For over four decades, the Independent Activities Period (IAP) has provided members of the MIT community with a unique opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities. The options are endless and range from four-week immersive trips to Italy to on campus forums and lecture series, as well as films, tours, recitals, and contests. This year, the Army ROTC program hosted its inaugural Leadership Development Workshop from February 1–3. Led by Captain Emily Hannenberg and assisted by ROTC Staff, the workshop aimed to expose aspiring leaders of all backgrounds to leadership theory, techniques, experiences, and skills.
The ROTC program at MIT and the military in its entirety values Leadership Development at its very core. When Lieutenant Colonel Godfrin, head of Army ROTC at MIT, approached the department about giving back to the Institute, Captain Hannenberg presented the idea for an IAP workshop open to the entire MIT community. The three-day workshop involved classroom time, hands-on leadership building activities, and a day spent at Metro Rock Climbing Gym in Everett. A diverse group of participants included undergraduate and graduate students, MIT IS&T analysts, varsity athletes, employees from the Registrar’s Office, and varsity football and softball coaches. Clearly, leadership is an important subject to many spanning across a variety of interests and fields.
Participants learned about many different styles of leadership as well as how and when to implement certain strategies. They were introduced to the military’s leadership style called “mission command,” and used what they had learned in order to complete and solve team building tasks like getting the entire team across a “river,” or guiding a blindfolded partner through a “minefield.” Participants explored topics of power and influence as well as their roles in leadership. Students contemplated the idea of different nonverbal cues of power, such as posture, eye contact, dress, and environment, as well as influence tactics such as appealing to values, using rational persuasion, or offering an exchange.
The feedback from the workshop was overwhelmingly positive, and Captain Hannenberg hopes to be able to offer it again next year, possibly for credit. She was incredibly pleased with the inaugural workshop and especially surprised by the diversity of the group and everyone’s willingness to be vulnerable when thrown into activities in which many people did not know one another. At the end of the three days, participants felt energized and prepared with new tools and techniques to return to their schoolwork or jobs and tackle personal leadership challenges.
If you or your team or organization have questions or challenges regarding leadership development, please contact Leah Flynn Gallant, Assistant Dean and Director of Student Leadership and Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Student Leadership Programs page. For information on this specific program, please visit the MIT ROTC website.
Written by Brenna Morrissey