Reimagining Traditional Leadership
Still to this day, one of my favorite things in high school was being a Link Crew Leader! Through Link Crew, I was able to welcome 8th and 9th graders to our school. There was something so special about being a support for them. Once I got to college, I had no clue what to minor in, but based on my Link Crew experience, I decided to minor in leadership. Little did I know that that minor would be the best decision of my college career!
The classes I took were incredibly eye-opening and helped me view the roles of leaders differently. One class that particularly resonated with me was called, “Leading as a Way of Serving.” I used to have a traditional and hierarchical view of leadership. I thought leaders had to be the ones at the top of the pyramid. However, as I became introduced to Servant Leadership, a term initially coined by Robert Greenleaf, I learned to place the leader at the bottom of the pyramid. After, I started to view leadership in a whole new way, thus sparking my passion for this work!
Image retrieved from: https://inside.6q.io/servant-leadership-guide/
After four years in the leadership minor, we each created a leadership philosophy that encompassed our values, missions, and beliefs, as leaders. Mine was…and still is:
“Leadership is serving a community through empathy while working towards a common goal and inspiring growth in others.”
Trying to fit everything leadership encompasses into one sentence was quite the struggle! After working through it, I came to this, and the core of my statement ties back to servant leadership and why I find it so important and relevant to our current society.
Here’s how I broke it down:
- “Serving a community through empathy” – When I’m in a leadership position, I find it’s crucial to serve my team members and make decisions that will benefit the team as a whole instead of for the benefit of myself. I aim to actively listen and take their needs into account. For example, as an Orientation Leader in college (very similar to my role as a Link Crew Leader!), I made sure to support my students in any way they needed. I encouraged them to reach out to me if they ever needed anything.
- “Working towards a common goal” – To establish a collective goal, the leaders should take everyone’s ideas into account, not just their own. As a Link Crew Leader and Orientation leader, it was not about what I thought they needed, but rather, what would help new students integrate and feel comfortable transitioning to a new school.
- “Inspiring growth in others” – One of the most important qualities a leader can possess is inspiring personal growth within the team members. Change is hard, and moving to college is no exception. As an Orientation Leader, my role was not to give students all the answers. Rather, my role as a leader was to assist and support their development during this time.
While I used to think that leaders were simply those in charge, through my college years, I came to realize that actually the opposite is true. True leaders empower individuals and support their growth throughout the process!
A great way to grow as a leader is to learn from others! Below is one of my favorite leadership Ted Talks, which focuses on the importance of leaders being able to listen to their team members and learn from them. I’d highly recommend watching it to figure out your own leadership philosophy and purpose!
After the video, challenge yourself to this activity:
- Think of a leader you admire. What are the qualities of that leader that stick out to you?
- How can you incorporate some of these qualities into your own leadership style?
- With these qualities, write your own leadership philosophy. Remember: a leadership philosophy can be continuously modified to fit the kind of leader you want to be!
*Meet the Author*
Siena graduated from Chapman Univesity with a B.A. in Film Studies and a minor in Leadership Studies.
Favorite Quote: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney
Fun Facts: 1) I’m from Minnesota 2) I work at Disneyland 3) I love going on hikes!