Lessons Learned in the MBS Leadership and Communications Course

By: Jennifer (Lenahan) Cleary

The Leadership and Communication course taught by Kathleen Cashman, a required class for all MBS students, is often a transformative experience for students. The class teaches MBS students to network effectively, communicate their strengths effectively, and develop the qualities needed to lead others in the workplace. Many say it pushes them out of their communication “comfort zone”, but as a result, they are able to develop skills they never knew they possessed.

Below are some key thoughts and lessons learned from students in the Leadership and Communication class:

  • When I was first introduced to the class Communication and Leadership, I initially thought the class was going to profile the past and modern leaders and their effects on society. Honestly, I didn’t know that I was going to undergo a metamorphosis.
  • Some assignments like presentations were enjoyable, others such as networking for ‘leadership interviews’ were a bit hard seeing my limited networking skills. The first thing I realized from class was that ‘leaders themselves are learners’.
  • I was decent at public speaking and presentations before the class. I learned to further refine my skills such as pace, engaging the audience, making slides and my tone of voice personal. ‘When the Scientist Presents’ and the feedback from the earlier presentations, allowed me to become a better presenter and to use the skills in other classes and settings.
  • From our ‘character traits’ assignment, I realized that everyone has a different perception of leadership and its value. I found out that as a leader, you need to start with you own values and strengths as a foundation.
  • Most importantly, I learned that leaders couldn’t be successful on their own. From the all the books and our team presentations, I learned a good leader is an individual, but a great leader surrounds themselves with a team.
  • I learned how to communicate, by presenting my ideas to the group, as well as listening to others and their feedback.
  • I haven’t changed my traits or behaviors, but learned to refine them to my advantage into becoming a great leader.
  • As a future leader, I have learned not only how to personally become a leader, but changed my views on leadership and broke down the ‘wall of isolation’ that initially plagued my views.
  • With all the tools presented to me internally (within class) and externally (leadership interviews/news), I feel that my future is heading in the right direction. My metamorphosis is reflected with my openness to networking, risk, and improved communication/presentation skills. I feel that as a MBS student, we are all future leaders but have to unlock the potential. After this class, my leadership potential has been unlocked.
  • Apart from all the skills that can ever define a successful individual, the challenging part is becoming an individual who creates followers.
  • Leaders are also the ones who help others lead. They want others to succeed and create a difference in the lives of other people.
  • To instill thought leadership, a leader will have to make sure that they have an edge over their competitors, preparing a list of questions for which the customers are seeking the answers, prioritizing the questions, and answering them in an engaging way.
  • Another significant teaching from this course was learning the difference between a manager and a leader. Leaders create followers, whereas managers have subordinates. The former teaches how to grow and the latter teaches how to sustain.
  • Leadership is involved in every sphere and has more or less the following basic ingredients – ambition, integrity, risk, courage, trust and failure.
  • Leaders consciously inspire others in an extraordinarily powerful manner.
  • Leaders make hard choices, but with calculated risks and for sweeter rewards.
  • Leaders should network, listen and communicate with their followers and also learn to give up control to gain control.

I know that being a true leader is an inner quest, discovering who I am; what I care about and through the process of self-contemplation, will have to establish all that is required to lead. Leaders do not stop. They continue to grow, because as E. T. Trigg quotes, “The man, who has accomplished all that he thinks worthwhile, has begun to die."