I believe that leadership is derived from passion, and commitment from leaders leads to success. A personal trait and background that propels leaders to success is passion for a cause or issue that has a deeper meaning to them. This care derived from an experience or deep-rooted passion allows a leader to think about problem-solving for the issue around the clock.
A personal experience I had with leadership stemming from passion occurred when I was co-president of a school organization called Girls Take Charge. We were a non-partisan club promoting women’s empowerment by teaching activity-based lessons on leadership, communication, public speaking, and more topics to middle school girls. Simultaneously, the act of teaching, in and of itself, allows the high school women to build their leadership skills. In addition, we hosted events with prominent women in the community to discuss their careers in which women are a minority, as well as hosted events with our college-aged alumni for further mentorship. All of this stemmed from a passion to want to give back to girls and build them up when their surrounding community inherently stunts that growth because of the culture we live in.
Another skill important to being a successful leader is being team-oriented. A leader is one who demonstrates the way for others to follow, by doing the work herself and showing how. A leader also comes up with a plan using their critical thinking skills, and delegates work to their team in order to achieve that plan. A team motivated to achieve that plan will be so if their leader shows them how the smaller bits of work they do empowers the team as a whole to achieve their goals.
This past year of college, I joined an executive board of a club, in which my job was planning events. One cannot do so without the help of the finance chair, the president, the PR chair, and the secretary, however. Teams are a great way to delegate, bounce ideas off of others, build relationships, and each event was a balancing act between all the necessary parties. While I had a leadership role, it was important to recognize that the team members were all in leadership roles as well, and that there was an equality amongst us in our dynamic and how we operate.
A personal and professional skill that propels a leader to success is listening. Listening to your team and their ideas and editing and providing feedback to them while empowering their voice by incorporating their idea, is critical to being a respected leader who gets work done in a timely manner.
Sometimes, we are in such a rush to get our own ideas out so we do not forget them, that we do not hear out our fellow constituents, general body, team, or whomever. It is important to keep in mind how someone is feeling, be aware of their communication, and listen to what they are saying in order to respond to what they said rather than continue with what we were saying. It is about deceleration.
Leadership involves many components, but these three are key to any successful leader. With a focus on passion, supporting your team, and listening to others, productivity will arise, and equally important, good communication and team relationships.
Nicola K. is a rising sophomore at Barnard College from Upstate New York and an undeclared major.