Posted on April 7th, 2015 in Perspectives on Leadership by Jan Bilgen

This week one of our own interns in the Student Involvement Office decided to write a post. Hope Schmidt, who is the Community Service Intern, wrote about her spring break experience with Habitat for Humanity, and how it helped foster leadership skills.

“Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

This year, our Habitat for Humanity campus chapter (consisting of: 49 students, 3 advisors, and 1 bus driver) went to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 2015 spring break Collegiate Challenge.

Sure, I know what you’re thinking-staying up all night, sleeping in and laying on the beach all day sound like amazing aspects of spring break, but doesn’t building homes for those who need them sound much more rewarding than a golden tan?

We departed from UW-Whitewater at 7pm on 3/21 and arrived at Hayes-Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina by 3pm on 3/22.  On Monday, we spent the day enjoying the ocean and beach culture at Wrightsville Beach near Wilmington, N.C. Then, on Tuesday, we got put to work! For the next five days, we would collaborate with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, N.C., building and repairing homes.

You might be thinking…”How am I supposed to know how to use a power tool?’ or, “I have NO experience in construction,” but, I was thinking the same exact things! The amazing part about Habitat for Humanity is that you can come onto a work site with no experience and you are immediately put to work regardless (safely, of course!). All of the staff and other returning volunteers were very friendly and accommodating for those who needed the assistance.

Besides donating your time and energy to something bigger than you, you have the opportunity to build upon leadership skills! The time spent working with others and collaborating with other Habitat for Humanity chapters is all valuable and provides you with skills needed to succeed in becoming a stronger leader.

If you are interested in learning about what it takes to build a home from the foundation up, making new friendships, and traveling for spring break, I HIGHLY recommend becoming a part of Habitat for Humanity and participating in their 2016 collegiate challenge spring break! Who knows, you may find your knew favorite passion is construction!

What Type of Leader Are You?

Posted on March 3rd, 2015 in Perspectives on Leadership by Jan Bilgen


It is important to know your leadership style so you can be an effective leader.  There are a multitude of different styles, but here are a few important ones that I retrieved from Chron.com:


A laissez-faire leader lacks direct supervision of employees and fails to provide regular feedback to those under his supervision. Highly experienced and trained employees requiring little supervision fall under the laissez-faire leadership style. However, not all employees possess those characteristics. This leadership style hinders the production of employees needing supervision. The laissez-faire style produces no leadership or supervision efforts from managers, which can lead to poor production, lack of control and increasing costs.


The autocratic leadership style allows managers to make decisions alone without the input of others. Managers possess total authority and impose their will on employees. No one challenges the decisions of autocratic leaders. Countries such as Cuba and North Korea operate under the autocratic leadership style. This leadership style benefits employees who require close supervision. Creative employees who thrive in group functions detest this leadership style.


Often called the democratic leadership style, participative leadership values the input of team members and peers, but the responsibility of making the final decision rests with the participative leader. Participative leadership boosts employee morale because employees make contributions to the decision-making process. It causes them to feel as if their opinions matter. When a company needs to make changes within the organization, the participative leadership style helps employees accept changes easily because they play a role in the process. This style meets challenges when companies need to make a decision in a short period.


Managers using the transactional leadership style receive certain tasks to perform and provide rewards or punishments to team members based on performance results. Managers and team members set predetermined goals together, and employees agree to follow the direction and leadership of the manager to accomplish those goals. The manager possesses power to review results and train or correct employees when team members fail to meet goals. Employees receive rewards, such as bonuses, when they accomplish goals.


The transformational leadership style depends on high levels of communication from management to meet goals. Leaders motivate employees and enhance productivity and efficiency through communication and high visibility. This style of leadership requires the involvement of management to meet goals. Leaders focus on the big picture within an organization and delegate smaller tasks to the team to accomplish goals.

If you do not know what type of leader you are, there are many different quizzes online that will be able to help you. Here are a couple:



Here is the website link if you are interested in more information:



30 Overlooked Acts of Leadership

Posted on February 17th, 2015 in Perspectives on Leadership by Jan Bilgen

When thinking about leaders, there are some pronouns that come to people minds; some being proud, courageous, strong, and exemplary, but what about those people who do not always show these characteristics?  An article that I found identifies other leadership qualities that are often disregarded.

