This semester I had the privilege of working as the I-Serve Special Needs Program Coordinator. I was in charge of overseeing all functions of extracurricular Special Needs activities on campus. My duties included goal-setting for the program, finding managers to lead weekly and monthly activities, organize and manage hold weekly meetings and leadership trainings for managers, work alongside managers in achieving our program goals and being a trusting and reliable leader.
One of the most important parts of this program that I took away was the importance of being an involved leader. This program is very self-directed. With that, it can be so easy to let it run on its own and simply work on the administrative duties. What I have found is that the more involved I am in the program, the manager’s goals and the needs of our friends (how we refer to participants with special needs), the more successful the program is. There are a number of ways on how to be an effective leader. This semester I recognized three. They are as follows:
The create means to brainstorm and develop ideas and goals. It is the beginning step in building something. In this case, it was important to outline the needs of the special needs program and set goals to meet those needs.
The build means to start putting together the pieces that work toward a goal. In this case, the build meant to find those persons who were able, capable, and willing to lead the four programs within special needs and to develop relationships with all of those who they would work with (friends and volunteers)
The lead means to work with others effectively to achieve goals. It is the human element part of reaching a goal. How we treat others is a great sign of either good or bad leadership. In this case of special needs, I made it a priority to develop relationships with managers, volunteers, and friends to bring value and meaning to the program. I encouraged managers to do the same.
Ultimately, this project served as a platform and mentor on what it means to be a leader. It is a selfless act that comes with intentional practice and time, with a focus on people. Stephen R. Covey said “The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.” This statement could not be more true in leadership. Focusing on the success of others and a program is far more effective than focusing on personal gain. That is what this project did for me.
Here is a video giving more detail on the project, how it was conducted, and what I learned throughout the semester.
List of Books:
How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
*The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
*Leadership and Self-Deception – The Arbinger Institute
The Anatomy of Peace – The Arbinger Institute
Getting To Yes – Roger Fisher and William Ury
*Creativity Inc. – Ed Catmull
The Greatest Salesman In The World – OG Mandino
* = Highly Recommended