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Course Intro


  Module Four: Student Leadership  
  Basic Leadership Qualities    

Leadership Styles

  People in leadership positions may use a variety of "styles" in reaching a decision. Basically, these styles differ in the amount of participation they allow from those they work with.
The amount of confidence the leader has in the group to perform the task.  

The amount of trust the leader has in the group to act in a responsible and mature manner.

The amount of confidence the leader has in himself or herself, (or possibly the fear of losing control of the group).  
The amount of security the leader feels with his own supervisor(s).  
The nature of the task the group has to perform.  

The objectives the leader wants to accomplish.


The ethics or values of the leader.

  Listed below are descriptions of five different leadership "styles." Remember, the leader NEVER gives up the AUTHORITY or the RESPONSIBILITY for the FINAL DECISION.
  Style #1 YOU DECIDE ALONE. You make the decision without discussing the situation with anyone. You rely entirely on personal knowledge or information available in written documents. in this style, the leader TELLS the decision.
  Style #2 YOU SEEK INFORMATION AND THEN DECIDE ALONE. You seek additional information from one or more group members to arrive at a decision. You may or may not describe the problem to them, but you solicit information only, not solutions or suggestions. With this style, the leader SELLS the decision.
  Style #3 YOU CONSULT WITH INDIVIDUALS AND THEN DECIDE ALONE. You share the problem with selected individuals. You gather additional information from them and seek their advice about possible solutions to the problem. Still, you make the decision. With this style, the leader TALKS the decision.
  Style #4 YOU CONSULT WITH YOUR ENTIRE GROUP AND THEN DECIDE ALONE. You meet with group members and discuss the possible alternatives, essentially using them as consultants. You may use their feelings and opinions as additional inputs, but you retain the final decision power. With this style, the leader CONSULTS regarding the decision.
  Style #5 YOU SHARE THE PROBLEM WITH THE GROUP AND YOU ALL DECIDE WHAT TO DO. Here you give your group full participation in the decision-making process. You may define the problem for them, provide relevant information, and participate in the discussion as any other member, but you do not use your position as leader to influence them. The group is the decision maker, and you accept not only their decision, but also the responsibility for it. Your description to others will be, "We decided to . . .," and NOT, "The group decided to . . .." or "I decided to . . ." W this style, the leader JOINS the decision.
  Remember, no single leadership style is always the appropriate style to use. As the situation changes and as the task or goals change, the style may change. Leaders should be aware of these various styles and seek to use the appropriate style in the proper situation.  

Effective Listening

  A leader must be an effective listener. A few simple rules and considerable practice can help you become an effective listener. Effective listening will not only improve your ability to communicate, it will also improve your leadership ability. The leader who learns to listen will project an image of interest to team members that will in turn motivate those team members to become more productive. Everyone is hungry to share their ideas if they feel the ideas will be heard and considered.

Listening Principles

  1. Listing is an active process which demands constant concentration. You cannot be a lazy or part-time listener and hope to be an effective listener.
  2. Do not make prior judgments as to the importance of the message being transmitted. if you fail to recognize the importance of the message, you may have the tendency to disregard the content.
  3. If you cannot hear the speaker clearly, correct the situation or else the time will be wasted for all concerned.
  4. A reason or purpose for listening enhances listening effectiveness. You listen more intently to what you are interested in than what is important to you.
  5. A person should listen to the complete message and determine the meaning rather than making a snap judgment before the message is completed.
  6. A good listener must ignore distractions and concentrate on the message. You have to tune-out everything that is irrelevant to the message.
  7. Don't formulate a response until the message is transmitted in its entirety. The ineffective listener will formulate his or her response before the speaker finishes, often interrupting the speaker.
  8. Clarify the message with the sender to assure that the message is understood.
  9. Listen not only to the words being transmitted but the essence of the message being communicated.
  10. Listen intently to the feelings expressed by the speaker.
  11. Make mental notes as to what was said throughout the communication process. After the message has been transmitted, you should make written notes especially for detailed or technical items.
  12. Be aware of non-verbal cues. Remember that how a person is acting is just as important as what they are saying.

  Following these principles will improve your effectiveness as a leader. An effective listener must also be able to demonstrate that he or she is listening by responding to the communication being transmitted. Two simple tools will further improve your ability to communicate and demonstrate that you are listening. The tools are:
  1. Confirmation
  2. Clarification


  It is important that you understand what has been transmitted. You may have been listening but may not have received the message being transmitted. Confirmation should be used when you feel you understand exactly what was said and why the message was transmitted. Confirmation is especially important if you disagree with the message or if you are being called upon to commit yourself to a particular course of action.

For example, you are a committee chairperson responsible for planning the Health Care Community banquet at your school, and you are talking to Mary, an active HOSA member.

  Mary "It's not that I don't want to go to the banquet, I just don't have the money. I've had some money problems recently and I don't have it."
  You feel you understand what Mary said and why. You feel that Mary has money problems, but you want to be sure you understand correctly.
  You "Let me see if I understand correctly. You want to attend the banquet, but due to money problems, you don't feel you can. Is that correct?"
  Note that all you have done is attempt to confirm what Mary has said. Mary now has the opportunity to agree or disagree with what you've said. She also can see that you are trying to understand her and her concerns.

