I believe attending university is a great opportunity. University is a great place to take risks, learn, develop and grow. It is often said that education is a right, but I see it as a privilege. Seeing university as a privilege has allowed me to value it and source out opportunities within it.
University offers countless opportunities to build new skills to help you become as effective as possible and one of the greatest skills you could pick up is ‘leadership.’
At some stage in life we will all have to take the lead in something whether at home, at work, or to put it in a different light, your country!
A good way to build your leadership skills whilst at university is to join a society where you will be happy, comfortable and willing to fully participate. Being a leader takes a lot of effort, and the following points need to be reflected upon.
It all starts with a vision, no matter how big or small. Your vision could be to create value for your members, increase membership or even include an additional event that impacts positively. Decide to take a leadership position in a society; not because “It looks good on your CV”, but because you want to change something. So always ask yourself, “what is my objective?”
Remember, the world needs great leaders who are willing to make positive impact in their environment to create change
It is your responsibility as a leader to make your team feel comfortable. It is a historic and scientific fact that people are more productive when they feel safe and accepted (Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek). Something like inviting your team over for breakfast makes them warm up to you and feel comfortable around you. The effect of this is that you build trust and generate a friendly vibe within the team. “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision” John C Maxwell.
Everyone on your team has a passion – something that they enjoy doing, something they are extremely good at. It is your duty as a leader to discover the strengths, weaknesses and passion of each member of your team. With this knowledge, you can effectively delegate tasks which will help bring out the best in them. This will then reflect on the success of the team and hence, you as a leader. Delegation gives accountability and ownership for projects and initiatives. It requires plenty of time and effort from you as a leader, therefore, an awful lot of thinking is involved to get it right.People work better when they are passionate and have complete ownership of the project assigned to them.
It is important as a leader to give constructive feedback to your team members when they do something well; not in a patronising way but in a way that you show you value their contribution to the project and who they are. “Praise in public, criticise in private” – Vince Lombardi. I know a president of a society who openly awarded everyone in his committee with trophies for their outstanding contribution throughout the year. “Positive reinforcement creates a replication of action, it can work wonders and it is a great motivator” Rhett Power.
Needless to say, you need to work extremely hard to achieve your positive vision(s) for the society. As a leader you have no right to brag about how hard you work; let your hard work show from the success of your society project and let your hard work inspire your team to work just as hard. It is often said that “The head that wears the crown never sleeps easy”
You do not become a leader till you have inspired another leader to take your position. This is probably the part of leadership we underutilise a lot, it is important to do good things and make a positive impact so much so that the person who is your successor will be more motivated to carry on the success achieved by you and your team or do even better. So, mentoring someone is always a good way to motivate someone. “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers” Ralph Nader.
Like any other skill, as is often said, practice makes perfect. You have to make mistakes and learn from them for you to get better. I strongly believe university is a great playground to practice because your character at university will most times mirror your character on your road to success.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hugo Felix