If you’ve been following the Age of Exploration blog lately, then I’m sure you’re well aware that we’ve embarked upon a new project in the last week or so. The main goal of this project is to produce a documentary as a class about a topic (somewhat) of our choice, as well as to learn in depth the history of said topic. Such material goals are fairly easily attainable, though; the hardest part of this project, I believe, will be to work in unison as a fully functioning team. You may wonder, why is this so challenging? After all, we’ve been raised in a society in which unless you’re a hermit, you’re interacting with other people for a great majority of the day. You would think that perhaps after all this time spent with others, humans as a whole would have developed to a point of mutual understanding – sadly, this is not the case.
Communication has developed to some extent, yes, but it is still far from desirable. While basic ideas can be transferred from one person to another, it is often hard to organize them, properly word them, and to get them across in general. As the elected leader of this project my goal is not to command others, nor to take control in a wild show of power. My primary goals are simply to listen, organize, and encourage; essentially, my main goal for this project is to improve communication within the class. Without communication, no matter how hard working and skilled a group is, nothing can be accomplished, especially in a group of this size.
“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.” — Gilbert Amelio
President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.
This is where I come in – being a leader, to me, isn’t about getting my ideas across and having the power to back them up with my authority so that all must obey. Being a leader is instead about being a neutral party who has the success of the project in mind, and who will work hard to insure that not only are all goals met, but that also every individual on the team contributes (and is allowed by others to contribute) to the best of his or her ability. This means carefully observing the class, noting others’ strengths as well as weaknesses, and manipulating the tasks assigned so that they are achievable for each member.
Within our class we have a whole range of ability; some people are extremely research oriented, others are wildly creative and passionate about film, and some can write like no other. Then of course there are natural leaders, who even though they were not elected to be leaders, play vital roles and are just as respected by the group as I am. To allow leadership roles as well as play to the strengths of various individuals, I created four different groups within the class as a whole. The groups consist of one dedicated to researching, another to storyboarding and script writing, another to editing, and another to filming both the making of film as well as the documentary. Within each group I asked them to elect a leader to keep them organized and on point, as well as to make it easier for me to stay informed as to how each group is doing.
So far, the project is off to a good start. As usual, there have been some bumps along the road – but you’ll have to wait to see the making of video to get the details!