Seth Ferranti/ Class 10: Leadership

by Seth Ferranti

251. What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me means being able to see the big vision and not just the small picture. A leader has to have the best interest of the whole in his heart and mindset. He can’t be selfish or only think about himself and his immediate family or friends. He has to think about the whole community in which he resides or even the whole state or country. A good leader takes everything into account. He doesn’t discount something just because he has no interest in it or can’t see the point, he tries to see it all and than base his decisions off of all the information for the betterment of everyone. That is a leader to me, it encompasses a lot, more than most people can deal with. You must be fair, impartial and objective. You have to be able to persuade and motivate but also be diplomatic and sooth over egos. Being a leader is a hard and difficult job that most people are not cut out for.

252. In what ways have your past decisions prepared you for leadership?

I have always been a leader but the number one thing a leader has to know is when to follow. Different people are suited for different roles when different scenarios play out. You can be the leader in one thing but a follower in another. You have to be able to humble yourself in that situation and realize that its not always just about you. Even when I was out in the world leading my own little drug crew I was a leader, I was just leading in the wrong fashion. I have learned from my past bad decisions and from the good ones I have made too. I think my whole life, every situation I have been in has prepared me to take a leadership role in certain situations when I come home. I believe I am good with people, I get a long with everyone and I can motivate people and persuade them to different views than the ones they might originally hold. Everything I have been through has prepared me to take a leadership role in certain projects and in different circumstances in the world when I come home.

253. Where does leadership begin?

Leadership begins with the choices we make. Because how can I be a good leader if I make bad choices. You must lead by example and hope that other people choose to follow your lead. I can’t tell you to do something this way and then I don’t follow my own advice. That is exhibiting bad leadership skills. A leader doesn’t make excuses. He fixes the problem. He is solution based. He evaluates what the situation is, consults with whoever is necessary to consult with and then decides the best course of action and he doesn’t hesitate once a decision or course of action is made. He sticks to the course and rides it home. So leadership begins with the individual and the choices and decisions he makes.

254. In what ways can an individual measure his capacity to lead?

An individual can measure his capacity to lead by making decision and sticking to them even in the face of adversity and by leading by example. It is not what I say but what I do. With a position of strength, understanding and communication, he can effectively lead and influence others just by his presence and a spoken word. he can avert problems and foresee that potential problems don’t occur by heading them off before they happen. A good leader can encompass all these attributes and has to have good vision in all things to see what is going on including what is said but also what is not said. He has to see what is going on in front of him but also what is going on behind the scenes to make calculated decisions that are best for everyone.

255. In what ways can an individual measure his effectiveness at leadership?

A good leader will have many followers and he will be able to see people using his good example of how to act and how to confer with people and how to carry yourself. By expressing his views and then acting accordingly a good leader can gauge the reactions of others and if they are buying and observing the message that he is selling. By persuasion and example and common sense a good leader can sway many people by having them trust in him and his ability to lead. But they must also trust the decisions he makes even if they don’t like them at first. Being a good leader if about trust and belief and effectiveness can be measured by the continuity of his followers and their belief in him.

256. What does it mean to have a vision?

To have a vision is to have an overall goal. A vision encompasses the big picture. Its not something small it is big and direct and is something of grand and epic proportions. Like I have a definite vision of what I want to do with my life and what I want to do with all the material I am creating from here. I can only do the books and some other things from here but when I come home I will be able to expand my whole repertoire so that I can do all types of things and implement all the things that I have envisioned and move on multiple levels and on multiple formats. I have a lot of work to do but I am not afraid of hard work and I am not afraid to do what I have to do to make my visions become reality.

257. How does a leader gauge the effectiveness of a plan?

The leader gauges the effectiveness of a plan by judging its outcome in purely analytical terms and without bias or favoritism in any fashion. A leader has to gauge the effectiveness of a plan without judgment on how it affects him personally. He has to judge it on how it affects the community as a whole. Not everyone is going to be happy all the time, so a leader must gauge the overall effect his plan had in the short term and in the long run, because that is the only way to gauge it. If a plan is part of a greater vision a lot of people won’t understand because they can only see the small picture not the total vision that the leader is seeing. So a plan must be gauged on its overall results int he long term.

