“I always end up being the leader in group settings throughout life,” Eric Enriquez says.
He’s not one to wait for others to make a decision, and friends seeking advice over conflicts rely on his decisive input. He’s passionate about politics and international relations, and while he hasn’t yet decided specifically what career to pursue, he aims for a leadership role of some kind, working toward securing a more peaceful future.
Having just returned from his first trip outside the U.S., he discovered the rewards of meeting new people from all over the world and learning from them, an experience that taught him the positive outcomes to be gained from respecting other cultures and customs.
Eric believes the HSI program has strengthened his existing leadership, conflict resolution, and negotiation skills, and more. “I believe that in order to ensure a more peaceful future, the leaders of tomorrow must begin preparing today for the challenging task at hand,” Eric says, adding that though conflict occurs on every scale from the international level down to the community level, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is what generally precedes improvements. Conflict that escalates into violence and destruction should ideally involve resolution.
Destructive conflict harms those involved as well as the greater community, and small unresolved conflicts can escalate. Victims may create social problems that can perpetuate the conflicts. Eric wants to be a part of the resolution of conflicts and the ensuing social improvements. He experienced the power of mediation on a personal level when he practiced some of the skills taught in his conflict resolution classes and helped friends communicate honestly. He played the “equalizer,” allowing each to see the situation from the other’s point of view to resolve the conflict and save the friendship.
Eric learned what kind of leader he is as a branch manager for a house painting company one summer, where he was responsible for job profitability and in charge of customer service, interviewing, hiring, managing, and firing employees. “The most important aspect of this position to me was taking care of my employees and earning their respect by ensuring a safe work site and working hard on my end to continue to provide them with jobs.” Many of his employees were adults who balked at taking orders from a “kid,” but he eventually earned their respect, and they, in turn, worked hard, and did their jobs well. One of his most difficult tasks as leader was making difficult decisions that affected lives, but Eric had to make the tough call and fire employees when necessary. He also developed skills he didn’t know he had, such as resource management, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of workers. He then honed his communication and delegation skills, enabling workers to perform the tasks most suited to their strengths. This in turn maximized fluidity, productivity, and worker/client satisfaction.
Eric believes he is approachable, respectful and charismatic, and his leadership skills include drive, integrity, communication skills, perseverance, ingenuity, effective delegation, teamwork, and most importantly, “the ability to make decisions by combining passion and optimism with a realistic assessment of the facts at hand to get things done while motivating others to do the same.”
The immediate future will center on continuing multicultural education and conflict resolution, aiming toward a more peaceful future through political involvement and international relations.