Now, assume you are president of your HOSA chapter. Your chapter is discussing criteria for selecting delegates to the National Leadership Conference. You won't have any competitors, but your chapter enthusiasm is high and many chapter members want to attend. Your chapter advisor has turned the responsibility for selecting three members to attend from your chapter over to your executive council.

  John "I think we've got to decide tonight so they can get busy making plans. I think only second year members should be allowed to go. This is our last chance, and the others will have another year."
  How would you respond to John using confirmation?

Remember - Don't assume you understand. Confirm the message.



  Clarification is used when you don't understand what is being transmitted or you are not certain of the speaker's motives. For example, if you are sitting at a chapter meeting and:
  Jean "Believe me, I don't want to get out of being on our chapter's Parliamentary Procedure team, but it'll be the best for everyone if I do."
  To use clarification, you might respond by saying:
  You "Jean, I don't think I understand what you mean. Explain it to me."
  Note that as the listener, you are making no judgments or assumptions. You want to understand what Jean is saying before responding to what she is saying - and that is effective listening. To answer prior to understanding does not demonstrate good leadership skills.

How would you use clarification to respond to the following statement:

  Jack "The election was rigged. You knew Marcos wouldn't have a chance to be elected."

How would you respond to Jack using clarification?


Being an effective listener requires practice. HOSA leadership allows you the opportunity to practice your listening skills.

As a leader, you must motivate other HOSA members. You must gain their commitment to you and the organization. A person who feels another person is interested in their ideas and will consider those ideas, will respond positively to the listener.


Constructive Feedback

  A person in a leadership role accepts the responsibility of helping others improve, and for self improvement. This process requires the leader to make observations and constructive suggestions, and to be able to accept constructive suggestions from other leaders.

There are many who feel that feedback is the same as criticism and is not a positive tool. Feedback can be positive if it is used in an effective manner. Feedback lets a person know how to improve his or her performance or what's wrong with an idea.

Good feedback can correct a problem when HOSA leaders learn to give the feedback in a positive manner. Practice will help you develop your skill in providing feedback so that group members will feel like "winners". Guidelines to follow when providing feedback include:


  1. Corrective feedback should only be offered as a means of helping improve a group member's performance or ideas. it is important that the group member perceive the leader's intent as improvement.
  2. Constructive feedback or criticism directed toward an individual should never be given in front of other group members.
  3. Never offer feedback in an angry or punishing way.
  4. Feedback should include both the merits as well as the areas needing improvement in a person's performance or ideas.
  5. Feedback, both positive and corrective, should be specific.
  6. Constructive feedback is enhanced when the leader is an effective listener and takes time to secure the information needed to provide good feedback.
  Read each statement below and determine if it adheres to the guidelines for constructive feedback. Place a (T) in the space provided for those statements that would help a member improve his or her performance.  
  1. "James, I can't believe you did that. Do you realize you've ruined everything?"
  1. "Jane, your committee did an excellent job in planning this morning's breakfast meeting. I'd like to suggest that you visit with me before our next meeting because I have some ideas for improving attendance at our breakfast meetings."
  1. "That's a great idea for a chapter activity George. Would you consider starting the activity an hour earlier to allow our members to get home sooner in the evening?"
  1. "No Karen. That just won't work."
  1. "I don't know why you can't do what I ask you to do. You always do things your way and not the way I tell you to do them. Why can't you listen?"
  A good leader is always aware of what is happening in the organization, and how members of the organization are feeling about chapter progress. When chapter members are active, they need consistent and frequent feedback from their leaders.

One final note. A good leader is able to accept feedback as well as give it. If the group shares their concerns, a good leader listens and considers what the group members have to say. If the chapter or state advisor makes suggestions, the good leader listens carefully and attempts to make corrections. Remember, the good of the organization should be everyone's concern. Using feedback effectively can help an organization achieve its goals.


Leading Group Discussions

  A leader must interact with other members of the group. For example:
    • You may need to transmit information to them.
    • You may need input regarding a decision that must be made.
    • You may want them to help you make a decision.

Group discussions demonstrate to the membership that you are interested in their ideas. When members realize their importance to you and the group, they will be more committed to the decisions that are made.

The following recommendations are provided to improve your discussion leading skills.

