Whether joining a registered student organization, landing a new role at work, or leading a research project, building your personal leadership style can seem daunting. This post will explore different approaches to remaining confident while conquering that first, big leadership position.
“You are your best thing.” -Toni Morrison
The definition of leadership has changed and been edited throughout time but one thing that will not change about leadership is how it is an element of influence. Oftentimes, people are misled by the idea that strong influence is measured by the number of followers or how well a project can be managed or directed. Leadership involves understanding and encompassing your natural talents, abilities, strengths, and even weaknesses to achieve a set goal or outcome. It is not only restricted to establishing and completing goals but it is an everyday practice in making the best decisions for yourself, those around you, and for your best state of wellbeing.
Did you just land that interview you’ve been anticipating? Are you waiting to hear back about your desired position? Before stepping into your first leadership role, it can be so easy to fall short of your own anxieties and doubts about your potential. Although it is easier said than done, the first step to accepting a position and preparing for that first meeting is to recognize your capabilities and better yet, establish your vision for yourself. You will be your biggest critic but you will also be your biggest fan. Take the time to look into why you want to step into this position, asking yourself questions like how do your values align with the goal of this organization? What can you offer this company or organization? To take it a step further, in what ways do you want to grow by the time your experience has come to a close?
“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”
On top of pushing yourself to be the best you can, understanding that you have support within your team and knowing you cannot do this alone is another important factor in building your sense of leadership. True leadership is shown through an outward sense of character, the quality of your work, and the values you uphold, which will be reflected in the way you work with and support your team. One of the biggest challenges but most rewarding parts of being a leader is seeing the best in yourself but also seeing the strengths within your team. True leadership is not defined by the best way you can structure a meeting, plan an event or propose a project. It is measured by the way you make decisions to advocate for your team to have the most successful outcomes.
“Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.” -Michelle Obama
As I mentioned previously, leadership is an element of influence, and reaching this level of influence will not be possible without some form of setback. Setbacks are what make us go back to the drawing board and consider what could’ve done better. As difficult as they can be, they are natural and will realistically occur, while challenging your initiative. Leadership is an everchanging skill that will not be complete after finishing a handful of goals that have been set but will be pushed for growth through adversity. I challenge you to reflect on how you can improve and remember that vision I encouraged you to establish? This vision will allow you to see beyond what is right in front of you and will put you in a position to consider how you can make the right decisions throughout your leadership journey. Once you have gained your sense of self, the support of those around you, and begin to believe in your vision, your leadership path will flourish.