A conversation with Carly Gregerman, ’18 and Jen Walsh, Director of Student Engagement and Leadership.
In the first part of their conversation on Beloit’s leadership culture, Jen and Carly discussed the stages of leadership development in the Social Change Model of Leadership. In the second part Carly hears just why Jen thinks alum Nadir Carlson, ’16 is a great student leader to learn from.
You can find the audio of the extended interview here:
Carly: So we have been sort of talking about you know, can leaders make mistakes, yes, they need to own them . . . what’s the relationship between leadership and humility? Leadership and resiliency? And where have you seen those attributes in action among student leaders?
Jen: Here I am trying to think of like an actual example to show you. Well I will, I’ll reflect on an experience, and this is a specific student leader who is no longer here, but you probably know him . . . Nadir.
Carly: Yeah, doesn’t everybody!?!
Jen: He’s a good example because everyone knows him. I remember when he was BSC president he really wanted to start an initiative called the It’s On Us campaign, a nationwide campaign about owning sexual assault, as in it’s on us to change that culture. That’s the gist of the whole campaign. He was so, and he still is– really passionate about it and said this is a great thing, we should all back this, we should all be passionate about this particular cause.
As president he really kind of pushed it through exec board and through general assembly, but as he was talking to students here, he realized that our students weren’t as on board with it as he was. I think our students appreciated more like a grass roots approach to sexual assault and didn’t kind of want to adhere to this kind of national organization. There were lots of different reasons people weren’t totally on board with it that made him go hmm . . .
He thought it was a slam dunk, he thought it was a home run, and why wouldn’t anyone be on board with this great idea cause it’s a great national campaign and lots of schools are doing it? But from talking to peers in his role as student body president and in his role as a person, he just kind of realized that maybe this wasn’t the best avenue to go, and backed away from it. I thought that was a very — it showed that he was listening to people and wasn’t trying to push his own agenda. He kinda was at first cause he thought his idea was a good one, but he came to the understanding maybe there’s things I didn’t see in the beginning, maybe there was reasons that people wanted to take a different approach with this, they are not ones I’ve thought of but now I am. He did a good job of kind of pivoting his mindset through listening and through understanding.
One of the habits of leadership is seeking to understand, right? And he did that. I mean he could have easily said this is what we are gonna do guys, we are just all gonna do it and it’s gonna be great. He could have done that. But rather than do that, he sought to understand and get feedback from people, which made him actually change his mind.
It is actually a really cool example of humility and resilience. Was he disappointed? Yeah, totally. He was bummed out that he thought he had this great thing but instead went a different direction.
Carly: Yea, to be able to still hold onto your values as a leader, but be able to openly listen to the people around you, I think is a really big skill.
Jen: And it’s not easy,
Carly: No it’s definitely…
Jen: None of this is easy…
Carly: No, leadership is not easy but it is, it’s wonderful.
Jen: If it feels easy, you are probably doing it wrong.