This episode was a lot of fun. I had the chance to speak with the 2022 CLC champs from Johnson Country Community College (JCCC). I talked to JCCC's coaches Cassie Fulk and Carson Couch, and several team members - Yassin, James, Rick, Mila, and Kristin! We talked about their experience, some key learnings, and their thoughts on teaming.
What is the CLC?
Collegiate Leadership Competition (CLC), a nonprofit founded in 2015, creates a practice field where students can actively apply what they learn. We believe that leadership can be learned. With practice, our participants develop knowledge, build skill, and learn with other like-minded teammates who are passionate about leadership.
CLC’s curriculum explores the attributes of effective leaders, leadership/followership styles, creative problem solving, influencing others, navigating difficult conversations, conflict resolution, ethical decision making, stressors, and effective teaming.
Colleges and universities identify a coach and recruit teams of six students. Any student interested in practicing leadership is welcome. Each team member leads one challenge at the competition and receives extensive feedback based on their performance.
Academic Journal Articles about the Collegiate Leadership Competition
Other Phronesis Episodes About the Collegiate Leadership Competition.
About The International Leadership Association (ILA)
Connect with Scott Allen
Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate
Scott Allen 0:00
Okay, everybody, welcome to the Phronesis Podcast: Practical Wisdom for Leaders. Today I have the intergalactic champions, I don't think there are any other leadership champions out there in the galaxy as of now. So we have the intergalactic champions, we could say they're the champions of the solar system, we can say they're the champions of Earth. North America for sure. We have our team, the collegiate leadership competition team from Johnson County Community College, and they were the champions this year, I think we had 33+ teams engaged in this online competition. We had some challenges on the first evening of the competition, but we regrouped and got back together on Saturday. And this is the team that really knocked it out of the park. In fact, I think you won by, you know, given the point total a sizable margin. You all did awesome. So thank you so much all of you for being here. Everyone, you're going to have an opportunity to kind of meet everyone throughout the course of the episode, where I would love to start our time today with our two coaches, we have Cassie and Carson. And now Cassie, you've been involved in the CLC for gosh, it must be around four years now. So talk a little bit about putting together this championship team. Did you have them? Was it like a rocky montage? Were they carrying large logs up mountainsides in Russia? Or were they? I don't know. Were they running on the beach as they prepared? Cassie, how did this work to develop the championship team?
Cassie (Coach) 1:31
I mean, metaphorically speaking pretty much what you know, but really, I mean, Scott, you know, last year's team, Mila served on our team last year, and we had it we had a team that had really great intentions, but we had a lot to learn coming out of the competition. Last year, I really was looking at the stats from last year, we got dead last year in the competition. So we really I mean, zero to hero, this competition. But there was a lot of practice, and I gotta share here. But really, I just want to thank Carson Carson put in a ton of work this semester working with the team preparing for practices, and just supporting them and encouraging them. I know that there are a few new things that we have going on. So I had a lot on my plate. And so I just want to definitely shout out Carson and hit all the work that he put in. But one thing too with the team was we didn't have the full training practices that the training book outlines. And so we had like a one-hour meeting every week. And they made the most of it. And they really dedicated their time even outside of practices. So yes, I mean, maybe in their own time, they were running up hills with logs, and you know, drinking raw eggs and what have you, but I just really they put in a lot of work both in and outside of practice.
Scott Allen 2:52
Awesome. Well, Carson, tell us a little bit about how you approached the practices on a weekly basis. I'm excited to hear that, sir.
Carson (Coach) 3:00
What we kind of did was this was Cassie's idea, but at the start, we asked everybody as one how we want to approach it, and how we wanted to go forward with this. And they came to a consensus that they want to, you know, study certain terms each week, you know, maybe do two terms each week, three the next, and really hammer him down so that they have them memorized for the competition. And then during those weekly practices, we went through the curriculum and some of the guides that were you know, in that weekly practice handout, and we tried to Well, I tried to pull the material and get the best, most worthwhile substance from it. So that we're not there. We're only there for an hour and so that we're not there just like you know, fiddling around for you know, an hour.
Scott Allen 3:50
Exactly. How did you build a team? Kristen, I'd love to hear from you for a moment. She is on her way back to Germany this summer. But Kristin, would you please talk a little bit about how you will build a sense of team? How did you approach that work?
