Lessons in Leadership Week 4- Representative Cyndi Munson

Representative Munson spoke about many ways to actively engage with others, including those who think differently than we do. She touched specifically on the importance of seeing everyone as a human first, before we see them as the stances they take, organizations they are a part of, etc. This can be a challenging task. How do we as leaders manage this process, and still inspire and lead in our communities surrounding the areas we are passionate about? 

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    Gracie Barnett

    Having discussions with people who believe and think differently than you can be difficult if you are very passionate about your beliefs and values. However, seeing everyone as human and showing people love and respect should not be a challenge. That is where some people who do not show the best qualities of a leader go down the wrong path. Being a leader means listening to your followers. In order to inspire our communities and seek change, we must learn what needs to be changed. The only way to do this is to talk to people and hear them out. As leaders, we want to make changes in order to create the world that we want to see. But we can’t just think of ourselves. We have to think about the community we are leading and the kind of world they want to see. I personally don’t think anything should be one-sided. When it comes to these big issues that everyone argues about today, no one is open-minded. We should be taking pieces from both sides and seeing how we can put them together to make compromises so that we can accommodate everyone. These are the ways we will bring more people together and create positive change in the world.

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    Jenna Gaberino

    I think an important aspect of a leader is having an open mind and being able to take others perspectives and stances into account. We can advocate for our beliefs and organizations without putting others down and maybe take a minute to put ourselves in their shoes and see a situation from their point of view. Sometimes it is good to even be open to new ways to approach a situation with ideas from others. It is good to get to know someone first before only seeing them as conflicting viewpoints they may hold. Just keep an open mind and respectfully share your viewpoints.

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    Kaylie McClintock

    Thinking about how representative Munson can have such in depth and meaningful conversations with those who have completely different beliefs from hers is truly inspiring. I think that in the end it is all about compromise. Being able to say you are a person and I can see that this is important to you even though your solution is way different than mine or maybe I don’t think there is even a problem, but being able to see that someone else does believe that it is very important and working with them to find a way to help everyone involved. I feel like being able to see the other perspective does not make you any less passionate about your stances, in fact it almost reinforces how much you care because you take time to gather all of the facts and make sure that you are right and can confidently stand up for what you believe. That is the kind of leader that I want to follow.

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    Marissa Bumgarner

    Representative Munson was very inspiring when she spoke of making an impact and reaching out to those in our communities. One main point that stuck out to me personally was “Door knocking will change the world”. Many people make judgments upon others who they do not know on a personal level. We as leaders today need to do better about getting to know the people around us and the ones we serve. If we step up in our communities and make connections with those around us, we will influence others in a positive way. Volunteering and being a part of organizations helps to lead your peers and stand up to the challenge.

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    Isabel Celedon

    Personally, I believe that as a leader it is our goal to always set aside differences. It is important for us to look beyond the activities and beliefs of others because it is our priority to bring people together for one common goal. Although it may be difficult to do so, we must continuously remind ourselves that their personal lives are not as important as what brings communities together. Representative Munson stated that leadership was ultimately working towards positive change and the empowerment of people when she began her presentation. With this definition, I think that all leaders have a common goal and nothing should stand in the way or prevent anyone from achieving it.

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    Lauren Clark

    After Cyndi Munson’s talk, I reflected on the way I connected with people in the past and how I want to make changes for the future to become a better leader. From Munson’s talk I learned that in order to understand other people better we must find a solution to the problem rather than automatically looking for a way to place blame. I believe that problem solving is one of the most important qualities in a strong leader. A strong leader must also have their own set of values that they live by as well. When faced with opposing beliefs instead of looking for differences I can instead look for commonalities. To inspire our communities about what we are passionate about I believe, like Munson stated, that we should be willing to do what we are asking others to do. Remaining true to your values, being a problem solver, and being personable are all qualities of a good leader and will help you lead your community about what you are passionate about.

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    Emma Martinez

    As people, it is sometimes hard to see beyond someone’s party, ideals, or affiliations because we prefer to stay around people to think similarly to us. However, as leaders, we have the responsibility of representing and treating everyone equally regardless of how different our minds are. We can manage this process by reminding ourselves that one of the best qualities a leader can have is maintaining an open mind. Be willing to listen to opinions different from ours. By keeping an open view of life we can continue to inspire and help others feel included in our community.