258. Why would leadership require accountability tools?

A leader who is not accountable to himself and others is no leader at all. A leader must hold himself to a higher standard than all of those around him. He has to do things for other people at a higher rate than he does for himself. Because as a leader he will put under the microscope and held to a higher standard than everyone else. Those are just the facts of the situation. What one person can do and get away with drama free a leader cannot because everyone will be looking at that leader and trying to find his faults. So a leader has to use all his tools to hold himself more accountable than the next man. The vision is the important thing.

259. How would a leader make the most effective use of accountability tools?

By making a plan and setting out to do it is making effective use of accountability tools. If you have a specified plan you have to do what you do one step at a time to finish that plan or project and bring it to completion. If along the way the plan stumble for any reason whatsoever the leader most look at all facets of the plan and discover where it went wrong so that he can adjust the plan so that the same downfall will not occur again. And if it is a person error than that person must be removed, even the leader himself if he is the one to be held accountable. It happens in our society everyday. A leader is found failing and is removed and a new leader comes in and tries to correct whatever the problem or failing was.

260. How would you describe leadership by example?

Leadership by example is to show what you want done and how to do it by your actions only. Don’t tell, show and than let others follow. A lot of people in leadership positions want to tell people what to do but then by their actions they show they don’t even follow their own advice. This makes people doubt the leaders integrity and intentions. By guiding people with your actions a leader is showing that he is not full of it and is ready to proactive what he preaches. Nobody wants to follow a leader that says one thing and then does another. That is hypocritical; and hypocrites do not make good leaders.

261. What does leading with integrity mean to you?

Leading with integrity means holding yourself to a higher standard than anyone else. A leader with integrity will not criticize someone for something that they would do themselves. If I tell you that you are not doing something right then by god I better show you how to do it and not just harp on it and tell you that you are doing it wrong. Having integrity means leading by example and holding yourself to a higher ground. A leader must give orders yes but he must teach and understand and be diplomatic and more. A leader must be a man of many hats and many facets and most importantly he must know when to take off the leader hat and follow someone else’s lead if they show more knowledge in the task at hand. Having integrity mean being able to honestly look at yourself and recognize your downfalls as a leader and where you might need help in certain areas that others could provide.

262. In what ways does personal leadership require an individual to put the concerns of others ahead of his own?

As a leader you have to look out for the objectives of the whole community or group instead of you own individual desires even when they are in conflict. A leader must do what is good for everybody not just what is good for him. Doing things in that fashion is what separates a leader from regular people because most people will do what is good for them and damn everybody else. Someone with leadership qualities and skills looks at the big picture instead of what just affects him and his immediate concerns.

263. How can our behavior in prison influence the lives of those we ask to support or sponsor us?

By staying out of trouble and living a drug free and productive life in here I can show people that even with the circumstances I am in I can do things and complete projects and be productive, even more so than some people can in the outside world. This is a direct result of my ability to influence people and my leadership skills but it helps that I am who I am and I do what I say I am going to do. That means a lot n this day and age where must people’s word is no good and they have the “Lets do lunch” philosophy but never do lunch. I say what I mean and do what I say. If I don’t mean it i don’t say it and people on the outside respect that.

264. When living within the restrictions of prison boundaries, where can we turn for leadership training?

I have looked to the people how are not in the prison grind and are doing their own thing and not being influenced or pressured by their peers. It takes a strong, focused and dedicated man to do his own thing in prison and not go with the flow or to even go against the grain. People in here are very negative and that negativity is like a virus. Somebody can say something about someone or put a jacket on someone and dudes just ride with it, even when it is not true. I have read a lot and had a few mentors who have shown me the proper path and way to lead. I even watch how others lead and take bits and parts of what they are doing, even if its in a negative form and try to turn it into a positive.

265. Describe an individual who has leadership skills that you admire?

I admire people like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarintino, Kevin Smith, Guy Ritchie- these are dudes that I admire for their leadership abilities. I also admire people that have been in prison or are in prison and exhibit leadership qualities like Kevin Chiles from Don Diva magazine, Wahida Clark, Michael Santos. Anyone that can hold something together and get it done, or holds to a vision or does extraordinary things in fucked up circumstances. That is a true test of leadership and shows the vision and integrity of the person that they are bringing to the world.