Most of our team consists of Student Life ambassadors, and then the rest, we actually already kind of met in the leadership program itself. So last semester, most of us were in the leadership program, just going through the curriculum and learning the terms thoroughly without preparing for competition. And then this year, we all just came in together because we still need each other from last semester. And that's why we have such a good dynamic.
Scott Allen 4:32
Okay, some of those relationships have been building for a period of time before we actually got to the practice season, which is awesome. And Cassie, jump in. What do you think?
Cassie (Coach) 4:42
Yeah, so what Christian shared with our program is that usually the first semester we have students come in and we use the CLC curriculum as a leadership program. It's a co-curricular program, and we have 10 weeks that we go through all the curriculum, and then they have that opportunity and Spring, to then really put it into practice and helps us out as well, too, because you know, you've seen Hannah, Kristen Carson, they went through the program last semester. And so to come and dive back into the curriculum this semester, they're a little familiar with it. And they've seen a little bit of the past competitions that they've been able to test out.
Scott Allen 5:19
Great. So Yassin, talk a little bit about how this learning experience is different from some others that you've been involved in? Talk about what stands out for you, sir.
So I guess what stands out for me the most is that everybody that was doing it was really committed to it. It wasn't like any of the team members were just doing it for a grade, or because they were getting extra credit. It was everybody who wanted to be there. And you know, doing group projects in class, there's usually a variance of like, who's really dedicated to this. But I would say everybody in our group was totally dedicated to the mission, which was to win. So it was a great team.
Scott Allen 5:57
Well, and so James, what I would love to hear from you, as you think about this experience, what makes this learning experience different for you from some of the other learning experiences that you've had?
Well, for me, personally, I'm, I'm actually a nontraditional student. So yeah, I've been out in the workforce I've been in leadership positions before. So I've kind of picked up some of those skills already, in sort of taking that, that skill set that I've learned, and then joining into the team, as they were before, because I was actually kind of a late arrival to the team. Okay. They had all been through the kind of leadership program before they picked up somebody's skills. And I remember the first like, not even like the first or second meeting when I joined in, I'm like, these people are a well-oiled machine already. Like, why am I here? Why do they need me, but I realized, I still have so much to learn about leadership, you know, you can never learn too much. And that's just been, you know, one of the best parts about being on this team.
Scott Allen 6:56
Well, you know, did your comment there resonate very strongly with me, I had Chip Souba, MD on the podcast, and He is the former dean of the College of Medicine at Ohio State University, and then at Dartmouth University. And he said, Look, you know, this work is a mountain with no top that I think for every one of us, I was working with some senior leaders at a bank today. And those individuals are learning, they're growing, they're developing this, this, this growth never ends, especially if we're doing it right. We're in this constant state of learning. And so I love that you jumped in there and got involved that probably sounds like they were speaking a little bit of a different language at the beginning. Am I correct? A little bit.
Yeah, like, a lot of the same things that I hadn't picked up on, but explained in a better way, in a different way. And that leadership provides the opportunity to bring your own unique take on it. And so it was, it was awesome to sort of seeing everybody's unique take on this team.
Scott Allen 7:55
Isn't that so much fun? I absolutely love working on a really high-functioning team that brings their perspectives to the table. And I love those moments where I'm thinking about something in one way. And then someone makes a comment. And it's just this beautifully elegant solution. Or it's another take on how I was thinking about something. And I just love that feeling. I've never been able to really name that feeling we shouldn't we should come up with something to call that. But Yassin, you're raising your hand if you felt that as well.
Yeah, I wanted to kind of piggyback off what James said, I feel like it's an art as much as a science. And so even though we all have the same leadership terms taught to us, we all have our own different styles of leadership, even within the styles that are outlined in the course.
Scott Allen 8:42
Yeah, and Mila, if you would tell us a little bit about what you learned about yourself through the process and what you still need to work on. As you think about this whole topic of leadership.
