Hello everyone! My name is Jazmin Garcia, and I’m a freshman in the Division of General Studies here at UIUC. As someone with a few leadership experiences under their belt, I wanted to write to you guys today to answer a question I was posed recently: “What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?”.
The pressure of coming into a leadership position for the first time can be tough to handle. Dealing with the stress of wanting your group to succeed and moving past your own insecurity is something I'm still working on today! Yet, over the past academic year, I’ve refined my perspective on leadership to see that a leader isn’t the most commanding, influential, or dominant person, but rather the person most willing to build and support a collaborative work environment where everyone is heard and respected.
In my experience, the most successful instances of leadership are driven by the desire to inspire the best out of others by listening to them and offering them the respect they deserve. When you focus on having a genuine conversation, people can sense this, and they begin to feel comfortable being vulnerable with you because they can sense your integrity. Within this open and accepting space, you will get the very best out of your teammates. Thus, as a leader, you make your team environment far more productive and engaging when you ensure that everyone feels safe and free to voice their thoughts and opinions.
In summary, a leader is a team facilitator who ensures others' comfort and collaboration by listening and asking questions to guide others in their thought process and perspectives. When you step out of a controlling mindset and into a collaborative one, you become a better leader by recognizing each individual for their worth and helping foster the environment for everyone to shine.