What Being A Student Leader Has Taught Me

Over the course of my time in college, I've had the pleasure and honor of holding leadership positions of different sorts within different organizations. As a management major, I've learned a lot in the classroom about, well, how to manage, but there is no teacher like first-hand experience. Through being on Panhellenic Council, being in a sorority, being in the Honors Program and other leadership experiences I've had at UNG, I've learned a lot about motivating others, setting goals and about myself in general.

1. You get what you give.

Whether it's time, energy or resources, the more you're able to commit to whatever position you have found yourself in, the more you will get out of it, and the more successful you will be as a team. If you're doing something just so it's another line you can add to your resume, you will find yourself far more frustrated and unfulfilled than if you're pursuing your passion, because even if you don't verbally express it, your team will pick up on that.

2. Lead by example.

The best way to encourage your team/club/organization to do something, or to be passionate about something is to feel that way yourself. If you want them to avoid engaging in a certain behavior, don't act that way yourself just because you feel that the same rules don't apply to you since you're in charge. If you want to teach them to adopt a certain attitude or use specific language, do it yourself first. When your team isn't doing what you ask, ask yourself if you might be the cause of that.

3. It's okay to ask for help.

No man is an island. If you feel like you have too many tasks to accomplish on your own, or you feel like there's a better way to do something than the best way you know, there is no shame in reaching out to your team members, past leaders, advisors or mentors and simply asking for help.

4. Not everyone can be led the same way.

Some people respond to visual instructions and manage deadlines without being asked, but others require a little more prodding or a more creative approach for them to give their best. Some people can glean meaning and accomplish at task with just a vague idea of what to do, while others do better wtih the "explain it like you would explain it to a 3rd grader" approach. It's important to get to know the people you're leading -- their likes, dislikes, pet peeves, and to have some sense of what's going on in their lives so that you can lead with compassion while still being a solid motivator.

5. There is no motivator like a simple "thank you."

The most incredible part about being a student leader is that the people you get to lead (and you) are doing this because they want to, not because they're required to or because there's pay involved. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to balance school, work and a social life with student involvement sprinkled in, and for many people, nothing is more meaningful than a heartfelt text that says "I couldn't do this without you."

6. There's a difference in being a leader and being bossy.

I could write a book on this subject. People don't follow you because of your title. They don't follow you because of how much you talk or how loudly you yell. They follow you because they respect you and they look up to you. A good leader loves his or her team and lets them know how valuable they are while setting goals and being clear and fair with expectations. No one responds to unfounded bossiness.

7. Always have a plan.

Whether it's what you what to accomplish over a whole year, or just for a specific event. It is SO important to have an "in an ideal world" plan as well as a contingency plan or two. When things don't go as planned, it's important to keep your chin up and work with what you have, and to learn how to improve in the future.

8. It's okay to make mistakes.

Like I said earlier, there is no better teacher than experience, and you often learn more from what you did wrong than what you did right. Not every idea you have and course you take will be foolproof every time, but if you apologize where applicable (but not excessively) and take note of what not do to in the future, you'll be incredibly successful.

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