I was on the team last year, so it kind of helped. I haven't gone to the cap leadership program. I've only done the competitions. There was a learning curve last year. And then this year was a bit easier with knowing some more of the terms and how to apply them and how they would run in a competition. And I've learned about myself that I'm a perfectionist, I'm a perfectionist with my group, and I always accept set perfection. And then if we're not doing really well, I tend to become a lone wolf or pull out or just like, we're done, we're done. I will end it come together, figure it out. So learning to like cooperate and listen as a group. And I feel like our team really meshes really well. Everybody has a different viewpoint and we all respect each other's opinions, positions, and everything. So which really kind of helped when we were trying to decide things. One of us was being a leader that I trusted them and their opinions. And I also learned to not accept perfection and more Completion.
Scott Allen 9:50
Yeah, it's so important to be aware of, and every one of us, every one of us has areas for growth. We all have great strengths and we Have areas for growth. Rick, how about you, as you went through this experience and for listeners to provide a little bit of context, we have schools and universities, from really across North America right now some teams in Canada teams the United States. And they put together a team of six students. In this case, Cassie and Carson are their coaches. And there's a curriculum and teams practice from January through April. And then we have this online competition. And that's really where the students are given a 45-minute task and on the fly, they have to navigate that task. And there are judges, there are two judges watching the students perform, filling out a rubric based on the curriculum, and their scores are averaged. So there's a process score, but then there's a result score. And So Rick, Mila had the benefit of having done this before, because it's a little bit daunting, you're given this task. And all of a sudden, you have to kind of orient fairly quickly with what we're up to here, and how we're going to be successful. Rick, tell us about your experience with this. And what did you learn about yourself?
Oh, absolutely. I want to say I had a very similar experience to Mila. I haven't done the coursework or the competition. So I would jump straight into the competitive side of it. And so there was a bit of a learning curve for sure that I will say, just like James, I am also a nontraditional student. So I picked up a lot of my leadership skill sets outside in the real world, it is almost a completely different beast, because you learn in the real world through trial and error, and almost without any indication of Foundations of Leadership. And then the course itself really focuses on the foundation of it. And so although I thought I had a pretty decent understanding of leadership, I was opened up to a whole different perspective on it, a whole new set of skills. It was a learning curve, but it was very much fun. I really enjoyed every minute of it. And so the experience was nothing short of memorable and in the most positive way possible.
Scott Allen 12:05
Good, good. Well, what are some aspects of the curriculum that stand out for folks? Maybe you see it in the real world? Often? It's like, oh, wow, I'm out in the wild right now. And I'm seeing some of these dynamics and seeing some of these concepts happen. Mila, you raised your hand quickly, what do you think?
So I was a competitive chef for six years. And in the competitive world, for in a kitchen, the kitchen always gets a bad rep. It's a toxic environment if you let it be. And so that solve principle all the time like you don't really learn SOLVE, obviously, in the kitchen, when you're like competing, but the always like, set roles, outline the problem, like when you're in the heat of the moment, somebody burnt your sugar that's going to be used for your dessert piece. Like, obviously, you didn't set roles enough for who was going to watch that sugar. Now we need to problem solve as a group, like what's gonna go on because, and some of my competitions, you weren't allowed to go get more ingredients. So if you destroyed an ingredient, you had to make it up somehow, or either decide as a group that we're not putting it on the plate and your whole group, your team needs to be okay with that. So my teams were really good at that. And some of them were really bad at that, and the salt, and you could see it when you would like to watch us practice that it was when I say some of my team practices were a hot mess in the real world. They were a hot mess and a half
Scott Allen 13:25
Neela that is so cool that you just said that. I literally yesterday morning had a conversation with a potential coach from Switzerland. And she is it's a school that is focusing on hospitality and culinary arts. So she was seeing exactly what you just said she was seeing all of the potential connections from their curriculum, which is at face value, very different, but it's just as real. I mean, leadership styles followership styles, problem-solving, conflict. All of that's there. It's all there. It's just the context of the culinary arts. That's very, very cool. Who else has seen some of these things out there in the wild, and made some connections to the real world? What do you think?
Well, I was in the army for eight and a half years. So I saw all different kinds of leadership styles and all different situations. Something I learned through that and that echoed through this conference that twos competition was, you know, there are different styles for different situations. And I thought it was interesting to see it in a way that's more digestible because you're going through the exercise. And then immediately after the exercise, which is only 45 minutes, you're going through it and you're able to remember all the things that happened and kind of touch on all those topics. Whereas in my previous experience, it was usually you know, days later when you go over things, and it wasn't as fresh and there were a lot more moving pieces with us. There are only a few of us and it's easier to break down. But this is ...the same things come up. It's just in a different tempo, I would say.
