Elevate – Student Leadership

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I created this series of podcasts and workshops as part of a larger student leader program I ran for a small group of high schoolers at a church in North San Diego County. The language in my podcasts reflects the original audience, but the lessons have general implications for us all.

I’m sharing all the original podcasts free of charge. Take a listen and always feel free to reach out to me regarding the workshops.


Influential Material

Refining this project into such a small workshop series meant leaning heavily on a few key resources:

Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Leadership: A Communication Perspective by Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson

I highly recommend these books to anyone willing to read them. Leadership: A Communication Perspective is a bit dense (it is a textbook after all). But! Nonviolent Communication is the perfect combination of life-changing and easy-to-read! Buy it used for a good deal, mark it up with some notes, and be ready to recommend it to all your friends.

Workshop #1 – Leadership as Communication

Leadership is an act. It isn’t just about a title.

That’s bad news for people who want to lean on the shiny initials after their name, or their cool position in the organization chart, but it’s great news for the rest of us.

If leadership is an act then anyone can learn in.

In addition, this workshop provided me the opportunity to introduce circular communication models and key terms for the rest of the program like Marshal Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication”.

Life Alienating Communication Part 1: Moralistic Judgements

The next 4 podcast episodes take a deeper dive into the concepts of Marshall Rosenberg’s “Life Alienating Communication”. As leaders, we want to use communication that breeds connection with our team. “Life Alienating Communication” is the opposite of that.

Life Alienating Communication Part 2: Comparisons

Life Alienating Communication Part 3: Denial of Responsibility

Life Alienating Communication Part 4: Other Forms

Workshop #1.5 – Recapping Examples of Life Alienating Communication

The title says it all. The last four podcasts took a dive into Rosenberg’s “Life Alienating Communication”, but there’s something about regrouping in person to discuss and argue these concepts.

Workshop #2 – Observations v. Evaluations

Understanding the difference between an observation and an evaluation is vital to understanding strategic communication. Evaluations aren’t bad, but they sure are problematic when we communication them as if they are observations.

Culture Part 1: What is culture? A Communication Perspective.

The next 3 podcasts take a deep dive into the specifics of organizational culture. Culture is as important as most people think, but we can’t let it stay a buzz word. Once we understand what makes and shapes culture, the next step is identifying types of cultures worth aiming for.

Culture Part 2: How Do Leaders Change Culture? Specific Mechanisms.

Culture Part 3: Adaptive, Learning, and Trusting Cultures. What Are They?

Workshop #3 – Understanding Culture

Like I said before, culture is a buzz word in most organizations. Phrases like “we have a culture issue” are often riddled with problematic assumptions. That being said, culture is VERY important.

This workshop zeros in on the specifics of culture, and the key roles that leaders play in the shaping of it. A conversation about culture can quickly jump into far reached abstract notions, but the workshop works hard to stay grounded in concrete mechanisms based in academic research.


Taking it a few steps farther.

Only so many things can be expressed in such a short series. This content is only the beginning of understanding leadership, culture, and the power of communication.

Relevant next topics include: Conflict Resolution, Empathy, Creative Problem Solving, Expressing Anger Fully, Expressing Appreciation, The Protective Use of Force, and so much more!

Contact me if you’d like to work together. We can tailor content specific to your organizations needs or you can listen to the free podcasts and let that be the start of your own journey!

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