I think it is very important to identify how I work with others and understand the various ways others people work with one another. Acknowledging other learning styles is critical because not everyone thinks the same way and it is important to identify the learning styles of the people I am working with so that we can communicate more easily and be more efficient with the task at hand. Supervisors or other people in leadership roles should also be aware of their employees learning styles so they can work accordingly.
After taking the learning styles quiz from week 11 lecture notes, the test confirmed that I am a visual learner. This doesn’t surprise me because I’ve always thought of myself as a visual learner. However, being an engineer I would think a little part of me is a kinesthetic learner, depending on the subject. I like touching the material I am working with because I think this is how I learn most effectively. For example, when I am assembling a piece of equipment, I am definitely a visual learner because I like to read the instructions. However, in my leisure time I like playing sports and doing DIY projects. I think this kinesthetic side of me is the creative side that does not want to follow word-for-word instructions.
At 25 years old, I prefer reading instructions when I am assembling a piece of equipment, however I did not have this kind of attention span at a young age. The same applied for me while in grade school. I was interested in the topics we were learning about, but reading a few chapters in a text book was not the way I wanted to learn about them. This is why in addition to my coursework, my Mom took my brother and I to museums and other educational attractions that related to our current studies. This allowed my brother and me a more “hands on” experience than just flipping each page in a reading assignment. We were so much more interested and enthusiastic about touching old dinosaur bones than just reading about them. It made everything seem real and not just a virtual subject. I think this experience allowed me to understand at a young age that there are various learning styles. These days, I am quick to understand what types of learners my co-workers are so that we can bring out the best work in each other.
I become a leader through leading by example. I am very diligent, enthusiastic, easy to approach, and like to help everyone on a team. In one of my first leadership roles as the captain of my NCAA ice hockey team, I found it rather easy to motivate others and designate work (which included designating work to me as well). I never put myself on a pedestal and promised the team from the start that they are not working for me, I am working with them. This allowed two-way communication for completing tasks and also to resolve any issues. In addition to the business side of things, I also made certain “unattractive” tasks fun. For example, most of our games were in upstate New York in January, which required long bus trips with varying weather every weekend. To try to make the ride a little more enjoyable, I made “themed” bus trips that included an 80’s trip where everyone could wear the best (and worst) 80’s clothes and we could vote on the 80’s movies to bring on the trip. Another way I tried to make bus trips more enjoyable was deciding where we could stop along the way. As silly as this sounds, why stop at Denny’s when there is a Dave&Buster’s at the next exit? Or let’s see if we can break up the ride by using another school’s rink and getting on the ice for an hour. When we played SUNY-Cortland in Corning, NY, l organized a time for our team to check out the Corning Museum of Glass. Why? Because we we’re stuck there for 2 days in between games, so why not? All of these ideas took a lot of coordination and work with our team’s budget, but with fundraising during the off-season, this was possible, and made for a little more fun on the long bus trips. I think this really enhanced the team spirit because it wasn’t just “working hard”, we had fun and this really helped with the team bonding as well. This allowed me to gain a lot of respect from my teammates because they could see all of the effort I was putting in to make this happen.
One of the difficulties that I had in this position was the ability for me to listen to a situation fully without interrupting. Sometimes I found myself so eager to help and would blurt out suggestions before the person was finished explaining a situation. If I had just listened a little longer without interrupting, I would find out why that person could not use my suggestion. Fortunately, I found this out because I had an anonymous box that players could put comments/suggestions in throughout this season. This allowed me to recognize this weakness and improve on it. I welcome constructive criticism because it will only help me to become in the end. At the same time, it is important to note that I cannot please everyone. This is a lesson that unfortunately, many of us have to learn the hard way.
At a young age I was able to understand that there are various learning styles. In order to communicate with others, whether it was on the ice or at work, I had to recognize my teammates’ learning style and adjust the way I was communicating to work with them and become an effective leader.