Making Meaning of It All

Last Friday, Kirk's instructor invited a music business professional into the classroom. This is a classroom filled with 22 creatives, half of which just completed a digital arts bachelor's degree (meaning, they love graphic design, web design, animation, effects, motion graphics, and other such image-driven livelihoods).

For a master's-level class on executive leadership, what do you think happened, come Monday? The instructor threw out the question, "What did you guys think of the guest speaker last week?" To which one of the graphic arts guys said, "Honestly, it felt like a waste of time. The guy was in music; I'm in graphic arts. Plus, he didn't spend any time talking about leadership. I just didn't get anything out of it."

What followed was a high-energy, almost explosive conversation. Everyone had an opinion, and the instructor kept stoking the fire, drawing them out with incisive questions. Obviously, the main question is: if you're a leader, how do you ultimately respond to situations in which you, on the surface, see no redemptive value? In other words, how do you make meaning of it all?

Reportedly, there are at least 221 known definitions of the word leader. Just last week, Kirk told me that leaders are ultimately meaning-makers, interpreting events and fueling energy and attention toward a desirable outcome for a group. I find it interesting that today, this group of emerging leaders got to see this theory in action . . . and measure themselves accordingly.