Do you have what it takes to be a leader?

Mia Concepcion | Staff Writer

Nelson Mandela, himself a great leader, once said, “A leader… is like a shepherd.  He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing they are being directed from behind.”

Simply put, a leader is an individual who influences the direction of people.

Leaders can manifest in multiple forms: as managers, coaches, directors, and in other familiar roles. However, you don’t have to hold an executive position to be a leader.

Leaders are defined by the qualities exhibited through work rather than their placement in an organization.  Qualities cultivated through adverse circumstances and teachable moments improve leaders’ ability to direct a group, to maintain a vision. This vision could be anything, ranging from minimizing poverty in economically disadvantaged areas, to increasing voter turnouts, to decreasing suicide rates on college campuses.

Be passionate about your purpose and the people you are leading.

To be a leader in your school, your family, or any new environment, be sure to practice these attributes crucial to leadership.

First, be bold. Be bold enough to take a stand for what you are passionate about. The purpose placed within you may not be for everybody, but the steps taken to execute this initiative will affect somebody.

Sophomore Class Vice President and newly inducted Student Leadership Program member Rabia Brown said that she has learned to embrace her leadership roles with boldness.

“Often times, I am ignored or my ideas are being ignored because people see me as a soft-spoken individual,” Brown said. “I’m easily overshadowed by others, but I overcome these challenges with confidence.”

Secondly, trust your vision. Sometimes, uncertainty quietly settles in when your heart is being tugged in opposite directions. You’re plagued by the question, “Should I follow through with my vision, or leave it alone like everyone else is telling me to?” Don’t give others permission to compromise your original plan!

Ensure that you fulfill your vision to the best of your ability.

SGA President Jordan McKinney said, “My vision has to align with the organization’s principles, because the principles are the center of the vision. I also make sure I have open communication to the student body and a clear understanding of what needs of theirs need to be met.”

Lastly, be passionate about your purpose and the people you are leading. Every leader is mindful that his or her objective is for the greater good of the community. With that being said, remember your job is to motivate positive change while encouraging the people you’re leading to do the same.

Ileana Fenwick, the director of Women’s Caucus, said her passion for the organization has helped her grow as a leader. “You can’t execute the vision if you have no passion for the vision,” Fenwick said. “For me, upholding the vision of Women’s Caucus is easy because I have such a deep love and passion for the organization and what it stands for.”

Truly, everyone is a leader in their own way. However, to be an effective one, you must have a vision, have faith in your vision, and execute it in the way that is most beneficial to the people you are serving.

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