  • In our country’s divided political environment, it’s become hard to effectively communicate with those on the opposite side of our moral/political stance. I too am guilty of immediately shutting down those that I don’t agree with; however, I’ve realized that that only strengthens the wall between the two sides and makes progress harder. Just this realization alone doesn’t automatically make it easy to have those hard conversations with people you don’t agree with, though. On my first day of senior year, my AP Government teacher told my class that what you see depends on where you sit, a metaphor for the fact that everyone’s life experiences are different and differently affect how they view the world. She went on the tell us stories about her upbringing and how those experiences have led to the beliefs that she holds. Personally, I always try to remember this when having conversations with those I don’t agree with. I don’t know what they’ve been through that could’ve impacted their belief system, so it’s unfair of me to immediately dismiss them before I get the chance to learn more about them. Additionally, I try to remember how frustrating it feels whenever someone dismisses my ideas without bothering to listen to me, so I know not to make another person feel like that. Learning to compromise while not giving up on the ideas you’re passionate about is even more difficult than simply breaking down the wall between the two sides. There is no formula for this. Every conversation will take a different path and require more or less compromise than the last one. I think the important thing to remember as a leader is the promises you’ve made to your community. If you compromise on these, people will lose trust in you. At the end of the day, getting out of the divided world we’re in right now and back to a more understanding one will only work if we all put in effort and have more empathy for others.

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    Blair Majors

    For me personally, I have always had the mindset to be a caring and empathetic leader before I judged people in aspects that they may not be able to control or that I don’t agree with. Part of being a good leader is embodying the qualities of a good friend and person and without that, I personally don’t think someone can be a good leader. You can be passionate about a subject that others disagree with while still respecting them as a human being and acknowledging that they are also able to have their own opinions. I think we as leaders can manage this process by keeping an open mind with those who have different perspectives than us. Being a leader isn’t about being the most correct but instead of how well you respect your team and those around you.

  • The important part of being a leader is making connections and I think leading by example. If a leader hated everyone that didn’t get along with them, and their followers did the same, it would be a very hateful world. It is a hateful world. So to adequately lead by example we must first make connections, and care about people. Whether they agree with you or not, people will remember your kindness to them. We all have different backgrounds that influence our choices, and kindness maybe can’t change someone’s opinions but I think slowly it can make the world a kinder place, and I think that’s what should really matter as a leader. Change isn’t fast-paced, it’s typically slow, but if we start being kind now it can pay off down the road and set the example for future generations.

  • I believe that we manage this process by having empathy for others first and foremost as leaders. Cyndi said it best when she stated “when we lose the ability to empathize, that is when we turn more egotistical and narcissistic”. As leaders, it is important for us to remember that anything we set out to do is not for our personal gain but for the betterment of others. If we lead with the mindset of what can I do to help the community first, and then convey my message second, we are more likely to build trust within our community. Once you have built trust with others, then it is easier for them to listen to your opinions and have conversations about the areas that you are passionate about. When we connect with our community first, they are more likely to listen to our ideas because they see us as humans first and leaders second.

  • Cydni Munson talked a lot about how door knocking can change the world. She makes sure to go into the communities she’s representing and hears everybody’s point of view. As she mentioned that can be quite tasking at times but in the grand scheme of things it proves that you care. Especially with the way leadership has been represented in our world today. This “My way or the highway” mentality is getting us nowhere. As leaders we have to make sure we’re keeping our biases in check. Everyone has them and they can often cloud our judgment on others. Another point that Cydni made was “know who you’re leading.” We can’t just bark out commands and expect people to fall in line. They have voices and ideas too. We have delegate and work together toward a common goal. One last big point that she touched on is empathy. We have to be able to understand the people we’re talking to and take walk in their shoes. One thing that has always been important to me as a leader is the ability to listen. People are too wrapped up in their own agendas that they don’t pause and consider anything else. I once watched a video that said ” A good leader is the last person in the room to talk.” This has always resonated with me. These are very possible tasks to do it just takes practice and self reflection.

