Leadership seminar trains students for life

Sampelayo explains leadership on the board. Photo by Amy Leong

Free cookies, lessons and information. Why else do people go to college?

All this and more was offered at the Leadership Seminar in C103 last week on Feb. 21.

Jose “Skip” Sampelayo, advisor of the Rotaract Club, led the seminar as part of the Leadership Institute.

The Leadership Institute sponsors two retreats a year, both of them free of charge. In midwinter, it goes for a day in the cafeteria featuring a guest speaker. Spring quarter includes a four-day retreat at Camp Casey. Both are “open to everyone,” said Sampelayo.

Sampelayo also encourages the workshop students to attend the Students of Color conference, which takes place in Yakima. This event is also free, and applications are available in the Student Programs office.

The first acronym Sampelayo covered is T.E.A.M.: Together Everyone Achieves More. Students brainstormed words that come to mind with “team,” including collaboration, cooperation, “pooling resources,” sports, success, winning, leaders, goals, responsibility, and accountability.

He referenced Boeing, where he used to work, saying that, “The acronym we used there was R.A.A., for Respect, Accountability, and Authority. Teams generally fail when they don’t understand the importance of this.”

Next covered was the “Force Field Analysis,” which are the restraining and driving forces for teams.

Restraining factors (which were also brainstormed on) included laziness, lack of cohesiveness, poor communication (barriers), a foggy objective, rudeness/disrespect, and discrimination/stereotypes. Driving factors, or those that made a team successful, included clear, achievable goals, commitment, defined roles/responsibilities, balance, and regard for fellow members.

“You can’t make progress if there are two people that can’t get along.”

Sampelayo stressed, though, that differences in ideas are a good thing. Otherwise, what you get is “groupthink”: a phenomenon in which the entire team is forced to think the same way.

Cited as examples of groupthink are debacles in US history: the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)  in Iraq that were never there.

“These teams failed because they refused to entertain the possibility of failing. For teams to work, they need leaders that will ask their team members, ‘What is plan A, B, and Z?’”

Next came the life cycle of a team, which includes orientation, trust, setting shared goals, gaining commitment, assigning roles, planning, performing, and closing.

“Conflict comes when people want to jump from orientation to performing. It really doesn’t work that way.”

Orientation is when team members are told “why they are here,” and it’s used to identify the skills of team members.

Trust is where regard is built for team members. Planning involves project management, for which students can gain a PMI certification at BC. Emphasis is placed on “closing,” which a lot of people forget to do because they don’t feel the need to review what happened with the plan, or they don’t have the need for recognition. Another important part of closing is the importance of celebrating success and learning a lesson from what happened before, especially if the team is going to undergo a new cycle/plan in the future.

A typical seminar, Skip says, has 16 students. This one had six.

The topic of the next seminar, which takes place Tuesday, March 13, is “Getting to Yes: Negotiation and Influence.” It takes place in room C103 at 1:30-2:30 p.m. Students are encouraged to attend.