LEWISBURG, Pa. – For the third straight year, a Bucknell coach and student-athletes are in Annapolis, Maryland, attending the U.S. Naval Academy Leadership Conference. This week, assistant water polo coach Kyle Gorham and student-athletes Abby Watson (field hockey) and Anthony Marcozzi (football) are attending the conference and its intensive schedule of leadership training seminars.
The theme of this year's conference is “Leading in an Interconnected World.” Featured speakers include Cisco Senior Vice President Pat Finn, Gen. (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal, PepsiCo Greater China Region President and CEO Mike Spanos, former NFL player and Navy SEAL Clint Bruce, and bestselling author and Forbes magazine publisher Richard Karlgaard.
Two years ago, men's soccer's Mike Lansing, women's rowing's Jennifer Fish, and football's Travis Friend attended the USNA Leadership Conference and were able to attend panels headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh and Hall of Fame basketball coach Dale Brown. Last year, distance runner Ryan Johnson and women’s lacrosse’s Cori Thielemann and Alex Wallace represented Bucknell at the conference, which featured an address from former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The USNA Leadership Conference began in 1984 for senior cadets and midshipmen from each of the service academies. In 2002, the conference's scope expanded to include students from civilian universities, with topics related to government, business and academia, in addition to the military. More than 200 participants from over 45 colleges now attend each year.
Watson and Marcozzi will be teaming up to provide blog accounts from the Leadership Conference throughout the week, and they will be posted at BucknellBison.com. Their first posting is below.
This conference fits into the mission of the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy. Now in its fourth year, the Leadership Academy delivers programming and instruction that bridge theory, development and real experiences in an interactive learning environment. On-campus leadership programming is ongoing throughout the year and is supplemented by opportunities for student-athletes to travel to leadership seminars around the country.
The Spring 2015 semester is just underway at Bucknell, but Leadership Academy sessions have already taken place. Last week Dr. Joe Thomas, a faculty member from a leadership training group called the “Student-Leader Seminar,” returned to campus for the third time this academic year. Dr. Thomas visited Bucknell in August for the 2014-15 Leadership Academy Kickoff Event, and he was back in December for a talk with all Bison student-athletes on the topic of hazing.
This time, Dr. Thomas’ sessions focused on understanding the dynamics and importance of effective conversation as a method of leadership. He touched on how to approach stressful conversations and being aware of one’s own communication style as well as the conversation styles of those you are engaged with. The Bucknell student-athletes read a three-part case study and discussed first in small groups and then as a whole how they would approach the situations, which highlighted difficult conversations in a team setting.
“The information session with Dr. Thomas was both informational and inspiring,” said Leadership Academy participant Cassie Denger, a senior on the Bison women’s soccer team. “He encouraged me to think in a new way about conflict resolution, and he taught me how to use my personal feelings to try to resolve a team problem. I was lucky enough to work with one of our team’s co-captains, Lauren Dandie, and together we made the most of our short time learning from Dr. Thomas.”
The day began with a delicious breakfast buffet in the Loews Hotel, followed by a shuttle to Mahan Hall at the Naval Academy. There are over 200 students and professionals from across the U.S. and overseas in attendance. MIT, West Point, Yale, Princeton and many other universities are being represented by students or faculty. There we sat in a beautiful auditorium and listened to the keynote speaker after opening remarks from Vice Admiral Carter.
The keynote speaker was Patrick Finn, Vice President of Cisco’s U.S. Public Sector Organization. His presentation was titled “Leading in an Interconnected World” and focused on understanding the differences between perception and reality as well as differences between leadership and ignorance. He shared his favorite interview question with us: “What are seven words that describe yourself?” He provided a link to a website that allows you to send a survey to friends and colleagues asking them to describe you in seven words. The responses come back anonymously, but it is a great tool to help you learn about yourself and refine your leadership style. This could be great for students and faculty at Bucknell to help facilitate growth on campus. The link to the website is http://sevenwordsaboutme.com. He encouraged us to stay true to ourselves, stick to our core values, and put ourselves in awkward situations in order to lead at the highest level.
After a quick break in the lobby, the conference reconvened at 10:15 in Mahan Hall for the first panel discussion, titled “The Conscientious Leader: Operating within the Realm of Perception.” This panel was moderated by US Navy Master Instructor Jennie Wood and was comprised of four world-renowned professionals with highly proficient leadership skills and unique advice. Confidence, authenticity, execution and humility were topics that all speakers covered and emphasized.
After the speakers fielded numerous questions from the audience, we strolled over to King Hall with our Midshipman escort, Fabio Garcia. We arrived in the dining hall and ate lunch with the entire brigade (all students attending the Academy). Even though we did not take 30 minutes to digest our food, we gutted out the intense walking tour of the campus. In all seriousness, can you say beauty? If you can’t, just say “The United States Naval Academy Campus,” instead. Fabio took us through the chapel on campus and the burial site of John Paul Jones, who is the Father of Navy. We then proceeded to walk through the quad and into the mathematics and engineering buildings. The tour ended with a cup of joe in the library, which sits right on the Severn River.
Shortly thereafter, we headed to the Bo Coppedge building for our first breakout session. We were split up into different groups to discuss the challenges of being an ethical leader in a technology-driven society. Both of us were able to share insight from our own perspectives while also learning from others who hold similar leadership positions on their campuses. Yik Yak was a hot topic at both of our tables. We found that it is a big deal at the Naval Academy, and company leaders often get questioned from superiors about content on the app. We both could contribute to this conversation due to the app’s negative influence on Bucknell’s campus as well.
Dinner was held at Naval Academy Club. The Bucknellians shared a table with two seniors who attend the Coast Guard Academy. We got to learn a lot about their college experience and compare and contrast it with ours. Both were athletes, so it was interesting to hear about how they balance academics, athletics and military life.
Following dinner we had the opportunity to listen to General Stanley A. McChrystal speak in the basketball arena with the Leadership Conference attendees and all of the Midshipmen. He talked to us a lot about power and how the quest for power can be our downfall, but it is also extremely important for us to recognize and connect with legitimate power. General McChrystal ended his speech by saying, “It is not important how the wave breaks, it’s how you ride it.” This quote really resonated with both of us. Later, we had the opportunity to meet General McChrystal and ask him some questions about leadership that were on our minds throughout the day. We gained a lot of priceless advice and knowledge about leadership through our experiences today that we are excited to bring back to Bucknell.
Thanks for checking in!
Watson and Marcozzi Out