  • We as leaders of whatever we may be participating in can manage this process by just appearing and being approachable through transparency. I believe if you show transparency people will trust you and when people trust you they can see you as human. When people see you as another human they feel comfortable approaching you with anything they feel might need addressing. Another thing that comes with living transparently is your passions will show in your everyday life. In this sense you lead by example to the community around you. This leads people of common goals and beliefs to support you and follow because you have shown you can be trusted and being a leader is not just a face you put on but a part of who you are along with your passions.

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    Lily-Marie Fraley

    I liked that Representative Munson talked about how important empathy is. Being able to be respectful and listen to others displays leadership skills. The first time I saw two politicians being respectful was in 2020 when Chris Peterson, a democrat, and Spencer Cox, a republican, were against each other for govenor in Utah. They joined together and created a campaign, #StandTogether, to demonstrate they can be humans and be respectful even if they don’t have the same viewpoints. I think that their campain is a great example not just for politicans but for everyone. We don’t have to hate each other if we disagree with each other. While being empathetic, we don’t have to change ourselves to be respected. Staying authentic and true will make an impact.

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    Carsyn Cardwell

    Seeing people as a human before we see them as a stance is very important to be a good leader. We have to recognize people’s differences to bring people together. Representative Munson mentioned that connection and authenticity are predominant qualities to have as a leader to continue to inspire people in our community. It is not only key for leaders to see people as humans, but it is also necessary for the people to see leaders as humans. You cannot be a leader without followers, as Representative Munson mentioned, and people are attracted to authentic leaders. Authenticity as a leader is a way to create a connection with those in the community. The connection allows us to build bridges between our differences and work to find solutions rather than placing blame. It is much more productive to have conversations with people that think differently than you than to shut down all ideas that are not the same as yours. As leaders, we must consider all views before we act in the areas we are passionate about, not only for our interests but for the good of the community.

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    Adjoa Yeboah

    I genuinely enjoyed Cyndi Munson’s lessons that she gave in class. Coming from someone who is also a minority I related to a lot of the things she was saying. Whenever I was younger, I would often find myself holding back from certain positions because I hadn’t seen anyone who looked like me in that position before. As a leader, I realized that I should not be holding myself back, because that can be holding others back as well. It is definitely hard to step out of my comfort zone, but I also think it is very necessary especially if I consider myself a leader. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and I will always strive for it to come from me which in turn can impact those around me.

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    Chase Sutton

    I believe that one way to ensure that we are seeing everyone as humans before their personal viewpoints is to make a connection with them before you put a label on them. Often times in todays society it is easy to make quick judgments about people off of preconceived notions that you hear from other people. I am not too high and mighty to not admit that I have done these things as well, but I think that it is something that everyone could work on to make a better community for everyone. As a leader one of the most valuable attributes that you can have is to have an open mind. Putting ideas in your head about someone based off rumors and gossip is not a good way to great a sense of family that comes with being a leader.

  • This was my favorite speaker so far. I found representative Munson very inspiring and I admire her perseverance in her field as a minority. I think it can be difficult to see past another persons stance, especially when it is different from our own, but it is very important as leaders to take every team members input into consideration. One of the most important parts of being a leader is being able to listen and communicate with those you are leading. Dismissing someones entire opinion because you may disagree with them on certain matters in counterproductive. As leaders it is important to find a balance between compromise and rationality, and any good leader should be capable of that.

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    Olivia Sander

    Personally I believe representative Munson did an amazing job of teaching us on seeing a human for themselves first and not for what they stand for. Representative Munson said that in order to maintain good communication and connections we as leaders need to have more face to face conversations. If we have more face to face conversations then it would be easier to see someone as themself and not base your opinion off of the first thing you see online. Being able to meet someone first without having any prior knowledge eliminates the chance of having a bad first impression. Nowadays people will make snap judgements off of someone’s social media before actually meeting them in person. People often think that if someone does not have the same opinion as you then they are automatically your enemy. We as leaders need to show that we can be friends and work with people of all different backgrounds and we can start doing that by having simple face to face conversations. We then can inspire others in our same communities to do the same thing and start talking face to face.

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    Kathryn Irwin

    In my opinion we have a lot more in common than we do different in person life and and in policy .we are trying to do the best buy are constituents or followers. Most times though the ideologies get blurred in the middle and simple statements are used to distinguish who is prejudice and who is anti-that. When you dig down into the root of the problem sometimes you realize that you had similar beliefs the entire time, but there was a miscommunication or prejudice against one side or the other. we would never know that if we just kept to ourselves and never talked about difficult things. In order to talk about the difficult things you have to know more about the person you’re speaking to for them to open up and do you vulnerable ourselves. This you can lead them in a compassionate manner. Keeping in the front of our minds that we are all humans trying to do our best stumbling through life helps one realize that we’re all still confused on the inside.

