Leadership Activities

"Leadership is no longer limited to a chosen few!" - John P. Kotter, Leading Change
MESA Creators are leaders in-and-out of the classroom!

Being an "effective leader" is a goal that all MESA Creators can achieve. However, it begins with a commitment to seek opportunities for developing leadership skills.  The MESA Program offers leadership activities each semester, and there are other outside opportunities that MESA Creators can benefit from.

The Culture of Effective Leadership

An effective leader also has knowledge and wisdom.  Critical for MESA Creators is knowledge of the Culture of Effective Leadership - this is a collection of 3 books that are essential for leadership development. To truly become effective leaders, the challenge for all MESA Creators is to own the Culture of Effective Leadership - this means: purchase the books, read the books, gain knowledge from the books, apply the knowledge gained, and build the wisdom that is necessary for leaders. More than developing scholars, the MESA culture develops leaders!

The Culture of Effective Leadership has the following books:
  1. Leading Change 
  2. The Culture of Collaboration 
  3. Crucial Conversations 
Book #1 - Leading Change (Author: John P. Kotter)
Change is a constant in life. To be successful, MESA Creators must know how to handle change - and better yet, know how to lead change! The first book in the Culture of Effective Leadership is Leading Change. Read this first! This book identifies the big picture for leading change - it gives MESA Creators an 8 step plan for leading change:

  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
  2. Create the Guiding Coalition
  3. Develop a Vision and Strategy
  4. Communicate the Change Vision
  5. Empower Others for Broad-Based Action
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins
  7. Consolidate Gains and Produce More Change
  8. Anchor New Approaches in the Culture
Note step #1 - establish a sense of urgency: if we don't have a sense of urgency, then we cannot begin to have true change!

Training Resources for Leading Change:
Book #2 - The Culture of Collaboration (Author: Evan Rosen)
Collaboration is necessary to effectively lead change. To be successful, MESA Creators must know how to collaborate with others. The second book in the Culture of Effective Leadership is The Culture of Collaboration. Read this second! This book identifies the 10 cultural elements that are necessary for effective collaboration:

  1. Trust
  2. Sharing
  3. Goals
  4. Innovation
  5. Environment
  6. Collaborative Chaos: Making Room for the Unexpected
  7. Constructive Confrontation
  8. Communication
  9. Community
  10. Value
Note collaboration element #1 - trust: if we don't have trust, then we cannot begin to have true collaboration!

Training Resources for the Culture of Collaboration:
Book #3 - Crucial Conversations (Authors: Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler)
Knowing how to lead change and how to collaborate is important, however, communication is the skill that distinguishes effective leaders. To be successful, MESA Creators must know how to communicate with others - and better yet, know how to master crucial conversations! The third book in the Culture of Effective Leadership is Crucial Conversations. Read this third! This book helps MESA Creators to master crucial conversations.

Definition: A crucial conversation is a discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong - and the outcome greatly impacts lives.

People who are most influential and get things done are those who have mastered crucial conversations!

Every MESA Creator must have the Culture of Effective Leadership books in their personal library, and they should use them often. MESA Creators are leaders!

Training Resources for Crucial Conversations:

See "Culture of Effective Leadership" handout (PDF).


MESA "Culture of Effective Leadership" Book Club

The MESA "Culture of Effective Leadership" Book Club will be kicked off in Spring 2012. The Club will meet on the last week of the month (on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning) to discuss each of the books in the Culture of Effective Leadership. A City College professor will facilitate the discussion at each meeting, beginning with the Spring Kickoff. The purpose of the Spring Kickoff is to discuss Book Club guidelines and strategies for effectively reading and enjoying the books.

Here is the tentative Club meeting schedule:

  • January 27, 10-11 am @ MESA Center - Spring Kickoff (Facilitator: English Professor Paul Alexander)
  • February 29, 2:30-3:30 pm @ MESA Center -
    Book: Leading Change (Facilitator: Lance Soukhaseum, Tutorial Center Director)
  • March TBA - Book: The Culture of Collaboration (Facilitator: English Professor Oscar Preciado)
  • April 25, 2:30-3:30 pm @ MESA Center -
    Book: Crucial Conversations (Facilitator: Dr. Luis Perez, Puente Program Director)
Stay tuned for details!


MESA “Culture of Effective Leadership” $500 Scholarship

Deadline: 12 noon, May 4, 2012

The MESA “Culture of Effective Leadership” is a collection of 3 books that form an essential foundation for leadership development:

  1. Leading Change (Author: John P. Kotter)
  2. The Culture of Collaboration (Author: Evan Rosen)
  3. Crucial Conversations (Authors: Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler)

Challenge - In an essay, provide your reaction to each book and your plans for using the “Culture of Effective Leadership.”

A. For each book, address the following:

  1. Choose a quote from the book that inspired you, and explain why.
  2. What key lessons did you learn that will help to make you a better leader?  Provide specific examples.

B. Overall, explain how you plan to use your new knowledge about the “Culture of Effective Leadership.”  What action or steps do you plan to take to become a better leader?

Eligibility – This scholarship opportunity is open to all MESA Creators who are currently in the City College MESA Program or who have transferred and are still in school (university or grad school).

Guidelines - Your essay must be 3-4 pages, typed and double-spaced, written in a standard essay format, using APA or MLA style, with a coherent introduction and clear thesis, a well-organized body, and a rational conclusion.  Include an additional “Reference” page (APA) or “Works Cited” page (MLA), and follow the rules for “In-Text Citations” for APA or MLA.

All essays must be delivered to the MESA Director by the deadline.  No exceptions!

Helpful Tips and Other Resources

  • Own the reading!  Read each book to enrich your life.  Understand what the author is telling you, AND understand what “you don’t understand.”  Think about it.  Make this more than “just an assignment”!
  • Books – students are responsible for getting their own books. Amazon is a good place to start! Also, the books may be purchased at the City College Bookstore.
  • Blackboard – A Blackboard forum will be created to help students interact about their reading experience, including questions, reactions and online chats.  Stay tuned for details.
  • Reading “buddies” – students are strongly encouraged to form reading groups of 2 or more and establish a plan for reading the books.  This will help to keep you on schedule and to discuss the reading with other “buddies” as you go.
  • Writing workshops – visit the English Center for the Spring schedule of writing workshops.  Also, a writing workshop for this scholarship essay will be offered in early April.  Stay tuned for details.
  • Tutoring – visit the English Center for any help with writing your essay, especially getting started!
  • Book Club - The Club will meet on the last week of the month (on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning) to discuss each of the books in the Culture of Effective Leadership: FEBRUARY - Leading Change, MARCH - The Culture of Collaboration, APRIL - Crucial Conversations.  A City College professor will facilitate the discussion at each meeting.  Stay tuned for details!

Book Club Photo Albums

  • January - Kickoff
  • February - Leading Change
  • March - The Culture of Collaboration
  • April - Crucial Conversations

More than scholars, the MESA Program creates leaders!
Good luck!

See "Culture of Effective Leadership $500 Scholarship" handout (PDF).


Other Recommended Readings

In addition to the Culture of Effective Leadership, below are many recommended readings to add to your knowledge as a MESA Creator and leader.

Start With Why - How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek (2011)

Strengths Based Leadership - Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow
Tom Rath & Barry Conchie (2008)


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey (2000)

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell (2008)

The Tipping Point
Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

Malcolm Gladwell (2005)

Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions
Gayle Laakman McDowell (2011)
Referred by MESA Creator Will Samuels - Computer Science/UCSD 2014

The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company
Gayle Laakman McDowell (2011)