Tyson Wooters, this year’s annual Associated Students of the University of La Verne leadership speaker, spoke to students in the Campus Center on Monday night.
During his talk, Wooters emphasized the importance of group experiences and how they give each person a chance at leadership.
He also talked about four words that enhance group experiences: membership, ownership, stewardship and leadership.
“A leader is anyone who is being followed. If no one follows, you’re a poser,” Wooters said.
While speaking on membership, Wooters explained that there are three groups of membership a person can belong to. The first are groups a person chooses, like clubs, teams, and Greek life on campus.
The second are groups that choose the person, like family. The third are groups a person visits, like during study abroad.
Wooters told of his experiences in foreign countries and how people can learn from being outside of their own culture.
Wooters ended his four “ships” with a discussion on leadership, and asked the audience to define what a leader is to them.
Those who spoke out said a leader is someone who has influence, someone who has integrity, and someone who is sincere.
“You are a leader just by doing what you do, by the example that you set,” Wooters said.
Leading by example was another common theme Wooters discussed. Sometimes someone becomes a leader just because they showed up, he said.
“We all are leaders and our influence can go a long way, and not a lot of people realize it,” Salinger Morales, sophomore philosophy and religion major, said.
Wooters also inspired other students in the audience with his tales of when he was the duck, University of Oregon’s mascot, for four years.
As the mascot, Wooters encountered experiences that impacted his view on leadership and personal growth.
He took these lessons into his first job as a high school band director.
“I never realized high school bands could reach such strictness and diligence,” said Nathan Silerio, sophomore political science major.
“If someone has the ability to get 22 kids and create a semi-military force, that just shows what one man can do,” Wooters used the high school marching band he coached as an example of how to be a member of a group, taking ownership of the group’s vision, being a steward and then leading.
He set extremely high standards for the band and got significant results – instead of disrespectful teenagers, he trained them to lead by example as organized and considerate band members.
“If you can get into their world, you can be a leader,” Wooters said.
He got into his student’s world and led them.
After, they became the leaders in their own group because everyone follows the example set before them Wooters said.
Wooters explained how the experiences his band had could be recreated for any student organizations.
To keep the talk light, Wooters also gave fun anecdotes that revealed people’s true nature as followers and leaders – how it takes one act to get into their world to be a leader.
“I loved when he told the story about going to class and taking someone else’s seat,” Morales said.
Wooters encouraged students to take notice of how their actions affect those around them.
“I realized just how much we are leaders in our daily lives, and we don’t even know it,” Silerio said.
Hayley Hulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.