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    Lillie Taylor

    By seeing one as human first rather than the “sides” they may take, we are able to see the things that are alike in our lives. We are able to connect over things that are similar first rather than dispute over things that would undoubtedly bring us apart. By connecting over things that are similar, leaders are able to identify ways that they can help even the people they disagree with. Then, by establishing that initial connection, a leader can move on to helping the other person through the things they don’t agree on. Since they found something similar between them, it is more likely that they will get along better when discussing the thing they disagree on. By starting with a good interaction, a leader is able to remain positive and optimistic about making a difference even when dealing with a topic that is bound for debate.

  • Seeing people for who they are on the inside is always hard to do. The best way to manage this is by showing and having empathy towards others. Representative Munson mentioned this as well. I think the first step in empathizing with others is to know who you are leading. This means we need to recognize the community we are serving and know what exactly their needs are. Once you do this, then only can you truly empathize with others by putting your feet in their shoes and understand their struggles. All this will help you to put aside differences and achieve a common goal.

  • I really like this question because I think this is what being a good leader is all about. I believe that not judging others before you’ve gotten the chance to know them is so important. Seeing people as human first is a huge part of kindness and love. A good leader is kind and knows how to set views a part from the person. I think you can still focus on your passions and your community while also maintaining the healthy boundary of setting views aside from the person.

  • A lot of people cannot adopt the mindset that Cyndi Munson has. Seeing an individual as a person first versus looking at their beliefs can be challenging. You cannot follow her example case-to-case. It must be your mindset. You should always see the person first. Everyone has times when they doubt their beliefs or makes a “wrong” decision; you must recognize it in others. In order to lead, you must know the people you are leading. Getting to know your community allows you to better understand what course of action to take. A lot of people don’t put passion behind their decisions. Knowing your “why” behind everything makes seeing a human being versus their beliefs would be much easier.

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    Norah Stephenson

    Seeing everyone as a person and not just the organization or idea they support, whether we support it or not can be very challenging. As leaders and just ordinary people who interact with others on a daily basis, it’s important to recognize that each person is dealing with something in their lives. We don’t know the person’s past or even what’s going on in their present. As leaders, we should have compassion for everyone and their situations whether they agree with us or not. I personally believe that the best leaders have humility and the courage to understand that because of our diverse experiences we aren’t all going to have the same views. It really is inspiring to see people who don’t agree, come together because in the end we are all alike. We are all people with struggles.

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    Jesse Brooks

    One of the first things that she talked about and one of the most important was the ability to be compassionate and empathetic to others. As a leader, we have to be compassionate to others’ viewpoints and realize that seeing things differently is a good thing and makes us human. We have to empathize with them and make sure that our followers see us as one of them. This allows for a connection to happen. Without a connection, we have no followers and cannot be a leader. This also allows leaders to stay in touch with their followers and keep seeing them as human beings, not just things that they are in charge of. This connection and sense of community is what inspires people and gets them passionate about things. That sense of we are in this together gets people to want to help more and become more involved in the process allowing for a better community.

  • We should absolutely see the human first before we see them as their political opinion or stance. In order to do this, face-to-face conversation is very critical. You need to learn their name. Knowing someone’s name makes you see them as human than their stance. Have conversations outside of politics really helps this as well. And after you have reached common ground, explain why you believe the way you do and give them the opportunity as well. A leader needs to be able to listen. You never know who you may inspire with that conversation.

  • It is very easy to be quick to judge. It’s especially easy when someone’s view points don’t align with our own. However, this tendency becomes harmful when we begin to see the opposing viewpoint first, rather than the human who holds them. This is why, as leaders, it is important to have open and effective communication. Representative Munson said it herself- face to face conversations are vital in seeing each other as human beings. We can hold our own values to be true while still hearing others out. There is a quote by Aristotle that I know that seems applicable to this prompt. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” This means that we can entertain other people’s viewpoints without accepting them as our own. As leaders, this skill is extremely important. By adopting this skill, we can effectively inspire and lead in our communities while making sure everyone feels heard.

