#NoTitleNeeded Through History

This blog post by Joe Wheeless, Coordinator: Fraternity/Sorority Life, is written from the perspective of Benjamin Stoddard Ewell, 16th President of the College of William and Mary and is not meant as an actual letter.  Benjamin Ewell dedicated his life to the survival of William and Mary during the 19th Century. As you reflect on these words, ask yourself how this relates to the concept where one does not need a title to practice leadership.

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Benjamin Stoddard Ewell

Dear Mr. Grigsby,

As our long tenure of friendship continues, I must write you of personal reflections in this time where our beloved College is without students.  Each morn I embark on a short venture with Gardiner to the Main Building and President’s house.  The matter of my venture is to see the condition of the buildings, greet passersby, and engage in correspondence.

As the Royal Charter states, the College Bell is rung abundantly to remind the citizens of Williamsburg their beloved students will return.  Overheard from citizens about Duke of Gloucester this has given me the reputation as a ‘bell-ringer,’ as the same of the celebrated ‘Swiss bell-ringers.’ I occasionally enjoy a laugh at this comparison but do not engage in contradiction of this metaphor.

My true intent with these daily visits to the College is tied to keeping the spirit of this majestic spot on this earth and in our hearts alive. I would take on the accounts even in denial of my position bestowed upon me but in support of my eternal love for the College. Alas, many responding letters are filled with wishes of hope and luck in my success for the College to return.  For as long as I walk this earth, my love for William and Mary will not falter.  And it is forever my dream to see her return to the prominence of which she deserves.

Benj. S. Ewell

Heuvel, Sean M., and Heuvel, Lisa L., College of William and Mary in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC, USA: McFarland & Company, 2013. ProQuest ebary. Web. 31 October 2014.

Redefining Leadership

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Spencer Pelfrey, GA for Leadership Programs

When you think of leadership, what comes to your mind first? Is it certain traits that you think a leader must possess? Is it a specific leader that is influential in your life or influential to those around them? Maybe it’s a pioneer, a visionary, or a revolutionary.

Leadership means different things to different people. For some, it’s simply a title. For others, it’s a collection of experiences where tasks were accomplished or problems properly navigated. It could be those who may not have formal leadership titles at all. These are individuals who have proven to be agents of change through their creative solutions, adaptation to change and the ability to seize opportunities.

Nearly every job or application we fill out has that ridiculously vague question about leadership. “Please explain a time where you exemplified leadership.” What does that even mean? I sit there trying to decide if I should write about how I changed a friend’s experience with supportive words or how I was able to change an event to better suit its mission or maybe the time I became a pioneer and ate a hot dog in a Twinkie covered in Cheez-whiz. I don’t have a specific suggestion as to how to answer this type of question other than recognizing a time where you felt as though you made yourself proud in both the way you acted and how it positively affected your environment.

It seems as though when we are put in those situations, we attempt to change our own definition of leadership to fit the definition of the institution, company, or whatever the popular opinion is. We are compromising our own leadership and going against the very thing that we’re attempting to prove.

The beauty of leadership is there is no specific definition. Therefore it can’t be redefined, just recognized and attained.

– Spencer Pelfrey,Graduate Assistant

p.s. Here are some wonderful TED Talks about differing views of leadership:

Drew Dudley’s “Everyday Leadership” (5 mins). Drew tells a story of how the little things can mean the most to people and how we can be exhibiting leadership without even knowing it. https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership

Simon Sinek’s  “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe” (10 mins). Simon explains his theory that good leaders cultivate a comfortable environment and, in turn, workers are more satisfied and productive. https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe

 

About Spencer: Spencer is a current William and Mary student in the School of Education and pursuing his M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration through the Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership program.  He is a graduate of James Madison University, where he had experience working in Admissions, Alumni Relations, and Community Service Learning, and Orientation.

Engage| Elevate| Explore

SLD_3Es_graphicI’m going to try to stop saying “leader”and “leadership.”

Our office gets to share the message of student leadership development pretty regularly – which is a great way to spend your work days.  Except it’s also easy to determine that everyone has a preconceived notion about what “leadership” is or isn’t.  And sometimes the actual use of the word leader or leadership distances people and that’s the last thing we’re hoping for.

The Office of Student Leadership Development has just celebrated our 2nd anniversary here at the College.  We have a mission that tells the world who we are and how we approach our work but it really boils down to just three things.  And these three things are, for us, the critical components to supporting ALL students.

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Know what you care about.
  3. Take action to create positive change.

If you are in action on these three things, then you are doing “leadership” and you are being a “leader.”  It’s that simple.  So I’ll be dropping the L-words and instead I’ll be talking about how we can all engage, elevate, and explore (ourselves, the things we care about, and the communities we are a part of and/or where we want to see positive change).

We hope this new blog from SLD will give you a place to reflect on where you are engaging, elevating, and exploring for yourself both across campus and in the communities you care about most.

– Anne Arseneau