Leadership Bio: A two-way street

I have been fortunate enough to have had experience in several different leadership opportunities, which have helped me to bloom and grow.

Since then I have had time to reflect on who I am, and how I display leadership qualities to others. 

Self-reflection is not as simple as it may seem at first glance, it actually feels like either it’s too harsh in some areas OR it comes as denial in other areas. I sincerely feel that I have been able to look at myself in a more realistic, transparent way that has aided me in understanding myself. This contributes to my abilities as a positive leader.

Initially, I began to notice (very quickly I might add) that I displayed different qualities than other up and coming student leaders around me. I noticed this in:

  • My work ethic, and how I displayed it
  • My motives for pursuing leadership opportunities
  • How I handle obstacles
  • How I lead others, through influence

I am a very hard working individual however, I don’t feel a need to tell others how hard I am working. I sincerely feel that the work you do should be visible rather than solely audible. I feel that each time I put work into something I learn, grow and I value doing things for other people.

Maybe this is why I enjoy volunteering – the idea that I can contribute with my time for a larger purpose. I can honestly say that my volunteering is not self-serving. I don’t volunteer to feel good about myself and after I don’t feel personally empowered like I hear many of my peers express. I feel that community volunteering is more like a social obligation that people should do. I feel that as a society we should be helping one another because we are able to – not because it serves us as individuals. The communities in which we all reside have potential and they also all have their own problems. There are people struggling in each community: elderly people, parents, children, professionals.

People are hungry, lacking transportation, and accessibility to education. These are community members seen and unseen thus to me, volunteering is doing justice to a next door neighbor who I may be unaware of their struggles – and the neighbor across the street whom I don’t ever see but could maybe use a little help or kindness. 

That is my motive for pursuing leadership and service opportunities. Not to write them down and get credit for each time I give my time – but to give my time so that someone else can benefit. 

When I realized how I handle obstacles is different than my peers began when I noticed that often times when I had legitimate problems arise that cause me to experience a set back – I don’t share excuses easily. I take the repercussions or responsibility for missing a deadline, being tardy or falling through and I try to solve the issues on my own. This seems to be an area where I could improve however when large, personal problems do arise communicating it to a supervisor or peer is not always an easy task.

Seeing as this is how I feel, and what I have observed I can now apply this to the people who I lead in the future. I can work towards creating environments where teams understand what is expected of them but also understand that they can approach me to talk – or not to talk. 

I feel that I recognize how situations are handled is of the utmost importance and everyone deserves respect.

This ties directly into how I view leadership and how I try to lead others, which is by influence or example. I feel very strongly that people follow someone whom they respect and whom they feel offer them respect as well. With this being said  I am extremely anti-micro management. I think that developing leaders have more potential than the credit that they are originally given and I think they should be able to display this. 

If something goes awry in a project, learning how to independently problem solve is step 1. When there is no one to rely on to complete a task – leadership, initiative, and responsibility is built and cultivated.

Care about your people, and invest in your people.

The bottom line is – you have to invest time and authenticity to people in order for them to grow into the leaders that they can be. Understanding that flexibility is necessary and that people will make mistakes is a tool that will benefit leaders.