Holiday community leadership using cross-disciplinary skills

The holidays are a time when we often display positive actions and measures by utilizing these cross-disciplinary skills, both consciously and subconsciously.

This is a time of year when our day-to-day is often inundated by cheerful holiday music, colorful lights and friendly laughter amongst peers. It is also a time filled with many kinds of celebrations, traditions and festivities. According to Michigan State University Extension, it is also a time of gift giving and of charity, of boisterous game, and family meals. How, where and what you celebrate during this time of year is unique to you and your personal narrative. That being said, this is a time of year when, I believe, we all tend to exhibit a great capacity for community leadership.

When we think about leadership and engaging in our community some very specific examples or individuals may come to mind. You might think of the mayor of your town, the head of your faith-based organization or a particularly active teacher. Do you think of yourself?

The holiday season is a time when you are probably exhibiting cross-discipline leadership skills and behaviors without even recognizing it. “Cross-discipline” means that these particular skills aren’t specific to an individual lens, field or activity, but rather, are broadly applicable in a wide range of contexts. Here are some examples of such skills and behaviors MSU Extension suggest you utilize this time of year:

  • Active communications: Communication is two-fold. It is both our sharing of information (verbally or via writing) and listening to the information that others are sharing with us. During the holidays we send cards and notes updating our networks about our lives. We humor long phone calls from past acquaintances and sometimes try ourselves to reconnect with relationships that might have fallen to the wayside through the course of the year.
  • Conflict resolution: How many times do we gather with our extended families and end up feeling disgruntled or misunderstood? The holidays are a time when we generally put aside our differences for the greater good of our social engagements. We tend to more openly consider the perspectives of others during this time of year and more quickly find common ground.
  • Showing appreciation: Everyone has different ways they like to receive and give appreciation. This could be sending a thank you note or taking the time to meet for a hot cocoa. Some people might need gestures or gifts to be appreciated. No matter what way is best for the individuals in your life, this is a time of year when we tend to say “thank you” to those who have supported us throughout the year; a time when we take action to show those important to us that we think fondly of them.
  • Respect and empathy: “The Golden Rule” (also known as ethic reciprocity) is very often one of the first guidelines of society that we learn as children. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” It’s easy enough to remember; you could probably approach any random stranger and ask about the meaning of the golden rule to only receive a similar response. Even though we all know the golden rule and wish others to abide by it when interacting with us, often we can get caught up in or blinded by our own perspectives and forget to keep this at the forefront of our actions. The holidays are different. We are more inclined to give to charity during this time of year and often think of, and take action on meeting the needs of others in our community.

As you can see, most of these skills and behaviors are interconnected with one another. When you are actively communicating, you might be more in tuned to the best ways (and when) to show appreciation for those around you. When you show respect and compassion for one another it is easier to maturely find common ground when conflict arises. These are not things that live in silos and are separate from one another. Instead they are an interconnected web of skills you are born with, but could be more conscious about using in the future. For more information on leadership, visit the MSU Extension 4-H Leadership and Citizenship page.

Despite the holidays being a time when we always have a lot on our “to-do” lists, we often take the time to be leaders both consciously and subconsciously. We are tuned into the needs of those around us and seize opportunities to take actions of betterment in our communities. Random acts of kindness are more frequent and our connection to our human family is more prevalent. MSU Extension challenges you to take this time as an opportunity for a New Year’s resolution -- keep the “holiday spirit” alive throughout the year by using and exhibiting these cross-disciplinary leadership skills and behaviors every day.

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