Team Building: Leadership First

  As we embark on a new year, I have had much time to reflect on the past, and to conjure up in my mind what I want to accomplish for the future. While I have the standard resolutions of doing better in school and overall being a better person, I have also decided that I want to enhance my leadership skills through building a stronger team, specifically with the Mature Students’ Association. I have been leading the Mature Students’ Association for nine months now, and for the most part have focussed on providing high-quality events for our membership. But, there is more that I can be doing, specifically for my leadership team. I took a Student Life seminar last semester, in which we learned about those who have skill, and those who have the will. It is a tricky scenario trying to get those with the skill to show the will, and those with the will to show the skill. Ideally, you hope that most of the team exhibits both attributes. There are 15 of us that make up the MatSA executive, but sometimes it feels that we’re not all in it together. The first task was accomplished over the winter break, was bringing the team together and strengthening the bonds between us. We all came together for a pot luck dinner at my apartment last week. Ten members of the team came, and, with all honesty, we had a great time getting to know each other in a setting that did not involve planning an event or managing the budget. There were a lot of different dishes, some bought, some homemade. Potluck I made chicken souvlaki skewers on the barbecue, and others brought pizza, fried rice, rice and beans, fruit, and desserts. There was plenty of food to go around.  It was a BYOB party, so there was wine and beer in abundance. Together, we got to know each other a little bit better; some conversation was about school, some about work; some about what we did over the holidays, and other meaningful conversations that helped up explore who each other is. The night, in my opinion, was a great success; however, I probably should have done this earlier than with three months remaining in the executive team’s term. Summer would have probably been best time to host such an event so that we got off on the right foot. I realise that other teams, specifically college student associations and the like, tend to go on a board retreat prior to the start of classes to build friendships. The team gets together and are able to build bonds that last the entire session. The Office of Student Life is a great resource for those wanting to build and run a successful team, and I highly recommend contacting them for help in a variety of situations. If you lead a group, what has helped you build a successful team? Best, Jon  

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