Scott Allen 15:04
Totally. The military at least the army is famous for that. What after-action review, really taking that time to debrief what happened, but to your point? Yes, after each activity, we've got 1520 minutes as a team, because it's painful, Cassie, isn't it? Painful sitting there sometimes Carson and watching the team perform, and you're seeing all these potential opportunities that in real-time, maybe they're missing because they're just in the heat of the moment and really making things happen? It will Cassie, you have your hand up? I love it. Okay, what do you got?
Cassie (Coach) 15:36
It just that brings like a funny memory of Carson and me watching the competition in our office, and we're like, remember, set roles were like, Why are you? It's so hard to watch, you know, over zoom. And then I, you know, I think in going through this curriculum is always it holds me accountable. You know, obviously, as we go through the program, I have some of my ambassadors in there. I have some of our club leaders there. And so for me to be talking about these things, it always reminds me of I need to be acting this out. I need to be living this out in my leadership. But one thing that to your question about the activities is I was sharing with them that that last activity that they all did with the presentation, sadly, mirrored a lot of the meetings I'm in every day where there's a people have a hard time kind of rein that in. I know for us, we talked a lot about using different leadership styles. Kristin did a fantastic job. And she was our leader for that. And we had a really good debrief after that competition, or after that activity. And one of the things that I shared was that is how a lot of my meetings go is because someone chooses to use a Democratic leadership style throughout the process. And sometimes nothing gets done. Yes, yes. And so just seeing the value of using different leadership styles at different times. And being able to intentionally use those and not default, I think highlighted that very well.
Scott Allen 17:04
Well, there's this beautiful, I believe we use it in the curriculum. But there's this clip of the film Apollo 13, where Gene Krantz from Mission Control is trying to lead a group of engineers about how we get these people home, we've got a new mission, I'll put a link to it in the show notes. But it's this beautiful clip, and in probably two minutes, he kind of nicely seamlessly it's not a Jekyll Hyde type experience. But he moves from yellowtail Hartselle. Here's our mission. And then he moves into how are we going to get people home democratic, and you see him using each of these styles that are appropriate for the context. Dan Goleman wrote an article once about leadership styles, it was in Harvard Business Review. And he kind of equated it to different golf clubs that we use a different club for where we are on the course there's an appropriate tool. So I love your comment, Cassie, because I'm in those as well, where it's just this wandering democratic kind of a mess, and no one is asserting. Sometimes in those meetings, I'll try and use a more pacesetting approach to say, Hey, I think we have consensus, I think we could vote. And sometimes that works to get us moving forward. And sometimes it doesn't. It's interesting to watch it play out, though, right? As we begin to wind down because we're only going to talk for about 30 minutes today as we begin to wind down. What I would love for you to do is just share with me a couple of reasons you felt proud. What were some moments where you felt proud of your team? It could be an individual on the team. It could be the team as a whole. But I would love listeners just to hear some stories. What were some moments it could have been during the practice season? It could have been during the competition. Maybe it was after the competition, and something stands out for you where you just really felt proud. James, sir. Oh, wanted to point out
throughout I think the second and third activities where the pressure was really on and team, I feel like we weren't the only team that was struggling, especially in that second one. Yeah, it was a pretty tough one. That was the escape room activity. Throughout the entire competition. This entire team kept their cool, they celebrated those small wins, and they kept encouraging each other. And that's really what brings, you know, teams together. And that's something that because a lot of us all work together on a daily basis here at the college, we've been able to sort of pull from that work culture into these activities. And I just thought that was an amazing job for everybody.
Scott Allen 19:40
I love it. And you know, James, that second activity was designed so that you wouldn't do well. That was that you couldn't no one was going to accomplish that activity. But does the team stay optimistic and display a level of resilience and grit as we move on to the next activity? cuz you might have felt like, oh, we bombed that. But actually, you did just as well, or better than everyone else. Kristin, what do you have?
