I want to be a leader.

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“I want to be a leader.”

I’ve heard this dozens of times. You were a major player, holding leadership positions, throughout high school, but now that you’ve gotten to college–you haven’t had the opportunity to make your mark, much less run for office in a student organization.

I’ve been at a conference for the past few days called the Leadership Educators Institute. Hundreds of university faculty and staff from across the country assemble to discuss trends in college student leadership, research, new programs, etc. Each presentation I sat through surrounded the same theme: How can we better develop individual student leadership? For me, I think the bottom line is to help students believe this one, simple statement.

You don’t have to hold a leadership position to be a leader.

Do you believe that? You don’t have to hold an actual, defined–president of your sorority–leadership position. You can be a leader in any position, situation, group, environment, or community.

Leadership is not about…

Being in a defined position of power.
Possessing more power than others.
Getting things done.

Leadership is…

Collaborative.
Sharing power.
Collective action.
Based on defined values.
Working with others towards a common goal.
For any student wanting to engage with others and create change.

So what about you? Where can you flex your leadership skills right now? Amongst your friend group, your residence hall, as a member of a student organization, in your service learning class?

It’s probably pretty easy for you to define one or even several groups where you can be a leader and influencer. The bigger question for you is why? Why do you lead? What is your purpose, your values? What do you stand for? Simon Sinek has a great TEDtalk on defining your why. Why do you do what you do? Define your why and start using your influence and leadership to motivate others around you to do the same.

Define your why and start being a leader right now. You don’t have to hold a leadership position to be a leader.

1 thought on “I want to be a leader.”

  1. Love this. I really struggled with this throughout college. Every where you turn people tell you to get as many leadership positions as you can for your résumé. However in every single interview I had I was asked for specific actions. What you actually do is SO much more important than your title.

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