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Nurturing Leadership Skills-4 quick ways for Students

April 4, 2013

– Kirk McLaren, President

In the last few years, leadership programs have mushroomed up in quite a number of colleges and universities across the country. It seems that every university’s web page and presidential message now highlights leadership opportunities for students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Leadership consists of a set of skills, methodologies, and ideas that can be cultivated or taught. Leadership programs teach important life skills, such as introspection, cultural sensitivity, moral acuity, people skills, and decision-making acumen.

1.      Build a powerful Immune System

Students need a powerful Immune System to process failure to ensure future success. People are inspired by, careers and careers are built upon, and dreams flourish by handling failure and disappointment with grace, patience, a growth perspective, boldness, and a willingness to learn and change.

During a period of self-discovery and life changes like the college years, you must attack life with a well-established Failure Factory and put yourself out there, regardless of how high or low the chances are for success. Ask for that job, call that recruiter one more time, run for that campus office, send twice as many resumes, etc. Approach the start of your career with zeal and no fear of failure.

 2. Work to see things in a different perspective

An approach to life that aids in the creation of powerful leadership ability, is always seeking out the the unique and the uncommon in everyday life. Your value in the workplace will seed from many sources. This is one that is hard to relate on a resume, will cause many “workplace veterans” to beat you down, and is an extreme career builder. Practice sharpening this skill now.

Approach your classes, college-life, job searching, networking, etc. in your own unique way. It is amazing how you will see, when you make an effort to see things differently.

 3. Diligently repeat the Three C’s every day

Aristotle said we are what we do repeatedly. College is such a crazy, busy, fast-moving time that many college students forget to leverage the span of years it covers to slowly build more value than just a diploma. The job market beats down the status quo, but rewards the diligent souls who invest in their abilities.

Beyond these, there are industry specific items (based on your major) you should be working on. This is where a mentor, job shadowing, and/or internships come in handy. You can pick-up clues about certain knowledge-points, competencies, etc. that will come in handy not only on the job, but in the ever-daunting process of landing said job.

4 Serve others

Leadership at its best is many things. Leadership at its core is serving others. Invest time in college helping others (being a friend worth having), serving others (volunteering and/or running for office) and developing the muscles that enable you to lift others higher than yourself.

College can be a very self-serving time. Its supposed to be – you are getting yourself built right so you can go out and get hired, start your career, and change the world. Thus, it is impressive on many levels when you can travel through this selfish time with a focus on building others. Hopefully, it will be a mission that lasts a lifetime.

Nevertheless, we are witnessing a growth and a new respect for what we now call leadership studies. Many business schools have incorporated leadership training into their programs, or even created stand-alone business-leadership programs. Some undergraduate colleges have embraced the trend by starting leadership programs, which function much like honors programs, or by changing honors programs into leadership programs. Most colleges and universities have incorporated civic engagement or service learning, which is enveloped in a language of leadership development.