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    Bergen Bailey

    In order for us to have the ability to lead and inspire people surrounding things we are passionate about, we have to include others. Inclusion is an important aspect of leadership and every great leader includes everyone. A big issue in our world today is judging and placing stereotypes on individuals who you have not met. For us to get past that issue, we must view everyone as a person and not as their beliefs. Everyone is a person, not an idea or stance.

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    Jacob McBride

    One of the things that Cyndi emphasized was bring your community together. This is so broad and can mean so many things, but what it means to me is making personal sacrifices to benefit the overall well-being of the community you are involved with. I think this is extremely important for our generation to carry out, and I believe we can do it with the way we stay motivated to achieve success but can empathize with any situation. Another thing that stood out to me was how much Cyndi stressed the behind the scenes work. This means that you can prove to the people you are leading that you are dedicated to actually putting the work in. Being a leader does not always mean being front and center, but what gets people through the day behind the scenes.

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    conner mclaughlin

    Seeing people as humans can be hard in today’s age. Many people have become so ingrained in the way THEY do things that they believe it is the only way to do or believe, which is a problem all leaders of today must navigate. For me, I first analyze why someone does or believes the things they do, and try to understand where they got this habit or belief from. Only when you understand where they are coming from can you understand who they are as a person. The key is trying to lead a diverse group of people who think, act and believe differently. The best way to lead by an example of understanding, reaching out, and creating a space where people can talk about their differences in order to figure out what they have in common. Understanding and maintaining this balance is the best way to lead people with different opinions, hobbies, and beliefs, because at the end of the day, thats who we lead: People.

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    jolie barton

    I think the most crucial thing for a leader to do is to accept others for who they are. The fact that they may hold diverse opinions shouldn’t matter; what should matter is that they are open-minded. Being open-minded allows you to pick up a few things from others who hold different opinions than you. Diversity never hurts anyone, and being similar would be boring. The most crucial thing is to be true to who you are, especially as a leader. If you can’t be loyal to yourself, you can’t be a leader. Always be yourself!

  • With Leadership, there can be many difficulties such as difference of opinions and different point of views. It can be quite challenging when the people you deal with don’t see eye to eye on a subject. For me, if I face those difficulties in the situation that I’m put in, I overcome those with opening my point of view. Sometimes we are so focused on ours being the right one that we often overlook others perspective. I always try to input the different point of views I see and broaden my perspective. It won’t be easy and at the end not everyone will like it, but I feel like that’s also they downside of being a leader; that not everyone will like what you have to say. But it is also our role to find that common ground between the two perspectives. As much as we want to be in the right, the only way to do that is by finding solutions for the problem.

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    Destiny Ryan

    I believe if you first view everyone as a person, then inspiring and leading within a community will come naturally. If the people being led feel like they are being treated like a person, then they may feel more connected to the leader and their cause. Although, it can be difficult at times to show everyone that you are treating them like people. So it is important to have direct communication with people and give resources to those being led so they feel their voices are heard. While it isn’t always possible to accommodate everyone, if you are honest about what priorities are being focused on and allow everyone to be fully informed, the connection is better created. And something Representative Munson said that really stuck with me is, “If you are leading a group of people, you not work alongside them, not from above them.” If leaders are on the same level as those they’re leading, I believe the community will be more united and passionate.

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    Brynn Coppedge

    Representative Munson spoke about the importance of engaging with everyone, including those who have different opinions and beliefs. Engaging with those who think differently than we do can be difficult. However, this is a very important task. As leaders, we can choose to see leading others who are different as a learning opportunity. We can also see it as an opportunity to grow and inspire our communities.

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    Kade Williams

    We inspire and lead communities we are passionate about by taking a clear stance and making large-scale attempts to make change. The entirety of change has to start from someone and someone needs to take the force of any backlash, managerial work, etc. that is necessary for a community to be successful in any capacity.