266. To what extent would emulating such leadership traits influence your prospects for success?

I try to read and gain insight and knowledge and I talk to people who I admire in the hopes of becoming more like them. I use their feedback to shape and inform my decisions and to shape my plans and I model and emulate myself after them and what they have done. Taking their values and replicating in the things that I do and in the actions that I take.

267. In what ways do our day-to-day actions show our commitment to personal leadership development?

I believe you have to go and get it everyday. You have to do what you say you are going to do. You can’t fake it and you can’t take a minute off. you say to work extra hard from in here to make things happen. I feel my ability to do things in here within this restrictive environment with only my wife for help will translate well to the outside world where I can put a whole team of people together to achieve a goal that I can inspire in all of them. With the manpower and the resources I believe I will be able to lead a group of people to accomplish amazing things and that I will be able to bring all my visions and projects to completion.

268. How can a commitment to personal leadership development while in prison influence your relationship with people you haven’t yet met?

By doing what I am doing on a daily basis and letting my voice be heard through my writing and website and even this program I am setting the stage for myself and letting people who haven’t met me know who I am and what I hope to accomplish. And then when I accomplish what I set out to do I am not just a person saying it or wishing it or wanting to do it, I am a person who stated my intentions, planned accordingly, worked hard and then did what I said I was going to do. That is what speaks volumes about me and who I am and what I am doing and that is the reason I believe lots of people will want to work with me and be involved in joint projects with me.

269. In what way can the Straight-A Guide influence your prison adjustment?

Going through and answering these questions and putting in the time and effort and the work has tremendously influenced my prison adjustment. The SAG program and the RDAP program that I am also going through now has tremendously impacted my life. Just a year ago I thought I was ready for the world but now enmeshed in both of these positive programs I realize that I was lacking in a lot of ways and both these programs have opened my eyes to the possibilities and potential that I hold within myself. For real the possibilities are endless for me. I know that if I apply myself the sky is the limit in what I can do and what I can accomplish when I come home> i have the drive and ambition and the desire to succeed and bring my vision and projects to the world upon completion.

270. In what ways can the Straight-A Guide influence your prospects for a law-abiding, contributing life upon release?

By teaching me and making me gather my thoughts and express them and think about what I am going through and recollecting all the things I have been through the SAG program has taught me and reinforced what I already knew from growing up in a middle class suburban and Christian home. My parents taught me all the values of being a law abiding and productive member of society but I got involved in drugs and fell by the way side trying to live in the counterculture world and be the anti-hero and outlaw I thought I was but I am now realizing that I was severely limiting my potential by living and being and participating in that world. I have so much more to offer in so many ways and for so long I trapped myself in the drug world and now in the prison world where there is no potential to succeed. I have turned my life around and am going in the right direction now and the SAG program has helped me to get to that stage. I still have a ways to go but I am headed in the right direction.

271. In what ways will you use the Straight-A Guide going forward?

I will continue to use the tools I have learned in this program and I will continue to let others know about this program so that they can utilize it as I have. And I will continue my recovery from drug addiction and a life of crime that enveloped me at a young age. I have been working hard to overcome the mistakes of my youth. I am not where I want to be by any means but I am on the right path and I will continue to use the resources of the SAG program and to communicate with the people I have met who are succeeded within the parameters of the program also. Going forward I will implement and put into action all that I have discussed in these answers and hold myself accountable to what I have said here and stick to my goals and values and the accomplishments that I wish to achieve that have all been outlined here. This is my blueprint. This is my foundation. If I stray this is what I will go back and read so that I can readjust my mindset and stay on he course that I have set for myself with the help of this program. This is not only my plan and my blueprint but it is my reminder of who I was, who I am and who I can be. This document represents where I have been, where I am and where I am going. I am confident and positive that I will be ok and be able to live a productive drug and crime free lifestyle when I come home and to do all the things that I have outlined on this website. Thank you.

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