Definitely the same thing. I'm very happy about this team. And they were just all able to, you know, see the good things and art, whatever we do for our third activity. It was chaotic because we misunderstood the assignment. So at first, we thought we literally bombed because we barely had any time. I don't even know how you are able to practice it. Five times, I think it was...
Scott Allen 20:33
...again, another one that you weren't going to be able to do. But we put in there to throw you off. Right?
Exactly. But we already focused on the things like okay, we're not able to do it, let us get it done. Obviously, I Democratic leadership style, so I was really able to get things done. Well, I, at least I understood that in the end. But as soon as it was over, we were like we did our best. It was great. I know this was rough. But we did our best, we can only see how it goes. At least we were able to get it done. We were all bummed out probably because we were kind of hungry as well. But I just was still optimistic, even though it really tired us out. And I think that that's a very, very good thing that we need to keep in mind when working as a team to always be optimistic and thinking of others and always thinking and thanking them for what they did. And also cheering each other up.
Scott Allen 21:31
Love it. So Carson,
Carson (Coach) 21:32
yes, yes. Now I actually have two in both come from that second activity that you were not supposed to complete. The first one is towards the end of it, there was no way they kind of given up in the sense that like they, they seem like they tried everything in that room. And they weren't really getting anywhere. And it was really I know, the technology was really wonky. And it was a little slow. And it was, you know, their wit's end. But there's just this moment where they all for five minutes straight, just started talking about how proud of each other they are, and how well they think they did. And it was just the greatest moment of celebration of small wins, I saw. And I and Cassie were sitting there just like so happy. And they were obviously, you know, so done with it and agitated but they were just, you know, absolutely crushing it on that aspect. And then the other part from that activity is a highlight on Kristin, who, you know, she separated herself from the group and just cranked out those 40 terms for those easy 40 points. And she really got all 40 of those points. And she really tore it up right there. And I know everybody was really happy about it,
Scott Allen 22:53
they were thankful that she was there to knock that out.
I think the resiliency of the team that we had was absolutely amazing. Like just the amount of optimism, resilience, and grit was out of this world. That's what made me super proud of this team. And then also, although we do all work together, I'm very proud of the synergy that we created amongst one or all of ourselves. We again were familiar with each other, but I don't think we've ever been in a competitive environment with one another. So that does change the tone of relations a little bit. We handled it really well. And honestly, we came out being I think, closer than ever. We are super, super close now. So that was what I was super proud of.
Scott Allen 23:42
I love it wreck. I love it. So Mila, let's go to you, and then we'll go to your scene.
So I was super proud, I did the first activity of leading it, and they pretty much handled everything. And their decision-making skills even as a group were so great because if it would have been me running it, I would not have chosen like the pushcart, I would not have done it that way I would have tried to make the most money as fast as possible. And they also stayed super calm and cool the whole time. Because I mean, we had five minutes left, and we were still in week one. And they like we were just sitting there just like chilling just they'll chat and trying to get everything done. And I'm just over here I'm like, Well, if this is what my team wants to do like I get I'm a perfectionist I would much rather just get the activity done and over with but I'm like this is they want to take their time and everything. I was like I'd much rather everybody be happy. We did it really well. And so they not only came up with great ideas, they had great interactions with each other thing. They were the ones reading everything and figuring out I was like, "are we at a voting?" "Are we okay with this?" and we go on, and they did an excellent job of justifying why they want to do what they want to do to each other and to me,
Scott Allen 24:55
Well, Mila, I think you say something really, really important there that I think sometimes we come into this competition or just people construct leadership as well. I'm the person who has to make the decisions and have all the answers. No, a good portion of the time, you're the person who facilitates the process and helps the wisdom of the group emerge so that we can identify the best path to move forward. And so I love that story about kind of creating that space. That's awesome. Yeah, scene and then we'll go to Cassie.
Mila made me think about this one, just the trust level in our group, it made it easier for me to change my mind because going into an exercise, maybe I thought like, Oh, I know how we're gonna go about doing this. It's gonna be this way, like, this seems obvious. But other people had ideas, and I trusted them. So I'm like, oh, like, these are really good ideas. Maybe, you know, maybe the first way that you think of doing something's not always the right way. So that's one thing. And then on the second activity that they were talking about, with the escape room, just everybody's energy stayed positive. And it made it so much easier. That was probably the most fun. I had it failing something. It didn't seem like a failure.
