Strong Relationships and Valuing Followers Increase Commitment

The Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX) describes the interactions between me and my supervisor. LMX is a relationship-based theory which states that effective leaders build strong relationships with their followers in order to establish commitment to their mission. These relationships are more than transactional, business relationships. They are based on mutual respect, communication, and understanding. My supervisor and I already had an established relationship before I started interning. Our trust in each other extends to our work this summer. My internship supervisor rarely directly orders me to do something. Rather, she tells me her thoughts and asks for my opinion. She knows that it is more effective to have both of us agree on something, rather than her simply telling me what to do. As a result, I believe that the time I spend working is more effective than it would be if my supervisor simply gave me a list of tasks to complete. Furthermore, my work is more enjoyable because I know that my input is valued.

For example, in my “Being Not-Rich at the University of Richmond” guide, I included a section that listed online communities. I wanted not-rich students to be able to join free communities that could support them. I included links to some Richmond Instagram accounts for BIPOC students and black students. These accounts feature honest stories of UR students of minority backgrounds who have faced unique challenges. When my supervisor saw these accounts, she wondered whether they would be helpful in my document. To clarify, she fully supports these accounts and the messages they spread. However, she questioned whether these accounts should be included in my guide. This is because she did not want students to read these stories without first having a supportive community with whom they could discuss these topics. My supervisor and I discussed this matter and decided that we would rather promote face-to-face communities and have students, especially incoming freshmen, find out about these accounts through a group that already supports them. It is important for students to have a caring community around them that will listen to their challenges. It is not healthy for students to first learn about these challenges anonymously behind a screen. Overall, I felt valued because my supervisor told me her concerns and still asked me for my thoughts on the matter.

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