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What advice do you have for an aspiring leader?

In the program I'm going into for college, I am a part of a cohort. We are expected to show and learn about leadership qualities. What can I do to further my leadership? leadership leader youth leaders youth-leadership student-leadership leading-people leading-teams

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Bob’s Answer

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First, you have to know why you want to be a leader. If your looking for power, control, or glory then you might want to rethink your desire to be a leader. Always know why you are doing what you are doing and be honest with yourself.

If your still with me, then create a plan to improve your leadership skills. Below are a couple of good options.
1) Toastmasters - In toastmasters you have the opportunity to grow your leadership skills by doing. Richard Branson once said, "You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over." Toastmasters is a safe place to learn and to learn from your mistakes. Also, if you can lead volunteers, you can lead anybody. It's a great way to learn leadership by doing leadership. Volunteer to be an officer and do it to the best of your ability.

2) Reading leadership books - There is a wealth of books about leadership. John Maxwell is my favorite author. Nobody is a born leader, everyone has to learn leadership skills. Books are a great way to learn from others. Even if you only get 2-3 ideas from a book that help you the rest of your life, it's time well spent.

3) Learn from your life experience - Hold yourself accountable for continuous improvement. You are going to make mistakes and that is OK. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes. Try not to make the same mistake twice. It takes a lot of reflection to identify why things don't work out. Don't be quick to blame others, but instead look for things your could have done to improve the situation.

When I was a young leader, I thought it was cool until I had to remove a person from the team for the good of the team. Being a servant leader (Servant Leader, Ken Blanchard: doesn't mean you serve specifically a single person, but you serve the team.

Good luck on your leadership journey. I wish you the best.

Great answer Bob! Your mention of Toastmasters caught my attention because of how different and unique the name was. I had to do a little bit digging of my own. I was surprised to find 10 clubs within 5 miles of my location, and I'll definitely be checking them out. Have you been part of the club yourself? Anudari A.

Yes. I have been a member of toastmasters club in Oregon, Florida, China, and now Silicon Valley. I have visited clubs in a few other states and in the Bahamas. It's a great program. You will get out of it what you put into it. Bob Haataia

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Beverly’s Answer

Hi! Great job reaching out for advice and for choosing leadership as a focus. I would advise seeking out strong leaders and do three things:

  1. Reach our to a strong leader and ask them to mentor you. Be prepared to tell them what you are looking for from them. Definitely come with an action plan as a suggestion and humbly receive the gift of feedback.
  2. Locate a list of leadership attributes and examine yourself.
  3. Shadow a strong leader or see if you can volunteer time to act as apprentice.

Best to you!!

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Patty’s Answer

I think the most important thing about good leadership to understand that often it's like air-- you can't see it but you can feel it. That's the type of leader I always aspire to be. A leader leads-- and the best example of how is by serving. A servant leader earns the most important type of respect because they possess intrinsic authority-- those that radiate leadership qualities without lording it over people. This is in contrast to explicit leadership, which is usually authority granted by virtue of a position or level of a hierarchy. The most effective leaders are those that possess both of those types of authority simultaneously. Think about authority figures you have had in the past and consider which ones you have liked or respected the most. Usually they showed a lot of caring toward their people, they would get in the trenches with them and serve right along side of their charges-- that's the example we should take and become. Leaders don't need to know everything-- they just need to know how to find the answer to everything, and leverage those resources in an effective and optimal way. And wisdom is the glue that holds that all together, and that comes from experience. And always remember-- good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions!

If your reason to become a leader is to be "the boss" and "call the shots", that is not the correct motivation. A leader thinks in terms of, "how can we solve this problem?" "What's best for this organization?" And the best leaders already visualize in their minds, the best and shortest way to get from point A to point B. To become that leader, you need to observe many leaders to see what works and what doesn't. It's really about common sense-- and sadly, some folks got it, and some don't.

Hope this helps. Let me know what you think, and I wish you a lot of success!

Patty recommends the following next steps:

Begin to critically observe individuals in leadership positions.
Make note of those leaders who you particularly like and those you particularly dislike.
Examine what are the traits that make you like the leaders you like, and the traits that make you dislike the leaders you dislike.
Emulate those leaders you like and avoid the pitfalls that the leaders you dislike have done.
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Arnie’s Answer

I've learned a lot that has advanced my career from reading books and watching key notes from author Simon Sinek. I strongly recommend him!

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Adria’s Answer

Find a mentor. Interview those that are in leadership roles and gather their knowledge to help you you identify what is and makes you a great leader. Also, read a few books on leadership knowledgeiskey

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Stuart’s Answer

Be authentic.

Listen. Be thoughtful about the different opinions and ideas you hear, and then having listened and formulated the best plan, present your thoughts about the best way forward in a way that encourages others to agree and join you.