  • I think that the way we go about finding this balance of conviction for our positions while keeping in mind the humanity of others comes from truly understanding the position of others. This true understanding of the positions of others does not come from listening to other people talk about opposing positions, it comes from listening to those people with differing opinions. Representative Munson’s mention of going door to door in her community and having conversations showed me that she valued this form of conversation too and that was one of my favorite parts of what she had to share. This makes me remember how regularly people in our class have described leadership as “giving others a chance to speak, instead of speaking for others”, and I think what Mrs. Munson said personifies this principle. While we need to be understanding of where others come from, it is also important to have a backbone in regard to our own positions. Just like understanding the positions of others, I believe that this backbone comes from having a true understanding of why you believe what you do to the extent that you do. I hope that after hearing Rep. Munson speak, we can all take a moment to think about why we hold the positions we hold, and maybe just think about having a conversation with someone that we disagree with instead of demonizing them for their position.

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    Rylee Lindsay

    I think when it come to being a leader to different demographics of people, it is important to try to please the masses. Although, when you are leading, the leaders and the followers must find commonality somewhere. Leaders and followers, have to be working towards the same goals. In school or managerial leadership positions, I do not think that certain personal beliefs are important to be aligned between leaders and followers. As long as leaders and followers, have common respect and are both working towards achieving the goal in their organization, personal beliefs are not important. With all that being said, I think in a lot of situations, keeping focus on the common goal between leaders and followers and not focusing on personal beliefs will help achieve the purpose of the organization. Overall, it is important to keep personal opinions separate in these situations and leading the best way you can to serve your followers.

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    Lane Willoughby

    Personally, I think that one of the best parts about leading people is helping them find themselves. I also think that you should approach every situation with empathy first because you never know what someone is going through. With these two things being said, I think these are most important to seeing someone as a human first. This process is not easy for many people today but these two tools really help me. If you create a genuinely connection with someone first then they are more likely to hear you out about subjects you are passionate about and help in any way they can.

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    Lane Willoughby

    Personally, I think that one of the best parts about leading people is helping them find themselves. I also think that you should approach every situation with empathy first because you never know what someone is going through. With these two things being said, I think these are most important to seeing someone as a human first. This process is not easy for many people today but these two tools really help me. If you create a genuine connection with someone first then they are more likely to hear you out about subjects you are passionate about and help in any way they can.

  • I certainly agree with Representative Munson that seeing everyone as a human first is extremely important. As leaders, it is imperative that we understand that disagreements and even conflict are inevitable. However, the key thing we must remember in those times of disagreement is that our diversity, our differences in thinking, and our differences of opinion can be used to generate positive outcomes. Having an open mind to hearing all sides of an issue, even when we vigorously disagree, ultimately allows us to grow as leaders. It allows us to analyze issues from various perspectives, which can help us further grasp the meaning of and/or the logistics of a particular issue. As leaders, we must welcome freedom of expression – that we allow all sides of an issue to be placed on the table, and that we understand that when the overwhelming majority of those who speak up about an issue are passionate about it and even if their view is completely different than ours, that passion is still there and they are standing up for and advocating for what they truly believe to be the best solution/scenario. In terms of balancing allowing everyone to be heard and respected, as leaders, it is vital that we seek common ground (compromise) when possible. For instance, if we as leaders were funding a philanthropic cause and we faced some disagreements, such as how much money to give to the cause and which cause to give the money to, we could work together to best find a solution that gives mostly everyone some of what they want. For instance, if Person A wanted Children’s Hospital to be our philanthropic cause, but Person B wanted the American Heart Association to be our philanthropic cause, a compromise could be reached, such as splitting the money halfway between the two causes or by perhaps setting up another service project so that ultimately both organizations could be the philanthropic cause at one point or another. It is inevitable that, as leaders, we will face times when an effort to compromise falls short, so with that being said, it is also crucial that we stand our ground when needed. The key to standing our ground is to do so respectfully. This can be as simple as telling someone something along the lines of: “While I listened to and respect your opinion, I respectfully disagree and will continue to stand up for x, y, and z because I believe this is what is best for the (organization, cause, etc..).” Conclusively, what is fundamental to remember is that as human beings we are all equal; none of us are better than one another. We are all in the same boat; on this journey called life, and despite our different convictions, cultures, backgrounds, interests, and strengths, it is crucial to remember that we as leaders can and should choose to listen and let everyone be heard, find common ground when possible, and courteously yet firmly stand our ground and support our causes in the face of opposition.