30 Overlooked Acts of Leadership Courage:

  1. Speak up when you know you’ll be judged harshly.
  2. Shut up and let others have their say even if you think you are right.
  3. Give critical feedback to someone in power when you know it might have unfavorable consequences.
  4. Receive critical feedback from others with grace.
  5. Develop others without fear even when you know they may become smarter than you are.
  6. Be kind to those who disagree with you, because they might teach you something.
  7. Coach and mentor others even if it’s not part of your job description.
  8. Say no when everyone else is saying yes.
  9. Say yes when everyone else is saying no.
  10. Accept responsibility for the shameful or embarrassing things you’ve done.
  11. Take the high road when you know how difficult it can be.
  12. Walk away when the fight isn’t worth it.
  13. Stay and fight for the greater good when everyone else is running away from it.
  14. Reflect deeply when you really just want to take action.
  15. Love your followers even when you’re unhappy with them.
  16. Forgive others’ failures when you know they’ve learned an important lesson.
  17. Give others credit even when you’d like to take it for yourself.
  18. Keep going when the going gets really, really tough.
  19. Connect with your heart when your head wants to rule.
  20. Connect with your head when your emotions are threatening to take over.
  21. Ask “what’s right” when you prefer to be critical.
  22. Be curious when you’d rather be judgmental.
  23. Step out of your comfort zone when you hate stepping out or being uncomfortable.
  24. Listen to others deeply, without giving advice.
  25. Ask when you really want to tell.
  26. Do things a different way even though it’s “always been done this way”.
  27. See the potential in others when everyone else sees what’s wrong with them.
  28. Admit your failings when you think you’re supposed to be perfect.
  29. Control your impulses and desires when the temptation is greatest.
  30. Reduce suffering because you can.

I hope after reading this blog you can describe yourself as a leader. If not, stop by the Student Involvement Office where we can make that happen!



Spring Involvement Fair

Posted on February 10th, 2015 in Perspectives on Leadership by Jan Bilgen

Here is a message from Brendon Mendoza, who is one of the Involvement Interns in the Student Involvement Office,

Hey everyone!

Thinking about getting involved in some way this semester? There is an involvement fair this Wednesday 11-4pm in the Hamilton Room.  It is never too late to get involved!  You can join an organization or club anytime, no matter if you’re a first year student or senior, there’s always an opportunity to get involved on campus!

I was a late bloomer who didn’t really get involved on campus until I was a junior.  As I got involved on campus, I started to regret not getting involved earlier. The best advice I have for anyone interested in any organization or club is to just give a try, because you never know how much fun you will have and the amount of friends you can make. I always thought that you had to be freshman to get involved with an organization, but that definitely is not the case!

Many organizations and clubs host unique events that you might not experience otherwise. When I was a part of the Men’s Rugby Club we would travel across the country compete against other teams.  If I never joined the team I wouldn’t had the opportunity to travel and experience new areas. You never know where you might get to travel with an org or who you might meet by trying new things. I have met so many people through being involved with organizations on campus. If you like meeting new people and making friends joining an org is a great way to do that!

Check out the involvement fair or an organization on JOIN! , you have nothing to lose!


Who’s the Leader of the Club

Posted on November 18th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

Hello Leaders!

Most people who have read this blog in the past know that I am a huge Disney fan (as I have written about it before).  Today just so happens to be the anniversary of the release of “Steamboat Willie” (the first distributed Mickey Mouse cartoon).  Although “Steamboat Willie” was not the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be created, today is often treated as the official birthday of Mickey Mouse (he’s 85 years old today).  So I thought today would be a good opportunity to take a look at some leadership lessons we could learn from Mickey Mouse.

Be Kind

Mickey Mouse has taken many different characteristics over the last 85 years.  During some times in history he has been more mischievous than during other times where he has been more of an average guy just trying to get by.  While in some Mickey Mouse cartoons he can be kind of mean (The Band Concert), Mickey has typically always been a kind friend to those around him.  Because of his kindness, his friends have always been willing to follow him and help him out in any way.  Goofy and Donald (despite Donald’s frequent outbursts about Mickey’s fame) have always remained loyal friends to Mickey.  This is a characteristic that is extremely important for any leader, because if nobody likes you, then no one will follow you.

Be Curious

Mickey has always been a curious character (Thru the Mirror), always trying to seek out adventure or something beyond anyone’s imagination (a frequent theme of the Disney brand).  But curiosity is something more than just that.  Curiosity is the way that we all learn new things and continue to grow as people.  If we aren’t curious, we will never grow and have new experiences.  Sometime’s Mickey’s curiosity gets him into trouble, but ultimately it’s what makes him an interesting character that we can relate to.