Build trust. Trust is built through transparency (don't allow some people to know certain things and others not... that builds barriers, conflict and politics; instead be open so everyone can be engaged and on the sage page) and trust is built through integrity.

Lead. Don't wait for someone to ask you to lead, and don't worry about having a title. It's easy to spot leadership and they'll know. It will be the person taking initiative, being creative and pushing forward while bringing everyone together to fight for the same goal.

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Gordana’s Answer

Hi Joy,

As a leader I find it very important to be open to feedback. Always ask for the feedback on presentation, email you might have shared, overall communication. This will help you see how other see you and did you deliver your massage the way you wanted it to be delivered. It will give you confidence in your work and reassure you that you are on the right path. Pay attention to leaders around you - you will identify what you want to or do not want to do, and how you want to lead.

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Priyanka’s Answer

If you want to become a leader, work on your public speaking skills which will improve your confidence. Be sure of the subject and work towards getting more knowledge in your field and finally ask a successful leader to mentor you.Hope this helps. :)
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Vikshith’s Answer

Do something you’re really proud of that you can point to as your greatest accomplishment.

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Mike’s Answer

Hi Joy, I think the first thing is to be your authentic self. Leadership is a learned characteristic, so I recommend reading, studying and learning different leadership styles that fit you, and practicing your leadership qualities. You don’t have to have a specific title or employees, but you can be a leader at your school, among your peers, or even your co-workers. Leadership is a journey to help others achieve their own goals. Keep learning and finding ways to develop your leadership and don’t be discouraged when you make a mistake or have face obstacles or challenges. It is all part of the road to being the best leader you can be!

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Surabhi’s Answer

Hi Joy,

Here are some tips you can use to improve your leadership skills.

1. Be a team player.
At your level, helping your team deal with conflict, develop cohesion and work together will quickly set you apart from other people.

2. Lead from where you are.
A leader isn’t always identified by a title. One of the most difficult things to do—but something that will get you noticed—is leading while not formally in charge. You can start taking ownership of the small tasks that are given to you or require attention.

3. Be an expert, but learn and master new skills.
Learning should be an inherent quality for everyone, including anyone who wants to lead. As a youth, be open to learn whats going in the current world(be it industry, politics).

4. Be open to feedback and criticism, and use it to grow.
Ask your seniors for corrective feedback. It might be difficult, but it demonstrates you are not only comfortable with your abilities, but that you take your growth seriously and are willing to learn from mistakes. When you are criticized or you make a mistake, own it. Ask your seniors to describe what the right approach would have been, so you have a clear expectation of what they would have done.

5. Learn to communicate well.
Future leaders learn to speak and write well. They convey a clear understanding of what needs to be done and why. Speak truthfully and accurately—rather than emotionally—about challenges facing a task or project, and then give positive recommendations about how to overcome them.

All the best. :-)

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Run’s Answer

Some things to consider:

Understand what it truly means to be a leader. What's the difference between leading and managing? Leaders influence people. Leaders empower and enable people to reach or exceed their potential. Managers do lead people but tends to focus more on numbers, projects, and data.

Run recommends the following next steps:

Observe leaders you admire or look up to. How do they interact with people? How do they handle and respond to difficult scenarios their employees present to them? What do their employees say about them?
Put yourself in positions that test your leadership abilities such as team projects or school assignments. How do you interact with people? Do you try to take control and boss people around? How much do you listen to people and hear them out on feedback, etc.? And then what do you do with that feedback?
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Doloris’s Answer

The best advice I could provide is seek out opportunities to learn and grow. Many colleges offer speaker series open to all students, so take the opportunity to sit in on these talks which usually provide your insight into people's journeys and experiences. Clubs and organizations also offer opportunities for gaining leadership skills and experience through assisting planning and implementing events, volunteering and serving as a leader. I'm not sure of your major but from my undergraduate experience within a major under the business umbrella, there were ample courses designed to include public speaking, role playing and research on various leadership styles and scenarios.

I hope this helps!
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Luis Fernando’s Answer

One thing a leader is not is a person that tells others what to do and how to do it. A leader evaluates his team and understands the different personalities he/she is dealing with and adapts his/her behavior to each individual's needs. In leadership, the golden rule we've all learned does not apply. You have to treat others the way they want to be treated, and we're all different, but by doing so you're building trust and relationships that will enable you to maximize the results from each team member. A leader is also a coach and a mentor, a leader does not see him/herself above others, a leader sees him/herself as part of the team and is ready and willing to roll up his/her sleeves at any time. A leader understands what are the capabilities and limitations from each team member and works to utilize the capabilities rather than focus on each individual's limitations. A leader also listens and is compassionate, understands the human aspect of business and when asking for extraordinary results, he/she also works alongside his/her team to deliver on the extraordinary expectations. People that only direct, demand, and dictate are not leaders as usually people don't respect that type of authoritarian style.