What I Learned as a Student Leader
by Farah Osman
2nd-Year Marketing Student
What does it mean to be a leader?
A ‘leader’ doesn’t just ‘lead’ the group. A ‘leader’, is not just someone who has followers that look up to them. A ‘leader’ isn’t just someone who knows how to delegate.
A leader is someone who strives to make other leaders. As a leader, your first goal is to empower your team members.
But how can this be done? Here are things I learned as a student in a leadership position.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
This doesn’t mean to simply boss people around. Delegation is how any organization moves forward, and is one of your key roles as a leader. However, it is important to find a balance between lack of involvement and micromanaging when you are delegating. Your team members need to learn for themselves and go through the same struggles you went through in order to grow both professionally and personally, but they need to be able to use you as a resource. It is important to find that balance between delegation and micromanaging. You want to give your employees their space to do their assignments how they want, but still be near in case they encounter challenges. This can be done by asking your employees what they need help doing, what they are finding easy or hard, how their tasks have been proceeding so far, etc. Then you can step in as you see appropriate.
Motivate your team
This is probably the most important takeaway. Motivating your team can be difficult, but isn’t impossible. Firstly, encourage your members. Remind them of the importance of their work, remind them that they are a crucial part of the organization. Second, celebrate their successes. Make them feel proud for what they have accomplished. Doing this will give them the confidence to aim even higher next time. Finally, show that you rely on them and trust that they will do the best job possible. By doing this, they won’t want to let you down and will put their highest efforts towards their tasks.
Be approachable and understanding
Your team members will make mistakes and it is important that they feel comfortable coming to you when encountering challenges. You can do this by speaking to them on the same level. Don’t let your ego of being given a leadership title get in the way of the success of the organization. A strongly divided hierarchy is intimidating and makes you look more unapproachable. Don’t be afraid to share your mistakes or admit when you are wrong. By doing this, your team members are less likely to hide their mistakes too. Finally, encourage a strong team dynamic; you want to be friends with your team. This can happen by planning team socials, celebratory dinners, and talking about things not work related- actually getting to know your team members will make you more approachable.
To conclude, leading a team cannot be taught in a short blog, it is something you learn overtime. Remember these three points, and you will be off to a great start. When in doubt, remember every leader, manager, or supervisor you ever worked under: what did they do to (de)motivate you?