Union University’s Student Leadership and Engagement held Dine and Discuss, an intentional conversation about leadership conducted by a couple of Union faculty members, last Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. in Coburn 1.
Bo Mantooth, director for student leadership and engagement, led the discussion on becoming a good follower before becoming a great leader. He began by showing a brief video that displayed the impact that a “first follower” has on a movement (click HERE to watch the full video).
At the conclusion of the video, Mantooth explained that great leaders have to be easy to follow and have to be able to embrace their followers as equals.
“I think this something that we struggle with as young leaders, is considering that you have to lead as a group,” Mantooth said. “So if an organizational leader sets themselves apart from everybody else, how is that organization going to operate?”
This question began to be discussed among the group. Everyone agreed that if this happened, the organization and the leader would fail. However, Jenn Smith, associate director for student leadership and engagement, piped in with another opinion.
“If you’re just out leading with nobody following you, then you’re just out taking a walk,” Smith said.
The discussion then became about when it is important and appropriate to follow or to lead. Mantooth spoke upon the importance of leading by intentionally following. He explained that a movement can’t be made unless someone has the courage to follow.
To put this into context, Mantooth explained how the idea behind this Dine and Discuss would not have taken off if Smith, who originated the idea, had not been an individual that was easy to follow.
Smith, upon opening the discussion, described her intentions for creating this event. She explained that this is something she’s wanted to put together for a while and hopes to see it become a monthly event that features discussions led by other faculty and staff from Union.
“I see around campus that leadership development is happening in pockets, which is really great and awesome,” Smith said. “But I love the idea that anyone that is involved in anything, or maybe not involved in anything at all, can come and learn about leadership and be developed and grown.”