Leadership Reflection

Throughout the semester, LDR 101 has motivated me to read broadly, think deeply and write deliberately. Reflecting on my essays and final project, I am grateful that they strengthened my ability to do research and to develop arguments.

This course gave me an opportunity to understand deeply about Atlanta and leadership qualities. By reading The March and March: Book One, I figured out similarities and differences among lots of leadership qualities, and realized what a great leader was. I learned a lot of Atlanta’s history on class, and knew many famous characters from Atlanta, such as Jr. Martin Luther King and Congressman John Lewis. I also realized the conflict between African American and whites. LDR 101 really interests me and helps me with gaining knowledge which I do not understand before.

With writing essays, I found it was a great way to polish my essay, revising grammar mistakes and using effective evidence with a solid organization. Professor Diedrick gave me lots of useful advice about my essays, and he taught me a lot, especially his serious and positive attitude towards every assignments. I am looking forward to accepting more challenges, and growing into a better thinker and writer in the future. To conclude, this course has an extremely important impact on me.

SWEET-SOUR-PORK-CHOP

I’m an international student, and this is my first year studying Agnes Scott College in U.S. I’m not used to American food sometimes, probably because Chinese food are mostly like cooking dishes, and the seasonings are quite different. I’d like to introduce my favorite dish, sweet-sour-pork-chop. Sweet-sour-pork-chop is one of the most famous and traditional dishes in China. It’s very easy to cook, and you can buy the ingredients in Asian super market.

 

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pork chop
  • A bit of white sugar
  • Salt
  • Chinese vinegar
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Soy sauce
  • Chinese onion

 

Directions (IT’S EASY!):sweet-sour-pork-chops-8

  1. Fresh and chopped pork-chop
  2. Clean in tap-water
  3. Deep-fry for a few minutes
  4. Get out the pork chop after they turn brown in oil
  5. Stir the pork-chop

 

Almost every family in China is able to cook this dish, and, of course, everyone loves sweet-sour-pork-chop, because it’s so DELICIOUS. In holidays, I always cook this dish with my mom, and invite my friends and relatives to share the food. It really reminds me of my hometown and families while looking at its picture.

 

The Importance of Empathy to A Great Leader

[Author’s Note: in my Leadership Seminar at Agnes Scott College, we read E. L. Doctorow’s The March and discussed different characters’ leadership qualities. I chose to write about General Sherman to analyze why he is a good leader but not a great leader.]

What makes a great leader? A leader ought to have the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively, bear responsibility for people and society, reflect on the consequences of his decisions, empathize with the people his decisions affect, and remain open-minded. In E. L. Doctorow’s novel The March, General William T. Sherman does have some great qualities: he is a strategic thinker, he has a strong sense of responsibility for his army and soldiers, and he reflects on himself and his actions after winning each campaign. These qualities make him a good leader. However, they are not enough to make him a great leader because he too often puts victory at any cost above concern for the people, including the recently freed slaves, that his actions affect. To me, this is why Sherman is a good but not a great leader.

General Sherman is a strategic thinker concerned for his army and his soldiers. His efficient and decisive orders lead to the successful March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah and finally help his troops and the Union win the whole war. He is also a thoughtful leader, as shown by the ways in which he reflects on the outcome of his campaign and the war. In Part One, after marching through Atlanta and on to Savannah, Sherman reflects on the measures he has taken:

. . . the Ogeechee and the Sound cleared of mines, secesh coastal guns dismounted. Slocum’s corps deployed from the Savannah River to the seven-mile post on the canal, Howard’s to the sea, Kilpatrick’s cavalry by the King’s Bridge and the roads leading north and west. Shops open, streets cleared, fire companies intact. All public buildings, abandoned plantations, etc., the property of the Federal government. He’d missed nothing. Then what was wrong? (116)

He tries to learn from every battle so that he can reduce the deaths of his soldiers. After the march is accomplished, and Sherman gathers with his fellow generals for the signing of the surrender, he thinks about “why is Grant so solemn today upon our great achievement, except he knows this unmeaning inhuman planet will need our warring imprint to give it value, and that our civil war, the devastating manufacture of the bones of our sons, is but a war after a war, a war before a war” (359). He further understands the adverse effects of the march, and considers his role as well as actions in this war. These deliberate thoughts make him thoughtful and a good leader.

