the problem is the camera obviously was not tested with people of different complexions when manufactured. Dr. Ray emphasized how to really and truly combat racism, we must have more diversity within any environment, whether the workplace or education. To conclude with my overall experience, I will speak briefly about the most enjoyable session at the conference. It was “True Colors: Do You Really Know You?” It was presented by a man who was not black as many people might assume that since the conference was entitled “National Black Student Leadership” all the presenters must be black. This workshop was based on four colors: gold, green, blue, and orange. Through this workshop, I found that I knew exactly who I was and with this more instilled confidence, I would be able to lead more efficiently. This workshop helped me refine my strengths and weaknesses, because my personality is something that cannot be helped. Yes, I could change, but who would want to change into something that is not a true reflection of oneself. I enjoyed this experience very much. There were many times that I was a leader and had no idea that I was leading. There were times that I was a follower. What I learned from this conference is that it is okay. I take away knowledge to go forth and put a toe in the water. Albert Einstein once said “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” A leader should be good, because it is ordained for them to pursue greatness for the simple fact that they have all the potential needed to do so.
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