I just returned from the PRSSA National Conference in San Francisco and my mind is still trying to wrap itself around all the amazing information distributed at the sessions. I attended a few of the “student” sessions and live-tweeted tips. You can follow my posts on my Twitter feed under the hashtags #prsaicon and #prssanc. PRSSA at LSU students also live-tweeted and blogged about their experiences. You can find their twitter feed here and their blog posts here. If you want to see photos from the trip follow us on Facebook under PRSSA at LSU.
Ok, enough blatant promotion for one blog. What I really wanted to talk about was what went on when the students weren’t around. On the very first day PRSSA got the faculty advisers together to discuss the role of leadership development in our Chapters.
We were introduced to the Theory of Self-Authorship that many of our students go through in college. It involves them asking: 1) How do I know?, 2) Who am I?, and 3) How do I want to construct relationships? The theory suggests that students progress through following “formulas,” coming to a crossroads, becoming the author of their own lives, and establishing an internal foundation they use to make decisions for the rest of their lives.
It was suggested that it is the implied responsibility of the faculty adviser to assist students with these questions and help them become good leaders. A pretty HUGE undertaking if you ask me.
I have only been the faculty adviser for 1.5 semesters, but I took a moment to reflect on what I had been doing as the adviser so far. I had been putting out fires, helping set up communication plans, rules and guidelines, and advocating PRSSA and PRestige with the other Manship faculty. I honestly don’t know that any of these has been helping the PRSSA members become good leaders.
The panelists went on to instruct us to ask PRSSA members the following question: What is your legacy going to be?
Nothing like easy, softball questions, right?
How do I help students determine and achieve their legacies while teaching them how to be good leaders? The panelists provided us with some advice: let students fail, let them disagree (and teach them how to disagree appropriately), and help them understand the link between likability and respect.
I also need to stop “doing” for them and make them do for themselves through the following: 1) listening to students, 2) asking what they need, 3) helping them set goals, and 4) helping them identify challenges.
It’s going to be a challenge for me to step back and allow them to make mistakes, but in the end they may learn the best lessons this way. And, after all, isn’t investing in students and teaching them life lessons what I want my legacy to be?