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    Sheridan Robinson

    Empathy is a crucial factor when leading others because many find it difficult to follow and look up to an individual if they are disconnected and cold to them. Through connection, as Munson emphasized, those we lead might respect their leaders and follow their actions and directions. I find it sometimes challenging to connect with others with different viewpoints, however, Munson had various ways to engage and relate to those different to me. She found that through difficult conversations, she connected and understood those she led. Through asking what challenges others are facing as well, she was able to drive empathy into discussion. A powerful leader must understand the ambitious responsibility of connecting and leading every person, even those different, because without followers one is not a leader. When issues arise, leaders can inspire others through finding solutions rather than blaming others for the problem. Remembering those I speak to are humans and face everyday adversity, I can become a stronger leader.

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    Abby Harelson

    Aside from different personal opinions, political views, and other differences between people, as Cyndi said, seeing each other as humans first is most important. Everyone has the right to believe what they believe in, and they have their personal reasons and experiences to do so. As leaders, we must always treat everyone with respect; despite our personal opinions and disagreements. Leaders have to strive to inspire every individual of every belief. Being caring and passionate first will show others that we will always respect them as a person first, no matter what. At the end of the day, we are all made of flesh and bone, and deserve to be treated equal- with respect and love.

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    Tyler Gleason

    Agendas are inevitable. If they weren’t, we would not have differing opinions, beliefs, and diversity in the world we live in. The issue that arises with agendas is how we choose to present them. Forcefulness is not going to change the mind of many, and if it does, it is usually out of fear. On the other hand, kindness and transparency often has the opposite effect, and if it doesn’t change the mind of someone, it usually gains their trust and respect. I have found that taking the first step in respect is often the gateway to share what you have to say. Passion is healthy; it means we care. But the way we share our passion has to include an understanding that many may not be passionate about it.

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    Breanna Henry

    Representative Munson spoke very wisely on the importance of seeing and being open to all opinions and all types of people that differ from what you are used to. I think surrounding yourself with people different than yourself is what builds a strong leader, if everyone is exactly the same the same as you, thinks like you, acts like you, who are you leading? What impact are you truly making? How are you growing? And what if those who you want to be a leader to don’t agree with you? What sets a strong leader apart is the ability to see everyone on an even playing field, no matter the circumstance, and use the differences among those you are leading and even yourself to find your cause and make a difference.

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    Caroline Cowherd

    To lead anything, you must have a passion connecting you to that cause. Leaders use this to inspire those around them and further the success of their work. However, true leaders should never let those passions interfere with their compassion. As Cyndi Munson mentioned, this can be quite difficult to manage, especially when not met with the same respect. In spite of that, we must be able to separate the person from their involvements. It creates open conversations, and kills any judgement. The results of this simple action inspires others to lead with humility, and allows growth to take place.

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    Jackson Mckinney

    I feel that most people admire the ability to respectfully disagree with someone. Even when you have a difference of opinion with someone, it is important to treat them as you would want to be treated. At the end of the day, everyone is human, and I feel that part of being a good leader is getting to know someone before judging them on their stances or organizations. As leaders, the most important thing is to help lead in our communities and what we are passionate about, however, if we can manage to speak face to face with others that you normally would not talk to, then it can be very beneficial everyone involved. It is easy to feel negatively towards someone for being part of something you may dislike, however, if you dig deeper you often may find some common ground.

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    Benjamin Hastings

    I think leaders who look beyond surface value focus on the big picture. Representative Munson talked about serving the community before individual values, which is an intriguing concept that requires mature leadership skills to master. She also spoke about mastering communication between the majority and the minority. I think, when blended, these ideas enable leaders to lead their communities with the confidence that everyone has a voice and that they will do everything in their power to please as many people as possible rather than the individual. Also, I think leading in areas we are passionate about is riskier than leading in areas we aren’t. Our personal preferences can potentially influence decisions that benefit the minority rather than the majority. I understand that in politics, it’s usually proper to vote with your affiliated party, but what happens when personal beliefs contradict the party? It’s possible to lead this way, but getting reelected is complicated as your chosen demographic may not support you if you make a personal decision.

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    Elizabeth Estabrooks

    We as leaders can manage seeing people as humans first by keeping that in the forefront of our minds before we even engage in discussions. We can inspire and lead in our communities with this tactic by allowing people who may not agree or be passionate about the same areas as us to see us as humans first.

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