Scott Allen 26:07
I love it. Maybe we'll title the episode, the most fun I had at failing something. Well, that'd be the title of the podcast. But it's true. I mean, you know, I think I love that mindset. I love that mindset. Because, again, we're not always, especially for putting ourselves out there, especially if we're working at our edge. We're not always going to win, it's not always going to go how we want. But do I have a team and a group of people and we created a space where as a team, we've given her the best shot, even though you think that you're not doing as well as you could, you're winning? Right? You're absolute, you're winning the competition, Cassie,
Cassie (Coach) 26:48
Two things that stuck out to me in this whole journey are I want to just champion the team for focusing on what's in their control. A conversation in our practice is, you know, we knew we had the process points, we knew what was going to be on the process points, but we didn't know the activities. And so I just, I love that the team chose to really focus on that and focus on emotional intelligence and focus on setting roles. And those things that we knew were going to come up regardless of the activity. And they really stuck to that. And then the second thing, and that's been mentioned, but just the way that they supported one another throughout the competition, despite being a little hangry. At the end of the competition, they really just supported each other, they lifted each other up. And I also just want to shout to Carson, every practice, he just made it a little harder. So you know, we had the previous competition rules, but he just upped the ante just a little bit each practice. So they were working under a little bit more difficult instructions. And so I really appreciate him just pushing them and challenging them even more so. But for folks that really had a tendency to go lone wolf, when things got tough, I witnessed, you know, just being able to let perfection go and be able to focus on the bigger picture and the outcome of the goal that we were trying to reach because it's so easy to get those emotions tied in and again, we're tired, we're hungry, but they stuck in it. And they really just work to uplift each other through the whole process.
Scott Allen 28:26
Kristen, and just to listeners know, James, we're going off the rails here. James has put on a big blue hat. And
see now that's what we need to do is have people be in very interesting, you know, outfits during the competition make it more fun. Kristin, what do you got?
Yeah, what I just wanted to add to your scene. But failing is that this team is also really good at learning from these failures. We don't mind failing, because it's part of the learning process. We get better with it. We don't see it as a failure, we just see it as a new opportunity to get better.
Scott Allen 29:06
Thank you, James. I wish maybe we'll put a picture in the show notes so that listeners can see the outfit. What do you have, sir?
Bit so this hat here is actually one of the hats from our mascot here at the campus. I remember it was like either my first or second day on the team. I would walk in with this hat because I would need it because we were like promoting events elsewhere in the school for work. And I'm like, You know what, this is creating a positive vibe positive energy. I'm just gonna wear it to our team meetings. And then I'm doing that almost every week and the team loved it. I think it just kind of help show that this team like they had such a blast, working together working on all of these activities. And you know, it's just been an absolute pleasure working with all of
Scott Allen 29:52
them. Well said, For listeners. This is The Collegiate leadership competition. It's an opportunity for schools to put together teams of students to work through a curriculum and build a sense of camaraderie among a group of six students. And then those six students compete. And they, they compete with other schools from around North America and eventually the world. And we approach and are experimenting with leadership in a little bit of a different way. Leadership, education, leadership, learning, leadership development, and skill-building in just a little bit of different ways. And it's also I hope, as listeners can, I hope you as listeners have experienced the camaraderie that's developed. And again, this is primarily been some face-to-face, but it's also a virtual experience as well. So how do we do this work? Because I'm fairly certain that this generation of traditional-age students will most likely be leading virtually some of the time, there'll be leading teams in person some of the time, it's probably going to be all across the board. So how do we prepare individuals to do that work with success? So to Johnson County Community College, congratulations, you all you knocked it out of the park, you did incredible from, as Cassie said, Last place to first place. That's an incredible story. That's a wonderful story. Good work, Cassie Carson. Very, very nice job leading the team and navigating the process. And for those of you, I hope each of you has an incredible summer. We'll see some of you next year maybe who knows. Okay. As always, everyone. Thanks so much for checking in. Take care and be well. And again, congratulations to Johnson County Community College, just incredible work. They did awesomely. And we look forward to seeing what they accomplished next year!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai