Posted on February 10, 2022
By Damon Youmans Jr., Maya Williams and Cristal Gonzalez
“I think of leadership as a generative process that can work from each person going forward”–Christopher Poulos
Dr. Christopher Poulos says that for those who study communication, they understand how to conduct dialogue to keep the conversation productive and efficient. Dr. Poulos is a Communication Studies professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. We get a better glimpse of how Professor Poulos uses communication to enhance leadership within his community. When you truly listen, the other person feels respected, which can steer a conversation in the right direction.
Professor Poulos spoke about how his research and our actions behind social justice can promote the community and their voices. In the classes that Dr. Poulos teaches, he frames the conversations his students have so that they take what they know about ethics and apply it to real life conversations. Dr. Poulos wants to see his students in the community doing things they talk about in class. Dr. Poulos stated how UNCG is different from other parts of Greensboro and the University isn’t segregated as much. People here at the University tend to get along mainly because it’s known that most of us have the same goal and ambitions by being at the University, regardless of our demographics. We will go a long way if we can adopt the approach and apply it to our culture.
According to the website for the UNCG-based National Communication Association’s (NCA) Center for Communication, Community Collaboration and Change, “The program [NCA Project] features vibrant citizen participation dimensions, focusing on improving the lives of people in Greensboro, making explicit connections to communications and offering ample opportunities for curricular and student partnerships”. Professor Poulos facilitates the Greensboro History Museum’s Democracy Tables, which is one of the NCA grant projects. The Democracy Table is a “series of facilitated discussions designed to attract city residents into dialogue on locally-based issues and concerns” (NCA). Professor Poulos says he learned listening is key in community dialogue when he was volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. He asked someone from the community to talk to him about her experiences. After she finished, she thanked the professor and told him she finally feels heard and respected, which again reminded him of the importance of listening.
Ultimately, Poulos believes that anyone has the potential to lead in their community. He says that it’s important for people to first find their passion. One way he implements this ideal is encouraging his students to find their passion and exploring ways that passion “lights up in the community.” He wants them to get involved and share their values, their concerns, and their passions. As a leader, Poulos also finds it important to explore things outside of your passions, guiding you to find different perspectives with more knowledge and more connection within your community. One of the most profound pieces of advice Poulos gave was that leadership can occur in big and small ways and “sometimes it’s as small as really being the one that acknowledges someone else in dialogue”. Dr. Poulos is a demonstration of what a leader in the community looks like, not only being a leader himself, but encouraging those around him to be a leader in what they believe in as well.
Damon Youmans Jr is a May 2021 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in Communication Studies. He wrote this article to bring attention to one of Greensboro’s representatives.
Maya Williams is a senior in the Communications Studies program at UNCG and works with the University Communications department as their social media intern. Her experiences with the Communications in Leadership course (CST 460) inspired her interest in writing this article about a leader within her own community.
Cristal Gonzalez is a May 2021 graduate of the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Her field of study is Communication Studies with a minor in Information Systems management. She was interested in writing this piece to shine light on one of the leaders in the Greensboro Community.