  1. Do not dominate the group. It is easy for the leader to push his or her ideas through because of their position, but that isn't usually good for the organization.
  2. Do not compete with members of the group. If competition exists within the group, more time is spent trying to win a personal triumph rather than sharing ideas with the group.
  3. Be a good listener. Remember to listen for both comprehension and feelings.
  4. Encourage the group to look at different points of view. Different points of view should be regarded as healthy and should be encouraged.
  5. Encourage the group to submit ideas that have not been fully developed but that may stimulate additional comments.
  6. You should always identify the group's goals at the beginning of the discussion so that everyone knows what is expected. Remember that your goal in the group discussion is to accomplish the objectives that were stated at the beginning of the discussion.
  7. Let the group members know the time constraints of the discussion.
  8. Always let the group know what they have accomplished. They should know that the exercise was not a lesson in futility but has made a significant contribution.
  9. Be sure to formulate a plan of action that you will take as a result of your group's discussion.
  10. Always express your appreciation to the group for participating in the discussion.
  11. If appropriate, send a copy of the notes taken during the discussion to each member of the group.
  12. Conduct an orderly meeting by using the following rules:
    • Don't allow new topics to be introduced while another is being discussed.
    • Use corrective feedback effectively.
    • Let the group know if a particular topic is not within the purposes of the group discussion.
    • Do not allow more than one person to talk at a time.
I did not belong as a kid, and that always bothered me. If only I'd known that one day my differences would be an asset, then my early life would have been easier.
                  -Bette Midler

Organizational Conflict Management

  Every organization experiences conflict at one time or another. When conflict occurs, members of the organization can try to solve the conflict - or ignore it.

Ignoring conflict is usually not helpful for an organization. Conflict is often a sign that something needs to be discussed, reconsidered, or evaluated. Ignoring conflict avoids the problem-solving process, often making the original problem even worse, or adding more problems.

When a leader notices that a conflict exists, the leader is obligated to address the problem. Attempting to resolve conflict is an attempt to view problems honestly and openly. It is also an attempt at providing an atmosphere of fairness for the organization.

How does a leader resolve organizational conflict?

  Step #1 Recognize that conflict exists  -  Alandra, who is usually very vocal won't talk at a meeting. Carlotta refuses to communicate with the chapter treasurer. Hidaki has been late for the past three meetings. These situations are signs that something could be wrong, or that a conflict exists.
  Step #2 Clarify the problem  -  Observe the behavior of chapter members and ask non-threatening questions to find out what the REAL problem is. "AHidaki, I notice you've been a little late to our last few meetings. is something wrong?"
  Step #3 Determine a plan for addressing the conflict  -  Not all methods and styles of conflict resolution work for all problems. Carefully consider the situation as well as the characteristics of the people involved in planning a strategy for conflict resolution. "Carolotta, since you and Alandra dno't seem to be talking, would you prefer that I ask her for financial information, or do you think it would be better if you communicated with her in writing?"
  Make it a win-win situation? Wouldn't it be nice if everyone in the situation could feel good about the solution? Thoughtful problem solving can often result in all parties feeling good.

Generally, a solution to a problem can fall into one of the following categories:

  Competition "I win, you lose." My needs are met, yours aren't.
  Appeasement "You win, I lose." I give in, you get what you want.
  Lose-Lose Nobody gets anything. We both lose.
  Compromise We each give a little and get a little.
  Win-Win We redefine the problem to figure out what really matters, and then we find a solution that meets both our needs.
  Here is an example of a problem: There is only one piece of pizza left, and we both want it.
  Competition I get the pizza.
  Appeasement You can have the pizza.
  Lose-Lose We give the pizza to someone else.
  Compromise We cut the pizza in half and share it.
  Win-Win We redefine our needs and determine that we're both REALLY hungry, so we order another pizza!
  Remember, there isn't always a win-win solution to every problem, but every problem can benefit from the reevaluation that finding a win-win solution demands. Keep in mind too that a win-win situation focuses on the needs of both sides equally. It also requires a focus on the goals that surround the conflict and not the personalities of the people involved.

In order to create a win-win situation, both sides must be willing to:

  1. Actively listen
  2. Trust each other
  3. Consider a variety of possibilities
  4. Change

Is there always a "win-win" solution?

Sometimes, the conclusion reached is that there is no solution that will make both parties happy. In such cases, it is important that group members "agree to disagree." When that happens, it is important for group members to accept their individual differences, and understand that it is OK to occasionally disagree about a situation. As long as group members agree on the greater good and purpose of the organization and respect each other, the organization will be able to work effectively.

Now, you try it!

You want to go to a movie, but your best friend wants to go bowling!

  Competition _________________________________
Appeasement ________________________________
Lose-Lose __________________________________
Compromise _________________________________
Win-Win ___________________________________

Remember to. . .

  1. Be reasonable and stay calm.
  2. Be positive. Truly want to solve the conflict.
  3. Avoid name calling of any kind - and don't get personal.
  4. Look on the light side. Mild humor or flattery may lighten a tense situation.
  5. Focus on doing the right things.

Most importantly, a leader takes responsibility to make it work. There is a moral imperative that makes a leader see right from wrong, and work toward the direction of making it right. With conflict resolution, that means figuring out what ought to happen, and then finding ways to make it happen.



How to Lose at Leadership

  1. Set out to defeat someone or something.
  2. Focus on your own personal goals.
  3. Show your superiority by forcing others into submission.
  4. Try to put yourself in a position of power.
  5. Use threats to get others to do things your way.
  6. Act unpredictably and surprise people.
  7. Pretend to agree with and support whoever you're with.
  8. Avoid trying to understand the feelings of others.
  9. Don't let people work together and think for themselves.
  10. Emphasize the insignificance of others and the superiority of your own position.