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Defining Leadership Goals & Becoming Tempered Radicals

Defining leadership goals & becoming a Tempered Radical (Jan 19 – March 7)
We have an assigned reading (apart from any additional online readings that we may recommend). So first things first, go ahead to your favorite online bookseller and purchase Rocking the Boat: How to effect change without making trouble by Debra E. Meyerson. Order it right away because we will need it one week’s time.
Reading: Meyerson, D. E. (2008). Rocking the boat: How to effect change without making trouble. Harvard Business Press.

This assignment can be further divided into three sections:

  1. In the Room
  2. Rocking the Boat
  3. Setting Goals
In the Room activity
  Jan 19 – Jan 26.
Before you begin this assignment, you must make us one promise: you will not read ahead! As you read each section, make sure to complete the tasks before moving on.Part 1:

  1. Open a blank document or your favorite notepad.
  2. Write down what room or space you are currently in.
  3. Write down six random items or objects that are in the space. Each item must be different and must actually be in the space.
  4. Take a picture of each of the six items that you just recorded in your document. You can take the picture with your Surface or with another device.

Part 2:

  1. Reflect: Do you see any connections between the six items that you selected in the space?
  2. How does this space impact you? What is your current emotional state?

Part 3:
Now, you will use the six items that you randomly selected from the room to think deeply about leadership and what it means to you. As we move forward with the spring semester, our goal is to help you further develop your STEM leadership skills. So, let’s get started!

As you examine the six random objects that you have selected, think about how each one could represent a characteristic or element of leadership. In your document, record how each of the six random items represents or symbolizes leadership. You may choose to use key words or short descriptions. Feel free to tell a story of leadership with the items, create a metaphor, create similies, etc. Take creative license in the connections that you find!

Part 4:
In your document, reflect back on Part 2 and the questions that you answered. How did being in this room impact you? What emotions were you experiencing? Now, think of it in the context of leadership. How does a leader impact the room? How are your emotions impacted by leaders around you? Record your thoughts in your document.

Part 5:
What does leadership mean to you? In your document, record your working definition of leadership and any other thoughts that you have on the topic.

Part 6:
It’s time to create and share! Your goal is to create a leadership collage (use your favorite Surface app, Pixlr Express, PicMonkey, or another favorite photo editor). Your leadership collage should include:

  • A title
  • All six pictures that you took of your randomly selected items
  • The connections that you made from your six items to leadership
  • A text description of what leadership means to you

Post your finished collage to your website by January 26th. In addition, tweet it out to #MSUrbanSTEM15 with a 126 character definition of what leadership means to you.

Looking forward…
This activity allows us to think about who we choose to be each time we step into a room. We actively make the choice to lead in situations or to follow, which can be influenced by the people in the room and their emotions. Each person in the room is different and comes with their own unique attributes, just as the random objects that you selected. Leaders may also have to find connections in situations where they are not easily visible.  While we must be aware of the four walls that make up the room – the boundaries of the people we lead and the boundaries of the idea – as leaders, it is up to us to also push beyond those four walls.

Rocking the Boat in four stages
Jan 26 – Feb 22
  1. Skim and review
    Task Zero: Write a short review of 350-500 words as a response to the book. This review should reflect a general understanding of what the book is about and what you understand
    Waiting for the book to arrive? Start with the first two chapters here: Rocking the Boat: Tempered Radicals Chapters 1 and 2.
  2. How am I different?
    Task One: In her book, Debra Meyerson identifies three ways you can be different. How far do one or more of these apply to you? Is there something missing in her framework that you bring in? Write a response addressing these questions in 350 to 500 words.
  3. Becoming a Tempered Radical
    Task Two: Chapters 3 to 7 in this book focus on how Tempered Radicals make a difference. Where do you see yourself lying on the continuum (see page 8)? Where do you aim to be on this continuum? What goals do you see yourself setting to move forward? What are some lessons you take form the stories in this book that would apply to you? Write a response addressing these questions in 500 words.
  4. Facing challenges
    Task Three: Debra Meyerson talks about 4 levels of challenges. How do you see yourself dealing with some, if not all, of these challenges in your work situation? Write a response in 500 words.
Setting goals (Instrumental and Missional thinking)
Feb 23 – March 07
Having read Rocking the Boat and worked on Tasks Zero to Three, you should now be able to situate yourself on the continuum of being a Tempered Radical. We will now focus on using what we have learned from our reading of the book and its application in our professional settings.In Task Three: Facing Challenges, you read Meyerson’s 4 levels of challenges and reflected on how you see yourself dealing with some of these challenges. Holding the thread from this task, let’s start thinking about setting some goals for ourselves. Now that we know the challenges we could face and ways to deal with them, what kind of goals do you visualize for yourself? Take a moment to write these goals down. In your vision, do you imagine your goals being more instrumental or missional? Don’t know what these terms mean? This quick reading will help you decide for yourself:

Instrumental Thinking

Instrumental Thinking is the tendency to fashion a vision for a tool or an idea around that tool or idea itself. That is, this is a tool-centric way of thinking. For example, here is something a person with instrumental thinking would say: “The focus of our technology plan is on adding interactive whiteboards to the classroom. We’re also interested in student response systems and thinking through Twitter use and applications.” Some consider instrumental thinking to be both prevalent and problematic. Sometimes, it can be one of the biggest enemies of vision.

Missional Thinking

Missional thinking, on the other hand, is generally thought of as based on a larger vision, strategy, or goal. For example, a missional thinker would say something like this: “Our technology plan is about increasing student engagement in learning. We know that the research is unambiguous in its view that meaningful student learning is realized only when students are active, invested, and engaged. We need technologies that help our teachers engage students who live in worlds dominated by computer mediated experiences. As such, we are exploring interactive whiteboards, student response systems, and social media like Twitter for classroom projects.”

The best articulation of the division between instrumental and missional thinking is found in the work of Professor Stanley Katz. Katz spent much of his career as a professor at Princeton (after studying at Harvard), and worked mostly in history and law. He is not a computer contrarian per se, though he can be critical of technological thinking. He published a piece in one of the Edu-cause journals (which exist to promote information technology in higher education) because he noticed a disturbing trend in higher education: it seemed that the conversations around technology at colleges and universities were about how to draw in technology for technology’s sake. This is what we term “instrumental thinking”: the focus is on the instrument and not the purpose the instrument must support.

Read Stanley Katz’s Don’t Confuse a Tool with a Goal.

Having read about and identified instrumental and missional thinking, which one do you prefer? Or do you prefer a balance of the two when setting your goals?

Now, using your understanding of instrumental and missional thinking, set up two sets of goals: one set of short term goals, and another of long term goals. The short term goals are somethings you aim to achieve in, say 6 months. And the long term goals are somethings you plan to do in next 5 years. Both these goals need to be STEM and/or leadership-related. We will use these goals to shape your Personal Manifesto.

Need help writing goals? Check out this additional resource: Writing SMART goals

Write a 350-500 words response defining your goals.