What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘college’? If parties, spring break, dorm life and sleepless nights before exams are some of the things that pop up, you are not alone. What most students don’t think about is Leadership. College is an important training ground for learning leadership skills for the future career and the life in general.
Your college may offer courses on leadership but the leadership training is not limited to these courses. The whole college experience offers opportunities to identify and develop the leader inside you. Yes, you may not know but there is a leader inside you just waiting to shine through.
How to Develop Leadership Skills through the College Experience
Almost every aspect of the college experience teaches something about leadership. Let’s take a look at some of these areas and learn how to make use of these opportunities to your benefit.
Choosing Course / Classes:
There are several elements of leadership such as inspiration, persuasion, change, etc. The classes you choose should address these elements (not all at the same time). So, choose your classes with leadership in mind. You are probably thinking how do I differentiate between the classes that teach leadership and the ones that don’t? Aside from the overtly obvious classes such as leadership 101, keep the following in mind:
- Since communication is a pivotal element of leadership, communication classes are a priority;
- Classes related to logical reasoning, persuasion, and public speaking;
- Sociology and anthropology courses;
- History classes to learn about geo-political changes and about the lives of leaders;
- Courses related to management, organizational development etc.;
- Mathematics and problem solving courses;
Sports and Athletics:
Sports are an important leadership area, which you may have not thought about. It allows you to explore and develop your innate talents, leverage strengths and work on your weaknesses. Different sports require different sets of skills same as leaders, who require varied sets of skills to address different types of situations.
Coaches are a crucial part of sports; observe the coaches in your college:
- How do they work with their teams, how do they prepare for games and events?
- How do they transform their players into better competitors?
- How do they motivate the players and keep them going?
Aside from studying the coaches, observe yourself too:
- What changes have taken place in your approach and thinking?
- What strengths have you gained and what weaknesses are you working on?
Influencing people to change for better is a core aspect of leadership. Your teachers can be good examples to study and see how some teachers influence their students, while others don’t. This is about observing your teachers to identify the influencing factors.
- What are their strengths?
- How do they interact with students?
- How do they persuade students to do the desired activity?
Participating in Student Organizations:
One of the best leadership training opportunities is through participation in student organizations, clubs and other students lead initiatives. These activities cultivate leadership through different roles that students assume. They have to skillfully manage commitments, prioritize their work and inspire and motivate their peers who lag behind. The responsibilities associated with student organizations enable students to identify their strengths and use them to achieve the objectives of the organization.
Since leadership is a lot about inspiring, I leave you with a few words of inspiration.
“To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!” Lao-Tzu
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker