College is your first take on the real world. For the first time, you are on your own. You make your own calls and face the consequences. No one is there to check your homework or call your parents if you’re missing from class (well most of the times at least).
College is the first test of your character, discipline, and personality. And we are all here to grow. The best way to grow is to test yourself; and leadership is probably the most testing position in our society, no matter the field. To state simply, leaders are a cut-above. They look at the bigger picture, do things accordingly and take complete responsibility of the consequences. They inspire people and maintain a standard which many can’t emulate. Be a leader in college and you will be heading for great things in life and you’ll know it.
Leadership is a personality trait and with time and experience, it can be developed. Here are some ways to help you get going.
1. Start With Yourself
You can’t wake up one morning with leadership skills. It is a lifestyle. It’s cool to be a leader, but one often underestimates what it takes to be one.
You want to lead others? Well first, you have to organize yourself and be disciplined. If you can’t manage your own time, why would someone trust you with theirs? And if you can’t be responsible and just make your bed or clean your room, how will you be responsible for a crowd?
So start bringing the changes in yourself. Each day, you should do something to test and better yourself. This will help you gain self-respect, something a leader must have.
2. Take Initiative
What’s the best way to make friends or influence people? The more active you are in all the activities going on, the more people you’ll meet, the better your network. These activities could be attending workshops conducted in your college or volunteering for social work.
This way you gain experience by getting to know about different kinds of people and what they do. That is essentially what these activities exist for.
Once you start participating in competitions or student conferences, you might fail initially, or the work might seem too much. But keep going, don’t stop. As you learn, you’ll grow more confident. Self-confidence is the most important trait a leader can have.
So go ahead and take part in that Basketball tournament or debate competition, or both! Join different communities in your college or be a volunteer. Do something which you would enjoy. You’ll immediately be noticed by many.
3. Start small
You can’t lead your college from the very first day. Start small, start slow. Begin with your friend circle, lead them, influence them. Move on to your class; volunteering as a Class Representative is the best way to lead your class. Go ahead and volunteer, take control. It is what you make of it..
Once you’ve earned the respect of your friends and class, move on to the various groups you’re participating in. Stand your ground in front of your seniors. Work hard and people will notice. As you begin providing useful inputs or solving problems, you’ll naturally rise in the hierarchy, making a difference one small step at a time.
4. Know More
80% of leadership is knowing more than others.
So know more. Find out about how your college works. Know the little tricks to get things done and the rules you can bend. Knowledge is key. Rather than checking your social media be aware of your surroundings. You can have a conversation with anyone, anywhere on any topic. If you’re making moves, people will notice, I promise you..
Be good at academics but also at extra-curricular. Use your knowledge to help out others.Your peers will look up to you. Don’t show off, be humble.
5. Behavioural Traits
Why would someone follow you? What makes you a leader? Why should your friends care? You’re not their boss, are you? Exactly. You’re not.
The leadership role you play in college is not the same as a workspace. You can’t give orders, neither can you fire an incompetent classmate. Leadership in college is more about influence and rising above the mediocre. You have to be better than others. Most tend to waste time in college and go with the flow. Whereas you, you have to be the flow. Your work ethic should challenge others. Most will give in while some will challenge your leadership. That’s where the fun begins.
We often misunderstand leadership. Yes, you’re being followed but only if you deserve it. A leader may have his privileges but they are always the most dedicated and hard-working. Here is what it really means to be a leader in college:
- Helping your peers to the best of your ability
- Taking initiative, no job is too small or too big. Someone has to do it. Why not you?
- Taking complete responsibility of every mistake. It’s okay to make mistakes.
- Not dwelling on things like gossiping. Act like a mature person. Know your priorities
- Working harder than others
- Having an ambition, making plans and achieving goals constantly.
- Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Voice your opinions, needs, solutions and concerns tactfully.
As you practice your leadership skills in college, you will start to see how it can help you in various aspects of your life. Leadership is what employers look for, it’s what they need. Fortunately or unfortunately, the supply of good and competent leaders is low. An example is the extremely low selection rate of SSB, a 5-day personality test to join the Indian Armed Forces as Officers. SSB tests particularly for leadership skills, which many lacks.
So be different, be a leader and start today. Once developed, this personality trait will never fail you, in career or in life.