With the new school semester under way around the country we decided to ask a Freshman College Student for their opinion on Leadership. Well that’s not exactly true. We have a child enrolled as freshman at the University of Minnesota and one of her instructors asked her to write an essay on leadership. Long story short it was so impressive we asked if we could post it.
I believe this not only can help other college students in their first year and beyond, but it can help leaders in the business and education communities gain insight into the Millennial Mindset. Look for more Guest Bloggers in future post.
Becoming a Reflective Leader By Celisia Stanton
I used to think I knew what leadership meant. I was captain of my debate team, an avid volunteer, and bossy by nature. But coming to college has changed everything about what I thought a leader was. Here I am, on the cusp of the rest of my life, and all my skills and talents, no longer seem relevant. Here, no one knows who you are. Whether you’re a follower or a leader. No one knows your strengths and weaknesses, and that- that– has given me the best perspective on what a leader is.
A leader is someone who doesn’t worry about who they were yesterday, as long as they can use their strengths to make themselves, their community, and those around them, better tomorrow. Any person I can think of has had to face adversity in some form, at some point in their life, and the marker of a true leader is someone who can take that adversity, flip it on it’s head, and turn it into their advantage. Just as civil rights leaders took opposition as fuel to fight harder, just as entrepreneurs take the word ‘no’ from potential investors as a reason to keep pitching their business, just as my mother started an LGBTQ student group at her college in response to discrimination against her and her peers, any good leader never stops fighting for their rights, dreams and future.
It’s crazy to think I’ve been at college for a grand total of two weeks, and its already starting to change my ideas of what I think about the world. I now know a leader isn’t just someone who stands at the front of a room and directs other people. There are so many nuances to being a good leader that it would be nearly impossible to do the job perfectly, but an effective leader doesn’t have to do a perfect job. It’s the motivation behind the actions they take, which truly highlights a good leader. When taking on a leadership role it’s important to not only focus on your own strengths, but to also incorporate the strengths of those around you. No great leader every got there on their own, and that’s because a great leader also knows how to be a great follower. It’s uniquely beneficial to be able to step down and let others take the lead in some areas, if in the end it means you’ll be able to reach your goals more effectively.
So… Now what? What does that mean for me? That answer is significantly easier to grasp then the idea of a great leader. Now, standing here on the cusp, I know that I need to identify my strengths first. I need to discover what I’m good at, and what makes me, me. Then I can take this knowledge to figure out the areas where I could use improvement, and that’s where I can utilize the skills and goals of those around me. I’m sure there are thousands of people just on this campus alone, who want to change our community and maybe even the world for the better. So all I have to do now is start the domino effect, and maybe, just maybe, we can actually change the world.