At Booth, we pride ourselves on the flexible curriculum, but there is one required class every first-year student must take their first quarter: Leadership Effectiveness And Development—or LEAD for short. Through LEAD, students explore how their personality and cultural experiences impact their leadership style and receive valuable 360 feedback on how their professional behavior is perceived. But the course doesn’t only provide value to first-years. For a select group of ~40 second-year students (including me), it provides the unique opportunity to develop and facilitate a curriculum for the incoming first-years that directly impacts the culture of leadership at Booth.
We call ourselves LEAD Facilitators (Facils for short)—recognizable by our stylish Leadership Development Office polos and unmistakable charm. But we don’t do it (just) for the free swag and recognition. Every Facil’s motivations may be different, here are mine…
Give back to the Booth community by shaping Booth’s approach to leadership
Being a LEAD Facil is hard work! We began planning this year’s curriculum last spring, meeting for almost 10 hours each week researching our topics, building on and revising last year’s curriculum, and planning the logistics. We also conducted a “dry run” of our presentations with UChicago undergrads, illuminating our strengths and weaknesses as presenters and facilitators.
This fall, the Facils came back to campus a month before classes began—many of us cutting short internships and passing up opportunities to travel. For three weeks, we spent everyday on campus finalizing slides, experimenting with activities, and discussing how to make our content as relevant and beneficial as possible to the incoming class.
Once the first-years arrived, it was show time! Every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:30am, we led a room of sleepy-eyed first years through our content.
You may be wondering why anyone would voluntarily sign up for that. For me, LEAD felt like the pinnacle of Booth’s pay-it-forward culture. As a LEAD Facil, I am one of the first people in the Booth community to welcome the first-year class. Furthermore, I get to pass on and improve upon the lessons from my own LEAD Facils. In this way, I feel like I’m tangibly impacting the culture of leadership at Booth.
Refine my own leadership style
Furthermore, each module I lead or discussion I moderate is a chance for me to grow as a leader. Only at Booth do second-years have the opportunity to be fully responsible for creating and teaching the content of a course to their peers. The experience has allowed me to view leadership from multiple lenses and experiment both within and outside my comfort zone.
For the first-years, taking a course led by second-year peers is a uniquely beneficial experience. Much of the content stems from LEAD Facils’ own personal and professional experiences. Since we were in their shoes just last year, we are extremely focused on tailoring the curriculum to be the most relevant and valuable to our new classmates.
Develop lifelong relationships
Of course, it’s not just all work and no play—my fellow LEAD Facils have become some of my best friends at Booth! Despite all the time spent together working on the curriculum, we choose to spend even more time together outside of school. From the annual Taco Trolley to a BBQ at The Promontory Point to boozy brunches, we can’t get enough of each other!
After becoming a LEAD Facil, I have 40 close friends that I know I can count on and that will support me in my goals. Of all the benefits of LEAD, the lifelong relationships I’ve developed are the most important and will forever be one of the highlights of my Booth experience.