“The role of a great leader is not to give greatness to human beings, but to help them extract the greatness they already have inside themselves” once said, J. Buchan.
If I were to ask you, “Do you think you are a leader?” what would you say? If you answered yes or no and I asked you “Why?”, what would you say? You see, leadership is sometimes complicated because everyone has their own personal definition of a real leader. To some, a leader is a team captain or a political figure. To others, a leader is someone who vows to make a difference or someone who is in charge. Well, everyone is right. Why? Because a leader is someone who is in charge, who does vow to make a difference, and who does inspire or encourage others. Becoming a leader is not as hard as one would think and to become a leader, you must look inside yourselves.
If you are trying to or willing to find the qualities it takes to be a leader as a student and as a human being, guess what? I’m here to help.
- Let yourself shine and let yourself shine brightly. Everyone, yes even you, can perfect any skill or quality inside. But to do so, you must bring that quality or qualities out. In a sorority or fraternity? Captain of the basketball or rugby team? If you already have a captain or president, silently take mental notes from them. If not, volunteer to run or be elected as one. Have a group project (yuck, I know) and want to take on the responsibility of the group? Go for it! Have particular hobbies or interests? Start a club or join one that already exists and volunteer your services as much as you can. Let yourself shine, and you might be surprised and glad you did.
- If you don’t know, learn. Great leaders do not pretend to know something they don’t. Instead, they volunteer to learn more by asking questions, doing research or looking up to an even greater leader Sometimes leaders are among other great leaders and sometimes too many dominating personalities can clash. Great leaders create more great leaders and great leaders take turns on letting someone else lead. Instead of trying to be the best right off the bat, take the time to learn about the things you may not already know.
- Know and understand the difference between being bossy and being ambitious. Sometimes a leader can be too overbearing or too controlling, and that can cause several problems. If you are a bossy person, that’s okay, some of us just have it in us. I’m right there with you. However, a great leader knows the line between being overly controlling and pushing people to do their best, and values that line.
In high school, I was the captain of the dance team during my junior and senior years. Although in junior year I got severely injured, I still tried my best to attend every basketball game, every practice, and every competition. My teammates valued me for that, and although I was their captain, I did not put myself above them or value myself higher than them. My senior year was a little different because I was able to dance again and contribute a lot more. Being a controlling person, sometimes I came off a little harsh. However, the people who thought I was a bit too harsh were the same individuals who saw the motivation I was trying to give them and thanked me for it. Sometimes tough love is okay, but a great leader knows how to give that tough love and to whom to give it. Long story short, we won the Indiana Dance Team State Championship and my teammates thanked me for pushing them, thanked me for being there for them, and thanked me for being a great captain. Do you know what I did? I thanked them for allowing me to teach them what they did not know and for showing me what it means to be a leader in a positive and influential way.
Anyone reading this is a leader, and anyone you recommend this article to is a leader too. Follow the steps above and even take hidden advice from my personal experience if need be and I promise you, the leadership qualities in yourself will shine through!
Georgina, aka Gina, is currently a junior at IU, majoring in family studies and sociology. Raised in Phoenix, AZ and South Bend, IN, she couldn’t be happier to be at IUB! Her passions include dance, working out, cooking, and spending time with friends, bf, family, and her cat Shadow. She plans to become a Marriage & Family therapist while working with issues like racism and inequality. Fun fact: she can’t start her day without a nice cup of coffee…or three, but who’s counting?