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?
by Matt Miller, Assistant Director for Programming, Student Involvement and Leadership
To start off, I have to share my own personal excitement for social media week and I hope you have taken advantage of all the great programs this week! So on to the topic of the day. The Blogfest topic of the day is leadership, with a focus on what “effective leadership” means to me. When I think of the phrase effective leadership, two words come to mind that I want to focus on – vision and motivation.
Vision – To me, ability to lead is great, but unless you have somewhere you are leading others, there isn’t really much point. When someone has a vision, whether for themselves, their job or their organization, I believe they are often more productive and more effective. I have had the pleasure of working with numerous student leaders while working here at BSU and although they all had their strengths, the ones with a clear vision and view of the future were often the best leaders. A vision can be for any length of time, or can connect to a small project or to a whole organization. Planning ahead and creating a vision of what you want the outcome to be is a great way to help you or your group reach that goal.
Motivation – You can break this into two main parts, personal motivation and motivation of others. If you have a vision you are most likely going to be more effective then without one, but personal motivation is going to get you there. I hear great ideas all the time, but many people are not self-motivated to accomplish or take on those ideas. Often you can’t take it all on by yourself, especially when you are trying to make changes within an organization or plan an event as a group, then you have to motivate others. Many leaders just expect others to work with them, to follow, and then complain when those they were working with walk away. Especially when working with a group of fellow volunteers you have to keep them motivated – motivated to be there, motivated to do work, motivated to work toward your shared vision.
Although there are many other aspects to being an effective leader, I think that these two are pretty important. When setting a vision for a group, it’s always good to have your own, but make sure you create a shared one that everyone can also agree on, then help motivate each other to accomplish it.
What do you think? What characteristics would you say are require for effective leadership? Have you had any successes or challenges relating to setting a vision or motivating others that you would want to share?