Team Leader Experience: Take 2 Danielle Ledezma

Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow. ~Carolyn Myss

I had the opportunity to become a Blue Chip Team Leader for the second during the fall of 2016. I had been a Team Leader the previous year, with a partner, Justine Bacchus. However, this year I was a solo team leader. The process was a great deal different, as I did not have another person to rely on during the meetings. During my first semester as a Team Leader, Justine and I had a very diverse and unique team.

Leading as a team leader this year was also completely different from the past because I was undertaking new challenges within the University. I got elected as an At Large Senator with the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. This combined with another internship on the side poised some Time Management challenges for me. Although I was undertaking new roles, I still made time for the Team Leader Role because I know how imperative it is to have strong leadership and mentor roles for students when the first get into a university.

Field Day 2016

The Arizona Blue Chip Program had grown a significant amount from 2015 to 2016. There were 43 teams this year, Fall 2016. Because of this, the program split the teams into cohorts based on colleges. I received a pre-business cohort. As an economics minor, I am some what familiar with the Eller College of Management, which helped me bridge a connection right away with these students. Team 41 had an instant connect. While each and everyone was unique in their own ways, they all had something that bonded them right away.

Bruce Tuckman's Forming-Storming-Norming-Adjoring model to describe group development is a great representation of how Team 41 evolved. Though significant time may have been spent on certain portions of the model. The evolution reflects this model.

Team 41 began with 15 members, and with time, that number did shrink. However, I was not surprised because this had occurred the year before. Also with Blue Chip increasing to around 700 freshman, it was evident that not all of them were going to stay on the team because other opportunities arise or the members may not feel that Blue Chip is the right fit for them.

This year, I had 3 main goals for the team. The first was to get them to find clubs and organizations outside of Blue Chip that interest them, to engage with various populations at the University of Arizona. The second was to work together, outside of the team meetings. As an Eller Cohort, they had similar class schedules and requirements. I wanted to make sure that they utilized each other, because they are the best resources to each other. Finally, for them to enjoy what they do and learn in the program. Even if it is taking what they have learned and apply it elsewhere.

Forming definitely took the longest time to transition from. During the first weeks of Team 41's meetings, the meetings were not consistent. In both attendance and in engagement. After about 3 weeks of deteriorating interest, I finally decided to send out a doodle poll to change the meeting time. As I wanted more of my students to be able to attend. This rolled into a significantly later meeting time, at 9:15pm on Mondays. However, I saw attendance spike from here on out. The attendance was also much more consistent, the majority of the team was showing up.

Storming was somewhat relevant from the middle of the semester and went on towards the end. However, as we started to divulge in to the Blue Chip curriculum, I realized that I had a team which was very smart, they did all of the activities with ease. While this was awesome that they had gotten the task so quickly, their engagement began to diminish at this point. I decided to change up the curriculum in order to suit my team. I incorporated more activities, instead of just going over the curriculum. As I changed things up, I saw an amazing increase in engagement and willingness to learn more. This also lightened the mood a great deal because I did not feel that they were all disappointed in the way that I was teaching them.

Even though Blue Sync occurred later on in the semester, I could sense a bit of storming occurring during the planing process. The team strongly struggled finding a song and dance routine which reflected what they wanted to do during the event. I really encouraged them to plan it on their own and did my best to step away. However, they were not successfully able to meet outside of meetings and were not proactive in practicing. This lead to some team members feeling nonchalant about things and were not driven to assist anymore than they had to. Also those who were actively trying to be successful, were discouraged when other teammates showed little interest. This caused tension within the team. After Blue Sync, I knew that I had to address the highs and lows of the event. At the next meeting I asked them to write down their pros and cons of the process and event. We then went over each one, individually and anonymously. I think that this opened up some conversation and was significant. Although I do not think everything was addressed, for the most part the team had began to norm after the reflection of this process.

I think the largest transition that Team 41 encountered was during Field Day. Originally, a few of them were not very happy about giving up their Sunday mornings. However as they began to do team building excersizes with AS A TEAM, all of their demeanors changed. They all began to exchange taking the lead in each activity. It was really the first time they were truly excited to work together as a team and were upfront about encouraging each other.

They also found a sense of content in the synergy aspect of the evaluations of the other team. I think the term was a catalyst for them. Once they learned what "synergy" meant, their energies totally increase, encouraging one another and encouraging other teams. This term has since carried on throughout our meetings and activities. The majority of the team always acknowledges when there is good synergy going on, or when they need to increase their engagement.

This norming process, from Field Day, really helped them to begin using the GroupMe more often. Because most of them were in the same classes, through Eller prerequisites, they have similar assignments and projects. Some of them even began to work together to accomplish their projects. I think that some of them have also begun to form friendships aside from the group and actively hangout with each other, socially.