General Sherman is concerned with his soldiers and is called “Uncle Billy” by them (80), but does he really care about them as individuals? When he considers the deaths of his men, he says, “as a general officer I consider the death of one of my soldiers, first and foremost, a numerical disadvantage, an entry in the liability column. That is all my description of it. It is a utilitarian idea of death—that I am reduced by one in my ability to fight a war” (89). Thus, he is not concerned about “people.” In fact, General Sherman’s sympathies for individuals, including individual soldiers, is limited; he pays more attention to victory in the war and his capacity to win the war, which shows his selfishness and indifference. A great leader will not just regard deaths as numbers, because he or she knows that lives are as significant as victory. A leader like General Sherman, who has great strategic talent but does not always care about individual lives risks losing the respect of others, especially those who follow him. Once they do not revere him, they might rebel his orders. As Doctorow writes, “respect, not affection, was what a commanding officer depended on—it was a surer thing and lasted longer, and through such ordeals of the march that affection might not survive” (76). These are Sherman’s thoughts, and his justifications for the way he treats his men, but I do not agree with him. It is true that he often shows sympathy for civilians, like Pearl, but in this case he is motivated mostly by grief at the death of his son. As a general commanding soldiers, Sherman shows a great sense of responsibility for the war effort, but his lack of sympathy for individual soldiers prevents him from being a great leader.

I have limited respect a relentless military leader who has little sympathy for civilians. For instance, Sherman does not care about the freed slaves. He thinks that he has discharged his duty as a general by freeing them and giving them land. He settles the issue of the fate of 18,000 slaves by signing the “Special Field Order No.15” (349). Yet just issuing an order is not enough for a great leader. As a leader, Sherman is supposed to care about slaves’ lives, even happiness, and give them overall support to survive in their changed circumstances. Instead, he regards freed slaves as burden for him. A great leader not only accomplishes the “task,” but is also considerate to everyone, including freed slaves. As for Southern people, General Sherman essentially abandons them all. Although “he doesn’t war against women and children,” he brings the calamity, hunger, battle and destruction to these innocent people in the South, and his men act disorderly and care for nobody (25). A great leader will approach a military campaign with a deliberate strategy, limit the death and damage as much as possible, and restrict his or her soldiers from inflicting wrack and ruin. Although he is strategic, he is not concerned about death and destruction, and he acquiesces in his soldier’s decisions to set fire to homes and property. Emily Thompson’s description, “this was not an army, it was an infestation,” shows the chaos and human suffering General Sherman’s army brings along in its wake (27).

Work Cited

Doctorow, E.L. The March: A Novel. New York: Random House, Inc., 2005. Print.

 

Discovering my own talents

Before beginning college, I took the StrengthsFinder survey to discover my top talents. I discovered that I am deliberative, a learner, and an achiever. I also found that I like to understand how historical and social contexts influence people, which helps explain why I am “restorative”: I like to relate to and help others. When I read the essay “‘Only Connect…’ The Goals of a Liberal Education” by the historian William Cronon in my leadership seminar, I discovered many connections between the ten qualities he associates with liberally educated people and my own strengths. When I listen to people, I pay attention to not only their words, but also the meaning behind the words. As Cronon points out, I can “follow an argument, track logical reasoning, detect illogic, hear the emotions that lie behind both the logic and the illogic, and ultimately empathize with the person who is feeling those emotions.” This is what I try to do when I listen to others. I also like to read different kinds of sources to better understand my world. I discovered why the earth revolves around the sun from science magazines; I felt and understood love and suffering by reading Wuthering Heights; I continue to learn about current affairs by reading newspapers.

Being restorative means that I am able to solve difficult puzzles—not only academic problems but also life problems. Since I am willing to know people who have different backgrounds and cultures, I can easily talk to almost everyone. When I talk with them, I can understand their stories and give them suggestions. Therefore my friends like to chat with me and ask me for help when they are in trouble. Cronon thinks talking with anyone and solving puzzles are important to liberally educated people, and I agree.

I also like to review the past and make decisions very deliberately. I think these two talents make me prudent and responsible in my college life and my community. As Cronon says, “liberally educated people understand that they belong to a community whose prosperity and well-being are crucial to their own, and they help that community flourish by making the success of others possible.” Truly, to help my community thrive, I should be aware of history, and look out for the welfare of other people.

I believe discovering my top five talents will help me adjust to college life and make the most of my time here.

Work Cited

Cronon, William. “ ‘Only Connect…’ The Goals of a Liberal Education.” The American Scholar, vol. 67, no. 4, 1998, pp. 73-80.

Rpt. by Cronon, www.williamcronon.net/writing/only_connect.html.