Over the course of putting together my Service Action Plan, and participating in SLC 101, I learned a lot about the philosophy of Relational Leadership, and tried my best to use my new knowledge to build my Service Action Proposal. Over the course of putting together my Service Action Proposal, I made sure my purpose was known – to do my part in helping use the current US legal system to its fullest extent to bring justice to people across North Carolina. I made sure to empower different sources of information that I used, specifically Mr. Sean Driscoll, the Director of Public Relations for Legal Aid of North Carolina, and made sure their input was used when crafting the final Service Action Proposal. Although I didn’t use many resources past Mr. Driscoll and the Legal Aid of North Carolina website while putting together the Service Action Proposal, I was open to what they had to tell me and changed my preconceived plans about what I wanted to do to help their organization out. I also made sure that the way I produced my Proposal was ethical, making sure Mr. Driscoll had plenty of time to schedule an interview with me and not waiting until the last minute to throw everything together. I also did my homework on Legal Aid of North Carolina beforehand, and ensured that the questions I was asking Mr. Driscoll weren’t redundant. I will admit, however, that I lacked in the process-orientation section of the Relational Leadership Model – I didn’t come into this project very sure of what I was doing, and had to kind of wing it until I figured out an ebb-and-flow of how to bring everything together. If I want to become a better relational leader, I need to really focus on motivating myself to complete tasks that do not sound as appealing to me as “the dream” does. When I came into this project, I wanted to help Legal Aid of North Carolina expand and become a more grassroots organization, spreading its assistance more broadly and making sure it had the resources to do that – to put it in a few words, I wanted this Service Action Proposal to be a big show of force for economic justice in North Carolina. However, as I developed my proposal, I came to the conclusion that the best way to help Legal Aid of North Carolina would be to organize on campus to hold a workshop about women’s legal rights in cases of domestic and sexual abuse – a project much smaller and far from the focus I had my mind set on initially. Though I see that work as important, I don’t see it as my grandest goal in life to bring further justice in that area – I see people like my friend Caroline Laughlin, who is a member of NC State’s chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and think that people like her are much better qualified to lead the charge for sexual justice. However, maybe this revelation sheds light on another part of the Relational Leadership Model where I have strength: the ability to empower others because i’m knowledgeable of their strengths and passions.
If I were to implement my proposed service activity in the spring, the Village could best help by continuing to involve me in tasks that maybe don’t feel like the best use of my time, but have an important purpose, to get me used to the idea that the world won’t always be my sandbox. This is an idea I most certainly have a grasp of, but now is one of the first times in my life in which I am seriously committed to an organization that is more about learning than it is about using the skills that I already have. This development connects to my Talent Themes in that it contributes to my deep-seeded belief in the connectedness of all things. Here, specifically, it relates to the fact that all of the work that Legal Aid of North Carolina does is helping to bring the people of North Carolina to full, empowering justice, no matter if that work is about economic justice, or sexual justice, or immigration justice, and it’s important to keep in mind that no matter what kind of work is being done, it’s all pointed toward that shared goal of justice for all. My commitment to the idea that the exacting of justice needs to be driven by sweeping reform and civic involvement, not just tinkering around the edges of one issue or another, speaks to my strength of intellect. Intellect allows me to put the pieces together and see that poverty, domestic violence, and injustices in the immigration system aren’t separate problems, but actually have quite a lot of intersection.
Two concrete action steps I can take to accomplish my leadership development needs in order to implement my Service Action Proposal in the spring are to better understand how to organize an event, which I am already doing somewhat within the Leadership Development committee in ILC, and I also need to achieve a better understanding of how to communicate with those who don’t share my same ideals about the things that I am trying to get done, because a movement will never become anything if it doesn’t bring outsiders in. I could do this by attending trainings with various justice-minded organizations on messaging and communication, and studying the ways by which they spread their objectives.
My overall leadership philosophy has not necessarily changed since starting this project, but it has definitely deepened. I have never seen myself to be a born leader – i’ve always seen the necessity of involving all facets of an organization in achieving its ultimate goal. This class, and my experiences at NC State as a whole, have affirmed that belief and showed me how to actually make sure that the tasks of an organization are distributed fairly, and that all members of said organization have their voice heard within the inevitable, but often fragile hierarchy that is part of having an organization with a goal.