The Power of Lead

What is LEAD?

Lead is Booth’s flagship leadership development training program. It is unique to Booth and the school prides itself on it success and impact on student’s careers and ability to lead.

Why Is Lead So Important To The Booth Experience?

Booth is committed to the “Choose Your Own Journey” ethos. Because of that, we have what is called “flexible scheduling”. Which means, that we are allowed to choose our own courses starting our first quarter compared to other programs where you are forced to take the same courses as your entire class whether you want to take the courses or not. What this also means is that we do not officially have cohorts in the traditional sense of cohorts.

Although we do have “cohorts”, they are mostly to serve the purposes of lead.

This is my legendary cohort: Phoenix

As I am sure you can tell, we are an expertly crafted diverse group of first years and Lead Facilitators 2nd years (wearing Space Jam Jerseys).

While I am not one to enjoy structured leadership training, LEAD showed me how powerful it can be when done well.

It’s All About Relationship Building & Understanding Yourself

LEAD is the only required first year course, which means it has a legitimate syllabus. But, what makes it unique is that it is led by 2Y Lead Facils, who are trained for months leading up to orientation.

There are 6 modules in LEAD:

  • Group Process
  • Leadership Orientation Retreat
  • Personality & Leadership
  • Perceptions, Awareness & Insights
  • Cross-Cultural Communications
  • Audience Captivation Training (ACT)

Each module is interactive and helps to expose question and understand a piece of your thinking, personality or leadership skills through personality tests, video recording and observations, real-time feedback and practice, etc.

The expectation is that during the 3 hour block each week, you are fully engaged not only for your own growth, but for the growth of your team.

LOR: Leadership Retreat

LOR is our Leadership Retreat out to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. 2 days, at a lake resort with your new best friends where you are tested in a variety of ways.

On Our Way to LOR

Every minute of LOR was jam-packed starting with competitions on the 2 hour bus ride to Lake Geneva to our last few minutes at the resort. One of our first big events for team PhoeMa (Phoenix & Maroon 5) was a ropes course. For those that have never been on a ropes course, it is a trying experience.

Throughout the LEAD training, we are put in positions where we are forced to lean on our strengths and work on our weaknesses. The ropes course was our first time really seeing our teams unique personalities. We learned who was willing to go the extra mile at any cost (Ji), and who was willing go be quiet when necessary or when they don’t know whats going on (me). We were covered in rain and dirt by the end of our ropes course, but everyone was proud of our team and happy that we had completed each task successfully.

When we finished the ropes course, I shared with our team that the way we executed the course, the ways that we supported each other, and the personality characteristics that everyone exhibited was exactly what I hoped for my classmates to embody. Truly.

Ropes Course With PhoeMa 5

The rest of LOR was filled with additional various tasks – one of which you can watch below. It is hard to explain exactly what was going on /I have to save some things for prospective students imaginations. What I can say is that between improv classes, dinner in the dark and dance parties – a ton of camaraderie was established. Which is what I believe the whole point of the weekend was.

Back To The Important Stuff

First Module: Group Process

LEAD was powerful for me because of the relationships that I was able to build within the structure of the course. Coming in, our entire team was committed to being fully present, vulnerable and honest with each other. Our lead facil Mariana helped to facilitate a space where each person was given the guidance and feedback that they needed.

My goal during LEAD was to learn how to play various roles within a team. As a naturally aggressive leader, the first module, group process (pictured above), was my first test. This module was taped in real time, as our team interacted for the first time, broke down a case and created a solution. I had never seen myself in real-time on tape, so this was especially nerve-wracking for me. Alas, I saw how my verbal and non-verbal cues came across and was able to learn and grow from it.

Throughout the various modules our team became very personal as we shared stories about our life experiences inside and outside the workplace. I learned about how difficult it is for non-native speakers to adjust to being in fully American spaces, how difficult it is to adjust to the East-West culture differences in the home and at work, and how sometimes it takes seeing someone you love being affected by racial injustice to open your eyes to what many people experience daily.

I am thankful for Ursula, Thomas, Sophia, Ding, Ji, Joe and Mehur for making our LEAD time worth it every week and so humbled by our friendships. We had the chance to share feedback with each other on our last day of class and share why each person was impactful to our group. Needless to say, a few little tears were shed – and rightfully so.

Our Winning Building

My Advice

Every time you build a strong relationship with someone that has different life experiences than you, you are expanding your world view and impact in the work place.

Take advantage of LEAD and really get to know your team and cohort. It is a chance to focus on your own personal growth and build deep relationships during classtime. Although it is tiring going to your LEAD course once classes have started – see it is a time to enjoy, because it won’t happen again throughout your Booth journey.

Also, if you want to win fall frolics – being close with help 🙂

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