My favorite part about being involved with any organization is community involvement.I think that completing service is literally the most rewarding aspect of being involved with anything. Outside of Blue Chip, I am involved with Rotary International, whose overarching goal is to eradicate Polio from the planet. Even though it is not a threat here on United States soil, it is still active in 3 countries abroad. Rotary using El Tour de Tucson as a means to raise money for their PolioPlus campaign. Riders from all over the world participate in the different distances.

Wildcat Service Saturday was the only time that the team was able to agree upon, in regards to their schedules. However, when I learned that it was on November 19th, at 8am, I was somewhat heart-broken. I had volunteered with El Tour, the previous two years, assisting riders during the race with the Rotaract Club on campus. I was really sad that I had to give that up to volunteer in another area because it has such a significance to me. HOWEVER, I was unbelievably excited to learn that we were placed to volunteer with one of the aid stations along the 81st mile post of the 105mile race. I was so excited that it evidently influenced my team to be excited as well. Although only 4 of them were ultimately able to go to Wildcat Service Saturday, I think that their teamwork really expressed how well they were preforming and that they crossed that bridge. We were also partnered with another team, which I think was really beneficial, because they got to interact with other members in the Blue Chip Program, some of whom they new and others they did not. It was also awesome to see them put in a service position, helping and cheering on the riders. There was also a point where a bicyclist fell and caused a collision a few meters from where we were. A portion of my team and the other team grabbed some water and snacks and rushed over there to make sure that the riders were taken care of, to the best of the ability they could provide, until the medics could get there. I do not know if they would have all worked together in the way that they did, if something like this were to occur in the beginning. I was impressed. I think their actions really reflect who they are and how they have grown.

Ultimately, they were all a little sad inside when we our time to leave the aid station came upon us. Because we had to be on the bus at 12, however the race did not end for a few more hours and we left during a rush. However, they ultimately enjoyed the experience. I think that through this, they also learned how important it is to take the intiative, where it be proactive in setting up, or in just cheering on the rider, they really did leave their mark, even if it was just on that portion of the race, I do believe that it is significant.

As a team leader for the second time, I have much more knowledge about the opportunities around campus and the structure of Blue Chip. Ultimately, I ended up with 9 out of 15 team members and from that only 6 of them were consistent and great with communication. I think that there are a few reasons for this happening. The first is the impact of the Eller College of Management. As one of the best business schools in the country, I know that once someone gets sucked into the Eller coursework and opportunities within the school, it is more difficult to get them out again. Eller has other awesome leadership programs and opportunities. I knew this going into an Eller team. However, I made it a point to always encourage them to find where their passions are and get involved in places where they see themselves succeeding. While that may or may not include Blue Chip, I pushed them to at least follow through with the program, to for accountability purposes. I know that coming into college is difficult. I want them to feel comfortable coming to me with their concerns and academic questions, that is why I chose to be honest and open with them throughout the semester, because I felt that it would help them transition better. I did not want them to treat Blue Chip as something they could miss because they did not feel like attending. I actively called them out(individually) when they did not communicate with me or did not show up to a meeting. I really pushed communication and accountability the last few weeks, because it is understand able that students get busy with midterms and finals coming up, however, it reflects on them, especially in the workplace or a professional setting where there are much larger consequences for not letting their supervisors know that they will not be attending.

A group becomes a team, when each person is sure enough of themselves...to praise the skills of others -Norman Shidle
Leadership is a progress, not a perfection. -Steven Furtick

While this experience as a team leader was completely different experience from my first one, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know my team and learn from them. While each team is different and face different obstacles, I found myself dealing with situations I was not always sure that I could handle, however through some trial and error, I found ways of holding meetings which totally uplifted the atmosphere. I think that all of the goals that I had set out for them were accomplished. While not always in the same manner that I had orignially perceived. Most of them did get involved with other organizations, greek life, Eller honoraries, and clubs on campus. They did utilize each other for help on projects and would get together to team up for projects. The final goal I had for them was not accomplished in the same way that I had expected. While I do not expect the majority of them to stay in the program, I think that at the end of the day, they have grown in their leadership capabilities and have found a group of people to rely on.

What I have learned these past few months, from this group of individuals has been incredible. Because of them, I have realized the importance of keeping an open mind and being adaptable. For a long time, I have always just followed the rules and the cirriculum, and while it is always important to stay on task and have an overarching objective, it is also so imperative to find what works for the team, for that group of individuals. While I have lived in other countries and traveled a lot, being adaptable is something that I can take any where, each person and culture is so different. With Blue Chip, as a team leader, it is like a lottery for the group I get, and that is like the Business world, as I apply to grad schools. I know that there are going to be people from different cultures and of different languages that I work and engage with in International Business and Affairs. When it comes to handling situations, I think that the experience of facilitating freshman is a unique opportunity because I get to experience what these students are going through, what can I do as their leader to help them succeed in school and be an important resource.

If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one ~Mother Teresa
Created By
Danielle Ledezma
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Arizona Blue CHip program

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