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

A lot of the time when we think about leadership we strive for perfection, but we are all going to make mistakes and that’s okay (The Barn Dance).  Mistakes keep us humble, vulnerable, and human (unless you’re Mickey, in which case you would be a mouse).  Being humble, vulnerable, and human are extremely important to leadership.  It is what keeps us grounded and keeps the people around us willing to continue to follow.  Despite popular belief, people do not want larger than life leaders.  These people are often fake and superficial and are not the best leaders we could get.  People who make mistakes are more real and we are able to relate with them better, which makes us more willing to follow.  In addition to this, not every ending is happy (See ‘The Barn Dance’).  This is also okay.  We will fail, but as you have probably heard, our failures are what eventually lead to our successes.  You learn from your failures and aim to do better the next time.

Be Yourself, Have Fun, and Be a Friend

Lastly, all anyone wants you to be is yourself.  Acting like someone else is not going to help get anyone to follow you, being a real person will bring other people to you.  Have fun, even if you make mistakes, enjoying yourself is extremely important.  If you don’t enjoy what you do, how could you expect anyone else to enjoy doing it either.  Even through tough times, it is important to always be a friend to those around you.  Friendship is extremely important in leadership and in life.


There are probably tons of more leadership lessons we could learn from Mickey Mouse (or any other Disney character for that matter), but I think that these are really the key ones to take away.  Happy 85th Birthday, Mickey.


Until Next Time,


“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Believe in yourselves, dream, try, do good

Posted on November 6th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

Hello Leaders,

Did you know that the complete series of Boy Meets World just came out on DVD yesterday?!?!?!  Are you stoked?

For anyone who has never seen Boy Meets World, first off shame on you.  Boy Meets World was a hugely popular television series in the ’90s that went on for about 7 seasons that followed the main character, Cory, through middle and high school.  You probably should go watch it.  Cory’s teacher, Mr. Feeny, always managed to become Cory’s teacher throughout his entire academic career, and was typically irritated with Cory’s antics.  However, Mr. Feeny’s wisdom is definitely worth noting and highlighting some of his great lessons that he taught throughout the course of the show.

There is an awesome BuzzFeed article called “The 13 Most Important Life Lessons Learned From Mr. Feeny on “Boy Meets World” that you should really check out.

The two bits on here that I would like to highlight are the following

1. “See, it’s not enough to leave schools and just desire to succeed in this cold, cruel world.  because then you’ve simply become a part of it.  You must also have the desire to change it.  And to change it, you’ll need your fine mind, and his good heart.”

Here Mr. Feeny is saying that success after leaving school is not just about getting a job and making a living, it is also about changing things and making a difference.  All to often I hear from college students that their goal is to get a job for the time that they graduate and then their life will be complete.  However, money is not everything and to truly be fulfilled you need to do things that make you happy, you need to inspire change and make a difference.

2. “Believe in yourselves, dream, try.  Do good.”

This quote is from the last episode of Boy Meets World when the main characters visit Mr. Feeny’s classroom one last time after they graduate from High School asking for one last lesson.  This moment was one of only a few moments of complete compassion from Mr. Feeny throughout the series.  In this one statement Mr. Feeny sums up all of the lessons of the show.  There is a funny moment (at least to me) where Cory’s girlfriend Topenga says “Don’t you mean well?”  To which Feeny responds, that he indeed means to say “Do good.”  As “That Guy that Corrects People When They Say Good vs. Well”, I think this statement is actually very profound.  Mr. Feeny is giving them a call to action to go out into the world and make a difference.  Do good things, help people, and inspire change.

Until Next Time, Believe in yourselves, dream, try. Do good. (and watch Boy Meets World)



Answering Leadership’s Call

Posted on October 30th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

Hello Leaders,

As a President of a Fraternity here at UW-Whitewater, there are several websites/blogs that I read to try to constantly find tips to make my organization better than it was before. One of those websites is Fraternal Thoughts. They had a great post over there a couple of years ago called “Answering the Call” (which you should really read before reading the rest of this post!) Keep in mind that “Fraternal Thoughts” is written for Greek organizations and has a couple of references to Fraternity and Sorority activities.

