Values and Strengths of Leaders
In an effort to take advantage of all the thinking I did related to the concept of leadership in my organization and administration course, here are the highlights of my Ah Ha Journals. I think they are great soundbites with regards to my thoughts on what leadership is all about.
• Leaders must work to cultivate strong relationships between themselves and others, as well as create working environments where all employees can forge strong relationships based on respect and trust. If people in an organization respect and trust one another they will be less likely to resort to the fear, isolation and tunnel vision.
• Good leaders create a shared vision that everyone can relate to in both a personal and professional way. If all members of an organization are committed to achieving the same big picture goals then it becomes easier trust one another and agree to the inevitable changes that will need to be made in order to reach these goals.
• Key attributes of a leader include being comfortable with tense and complex situations and being able to make quality decisions in these conditions. This seems like a particularly tough thing to do when your business is so wrapped up in serving other people (students, co-workers, other university partners). Sometimes a quality decision involves creating additional tension and complexity and on the surface, this doesn’t seem to serve anyone. A leader must be able to convey the long term goals that outweigh the tension and complexity of the moment.
• Good leaders know when to listen; they know when to follow. They are gracious and acknowledge when they do not know something or when they must rely on others for information. They value professional development and work-life balance in others and demonstrate it through their own actions.
• The key to successful student leadership is creating “communities of reciprocal care and shared responsibility”. These environments allow leaders to be selfless in their pursuit of other people’s development, growth and well-being while not having to sacrifice self-care. This is the type of community that I, as a student affairs professional and future leader within the field, hoped to build not only for those I work with, but among the student communities I influence.
• Sometimes as a leader you must “care more than others think is wise and risk more than others think is safe”. Big changes are often done under fierce scrutiny. Leaders have the determination to see their visions through and not let criticism derail their sincere intentions.
• One of the main goals as a leader is to ensure that those who aren’t at the table, who aren’t being heard, are let in and given the chance to be heard. A leader can’t be an advocate for others but they can allow others to be advocates for themselves.
• A leader is authentic. They walk the talk. They take responsibility for their own actions and are graceful in their defeats. They pursue new knowledge and new experiences in order to provide greater service to those who they lead and those who will one day take their place.