Learning What Makes a Leader

For Christian Mote's Intro to Leadership presentation, he shared about his Zoom interview with one of his heroes, Brandon Bielak, ace pitcher for the Houston Astros. A huge fan, Christian '22 invited the all-star New Jersey native to share his thoughts about what it takes to be a great leader.

When Christian asked Mr. Bielak which teammate he looks to for guidance and direction, he immediately named Astros shortstop Carlos Carara.

Here's what the MLB player told Christian: "Carlos leads by example. He's always first to ballpark. If you're showing up early, it means that you care, that you're putting it first, and that you're ready to work. If you're doing the right thing, your followers will do the right thing. He's also good to rookies."

The take-aways Christian gleaned from their talk is that a stellar leader lends a helping hand, has a good attitude, and a strong work ethic. This conversation, as well as the course, was an absolute home run for Christian. It helped him crystalize how to be a better person and teammate. Realizations like this are what Dean of Student Life David Pasquale hoped to achieve by teaching this new class. Throughout the semester, Mr. Pasquale used video clips, organizational cultures, and students' shared journal entries to prompt class discussions about what it takes to motivate others.

"Being an effective leader requires the ability to balance confidence and humility – you have to be humble and know you will make mistakes," Mr. Pasquale told his class in the semester's final session. "Effective leadership is also about taking care of each other, taking care of the people you lead. There is too much in this world of everyone trying to outdo each other. You will have a chance to be a good leader if you lead ethically and collaboratively. So much of it is servant based. Find a way to take care of each other, so we all thrive."

For Adam Berrocal's interview, the advice that Navy Commander Franz Braun gave involved engagement. "If you want people to listen, leave your office and visit them," Adam '21 related. "Show your face, let them know who is in charge." Adam reported that Commander Braun employed successful attributes, including an ability to solve problems, create action plans, and always look for solutions. Disappointment was also a part of Commander Braun's story, as he aspired to become a Navy aviator and narrowly missed achieving his goal. "He had to admit failure, and it taught him to be humble," said Adam. "It's not about getting knocked down but picking yourself back up."

Next, Phoebe Kirsh '22 talked about her role model, Sam Fearse, the coach of her club softball team. Phoebe related how her coach's outgoing nature drew her in and made her feel welcome. "Sam always says hi, and makes me laugh," Phoebe said. "She helps me be my best me." Phoebe related that Sam learned to be a good leader during a tournament, when she was relegated to coach first base instead of pitch, due to an injury. This is how Sam learned to cheer on her teammates and push them when necessary.

This message resonated for Christian. Since taking Intro to Leadership, he is more mindful of helping others. "At ice hockey practice, I make sure to see if my teammates need help," he said. "That's how to become better person. In the world today, there's not enough of that. At our first ice hockey practice, there was a new player. I made sure to get to know him better in school, so on the ice there's more chemistry, and it helps our team succeed."

Logan Mote '22 agreed with his twin. "I play hockey and baseball, and as an upperclassman, I'm going to use what I learned in class to create a good culture so younger kids can succeed."

Sounds like a win.

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