The post simulates a dialogue between Leadership and a person answering a phone call from Leadership. There are a couple of parts in the conversation that I would like to highlight.

Pretty early in their conversation “Doug” asks “Why are you calling?” To which Leadership responds, “It’s time.” This is a realization that we all need to come to. Our time to lead has come and it is time for us to answer the call. “Why did you answer this time?” “It felt different.” For those of us that have been followers for some time, the call to lead is often uncomfortable or seems unfamiliar… But it is important that we answer that call.

At one point in the conversation, they talk about another member of the chapter that has been battling a drug addiction, but “Doug” decided to talk about sports. Part of leadership is being willing to make the uncomfortable step towards helping people. If there is someone in your life that you are concerned about and need your help, help them. That’s part of leadership. Doug says “I was scared to say anything.” to which Leadership responded “That seems to be a recurring problem.”

My favorite part of this conversation is towards the middle when “Doug” asks “But why me?”

“Why not you?”

So often we make leadership look like it is some sort of super power, that it is somehow beyond us as humans.  It’s NOT. It’s time that we finally answer Leadership’s call and realize that we can’t wait for someone else to be the leader.  Our organizations, our friends, our family, and our world need us to answer Leadership’s call.

“You’ll figure it out.  The hard part is over.” – Leadership

“What’s that?” – Doug

“I called.  And finally, you answered.”


Until Next Time,


The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

Posted on October 21st, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership,Tips and Secrets by John Jensen

Hello Leaders,

I would like to direct you all to a post from Forbes from back in February. It is pretty interesting and I think we all could learn a lot about certain things to make good habits out of when it comes to leadership.

Click Here to read!


A Crisis of Leadership?

Posted on October 10th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

Hello Leaders,

I came into the office this morning (by the way you should like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uww.involvement), and did my normal routine for a Thursday. I sat down, at my lunch, grabbed my computer, and started perusing the internet looking for different perspectives and theories on leadership. I came across an article from Forbes called “A Crisis of Leadership” that was published today and it made me ponder the question “why do we talk about leadership?” I mean, we don’t talk about many other qualities of people, at least not at the intensity that we talk about leadership. Do we talk about leadership so much because we are striving for real leaders?

The article says that it is time for a leadership movement – focused on engagement, open dialogue, and candid discourse above all of the focus on personal gain. The writer’s main criticism of our world leaders is that they are so focused on getting an ego boost, always being right, and maintaining any level of power rather than doing what’s right. The author says that the main problem is that we have forgotten what leadership looks like.

Take a look at this article, comment on this blog post and tell me what you think! I think that this is plausible, I think that we are striving for more leaders, and in our world we are looking for REAL leaders.

Maybe that leader is you?

Until Next Time,
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

Everyday Leadership

Posted on October 9th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership,Uncategorized by John Jensen

Hello Leaders,

Anyone that knows me knows that I spend an unusual amount of time browsing the internet, most of this time is spent on YouTube. One of my favorite YouTube channels is the TED channel. For those of you unfamiliar with TED, TED is a channel filled with hundreds of speakers with topics ranging from leadership to science. I have posted numerous TED videos in the past on this blog.

Today I found a video titled “Everyday Leadership can be Achieved by You” (which you can watch below). In this video, the speaker tells a story about how a young woman came up to him on one of his last days of college and told him a story about how he had been one of the most important people in his life. Yet, he had never actually met this woman. To hear the story you will have to watch the video (it’s only a little over 6 minutes).

There are a couple of points in this video that I want to highlight. The speaker asks everyone in the audience if they have had an experience where someone made an impact in their lives that made it better or more meaningful. He then asks how many of them had thanked that person for doing so. Not very many people raised their hand for the second question. It is so important that we thank those that make a positive impact in our lives. “We celebrate birthdays where all you have to do is not die for 365 days. And yet we let people who have made our lives better walk around without knowing it.”

He brings up a quote from Marianne Williamson “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” This is such a profound perspective of leadership. All too often we stop ourselves from being leaders because we think it is something beyond us. We have decided that leadership is about changing the entire world.

Which brings me to his last point. The speaker says that there is no world, only 6 billion understandings of it. If you change one persons understanding of it, or one persons understanding of how powerful of an agent of change they can be in the world, then we can change everything and redefine leadership.

I definitely recommend that you take a look at this video and think about if you have been creating enough “lollipop moments”.

Until Next Time,
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

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