Leadership is in the Air

by Matt Miller, Assistant Director

The Spring 2012 Semester is upon us.  I always feel some excitement as we start the new calendar year, warm weather is approaching (although maybe not quick enough), some of the biggest events of the year happen in spring semester and student leaders start looking to next year and what leadership roles they might take on.

You haven’t been thinking about that last one? Oh.  Well now is the time! Within student organizations, I often see students at this time of year contemplating the next step is with their involvement.  There are those who are ready to take on the world and they’ve been ready for a leadership position since the middle of September.  There are those who have been in a leadership position but aren’t sure if they are ready to move up or if they even enjoyed the position.  Then there are those people who feel their experience doesn’t compare to those currently in leadership roles, so they could never be the President, Vice-President or any other position.

If you in the first category, the one where you are ready to take on the world, I say, “Go for it!” but at the same time take a step back and truly appreciate the time commitment and expectations of the position you are going for.  At one point in my own college career I had this attitude and I jumped in to a lot of leadership positions all at once, I didn’t really think about how multiple roles would affect my other involvements, my class work or my free time.  Sometimes it is better to go for a quality experience and focus on one or two leadership roles and do them really well.

Already in a leadership position but not sure what to do next? Make sure to weigh your options, evaluate the possible experiences available to you and what benefits you will gain with a new challenge. Remember as well that leadership doesn’t require a title.  Yes, I’ll say it again, leadership does not require a title.  Maybe the best thing that you can offer your organization and yourself this coming year is being a leader within the membership of your group.  I’ve seen many student leaders who hold a leadership position one year and then take a “step back” the following year. At first it might be strange to be “on the other side” again, but from that vantage point they often are able to influence and mentor other members of the organization in ways they weren’t able to before.

For those of you in the last group I mentioned, remember that everyone in those leadership positions today was once in your shoes.  Leadership within an organization, whether in a formal position or not, is a learning process.  You have to take some chances, ask questions, step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.  Be open about your fears with your advisors and fellow student leaders, because they have probably been there before or might be thinking the same thing, and together you might just be able to come up with ways to address your fears and challenges.

No matter what route you decide to take, remember that leadership is an experience, a process, a skill, and much more.  Although many argue leadership is just a quality some people are born with, I would partly agree and say that leadership is a quality we are all born with, it is your choice what to do with it. So this Spring Semester, make the most of it and start thinking about how you will develop your leadership potential!

What are your thoughts or share your experiences! Going to go for a leadership position or looking for a different route?

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