There is no doubt that the presidential election is on everyone's mind - in fact, my household, my kids schools, and my own school will all be participating in the election process over the next few days. As the Leadership and Identity unit nears an end in my classroom, I'm hopeful that my students increased awareness about leadership qualities and actions lives on in their own lives. If there's one thing I've learned from this teaching experience, it's that my students appear eager to lead. And not only lead, but serve, too. A person who marks this territory - leadership and service - with intelligence and humility, is one of my closest friends, Suzi Lee. Here she shares her thoughts on leaders, and poses a question in the end.
One of the things I love about the English language is its subtlety. Words are similar and different by shades. One example is the word leader.
A leader can be minimally defined as someone who guides or conducts. But how do leaders differ from teachers, mentors, or role models?
To me, all are intertwined. A true leader teaches and inspires, encourages and challenges, and sets a high standard for others.
I have found that independent of title or role, great leaders share two common traits 1) self-awareness of their strengths and 2) ability to bring out the strengths in those they guide. Acknowledging your own strengths is something that too few people, especially women are encouraged to do. It’s not boastful or false to know what you are good at and to pursue it with passion.
Thus, people can be natural born leaders or develop their leadership skills over time. Their strengths can be intellectual, physical, emotional or a combination. The way the leader uses these strengths is how they are unique. A common example of this is how a teacher, whose main strength is often assumed to be intellectual, is instead remembered for their emotional connection with students.
Another important point is that since a great leader uses their strengths, leaders do not have to lead in all aspects of their lives. The president of a company may excel at managing large teams but be unable to teach on a one-to-one basis.
What are your strengths? How could you use them to make a difference?
Suzi loves spending her time with family, friends and working as a cancer researcher. She is especially excited when family and friends join her climbing, biking, or just come over for dinner.