By: Jannani Krishnan, MS-2.
Jannani Krishnan is a second-year podiatric medical student at California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM). She is currently the chief editor for PrePodiatryClinic101.
Leadership to me is much more than just authority and recognition from the outside world. It’s about communication through expressing ideas and sharing information with a multitude of audiences. According to Daniel Goleman’s leadership model, my leadership style is one that is visionary. A visionary leader helps bring about change necessary for the world around them. As a visionary leader, I tend to start with a clear vision in mind, which promotes communication and collaboration. As soon as I see a problem, I find innovative or creative ways of solving or easing the situation. Growing up, I was very soft spoken and shy, which led me to have poor communication and collaborative skills in school. I wanted to improve my confidence and interpersonal relationships by improving my communication skills. In my undergraduate years, I participated in leadership programs which not only helped me develop the skillset to be an effective leader, but also helped me learn more about myself and increase my confidence. After learning concepts and soft skills about leadership in those programs, I created different projects that helped me apply what I have learned from my undergraduate years to my medical school years. Not only did it help me complete the leadership programs, but it also help me enrich my personal development.
A visionary leader helps bring about change necessary for the world around them.
During my freshman year of college at University of California, Merced, I joined the Margo F. Souza Leadership Center to start my personal development journey. After taking the necessary seminars and classes, my capstone project utilized the leadership skills I had learned. I created and led an initiative to provide support for patients in the Merced community hospital. “Crochet and Knit for a Cause” brought students together to create hand-made beanies, blankets, and scarves for newborn and cancer patients at Mercy Medical Center in Merced, California. To achieve this, I had a vision in mind that I wanted to serve medical patients and use my hobby for a good cause. Leadership skills, such as time management, communication, and teamwork were significantly used to accomplish this task. I communicated effectively with students and faculty on how to be involved through social media and flyers, hospital coordinators regarding donation drop off dates/times, and my faculty advisor for regular progress checks. Overall, the experience allowed me to make a difference in patients’ lives, to provide a de-stressing exercise for students, to further develop my passion for medicine and to become a service-oriented person. Communication helped me express my passion for the cause and encouraged people to join. I held mini workshops teaching volunteers how to make crochet squares and eventually, I sewed all the squares that the members made into a quilt and donated it to the hospital. By the end of the year, at the 2015 Annual Leadership Award Ceremony, I was awarded with the Distinguished Leadership Award, which recognized an undergraduate student who showed exceptional leadership skills. This taught me the practicality of leadership and allowed me to take the first steps in reaching my personal development goals.
Overall, the experience allowed me to make a difference in patients’ lives, to provide a de-stressing exercise for students, to further develop my passion for medicine and to become a service-oriented person.
During my junior year of college, I transferred to University of California, Davis, where I continued to hone in my leadership skills by challenging myself to do something out of my comfort zone. I joined the Center for Leadership and Learning, where I participated in a series of leadership classes. After taking the necessary courses, my group project focused on creating hygiene kits for local homeless and low-income communities. I delegated tasks and mapped out our team’s vision on this initiative. As a team, we exchanged ideas on how to target the audience most effectively and a monthly action plan. Effective communication was necessary to request donations for personal hygiene products from community organizations via formal email and phone calls. This helped me become more coherent with my thoughts and vision by explaining it to the organizations. Overall, this experience showed me the importance of working as a team. As we worked together, I noticed the dynamic shift from a group to a team that we became. Leadership is all about teamwork and helping each other reach the same goal. This experience helped me gain more confidence by working as a team and reaching out to people in the community which improved my interpersonal communication skills.
As we worked together, I noticed the dynamic shift from a group to a team that we became. Leadership is all about teamwork and helping each other reach the same goal.
In my second year of podiatric medical school, I decided to introduce the idea of the “Happiness Jar Project” to Samuel Merritt University in hopes of shining light and peace to those that need it the most, especially during these times of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My goal for this project was to spread positivity and encourage mindfulness within our community. 2020 was an unexpected year that no one saw coming, so I thought what better time to launch this initiative in hopes of spreading happiness, easing any anxiety, and bringing peace into people’s lives. This “Happiness Jar Project” means a lot to me, because it helped me a few years ago in coping with anxiety and depression. I introduced the idea of the “Happiness Jar,” in which students can fill a jar with notes of happy moments that they had each day to reiterate happy thoughts when they are going through difficult times. I felt that there is no better time than now to start expressing gratitude and focusing on the positives in life. Sometimes, we forget to show gratitude to the little things in life and take it for granted. Leadership helped me communicate empathetically by creating a safe space for members to reach out for advice. I communicated effectively to my supervisor for progress checks, crafted an email blast to the community, weekly self-care/motivation quotes and activities on social media, monthly survey for feedback, and organized a year end wrap up. The students and faculty enjoyed the concept and continued the “Happiness Jar Project” for the rest of the year. I gained new skills and habits that helped me understand the steps I could take to create a more positive life for myself and others.
Leadership helped me communicate empathetically by creating a safe space for members to reach out for advice.
Leadership helped me become a better version of myself; however, there is always room to grow. My leadership style has helped me become successful in my personal development journey and I will continue to use it as a tool to navigate my career as well. Each experience is unique and taught me different lessons: (1) communication is key when it comes to community outreach projects, (2) collaboration enabled the switch from group to team which fostered and strengthened our relationship, (3) empathetic communication helps form deep connections and cultivate a welcoming culture. My visionary leadership style helped me transform from being soft-spoken and shy to confident and driven, which ultimately improved my interpersonal relationships with others.
Leadership helped me become a better version of myself; however, there is always room to grow.
By Jannani Krishnan, MS–2
School: California School of Podiatric Medicine
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